This page and presentation of information is Copyright © 1994,
1995, 1996, 1998 by Jeff
MacKie-Mason (firstname.lastname@example.org). All rights reserved.
SI 760: Information Policy Seminar
Prof. Jeff MacKie-Mason
Fall 1998: Monday 4-7pm
311 West Hall
I have put the official information and requirements for the course
on this page. Other pages present the class schedule, reading resources,
Internet tools, and student-written papers.
We will be studying current policy issues related to the development of
modern information networks and digital information production and distribution.
Some questions we will address are:
Why do networks develop? How does technology drive the emergence
of social concerns?
Should the government guide network development, or even pay directly for
the national information infrastructure?
How should scarce public resources -- such as spectrum -- be allocated?
(Is it really scarce?)
Who owns information, and how can intellectual property be protected?
How do the public's interests in promoting free speech and controlling
minors' access to indecent material conflict in modern information networks?
Should universal access to advanced information networks be subsidized?
Who should pay the cost?
Should the local phone companies be allowed to sell long-distance service?
How should competition from Internet-based telephony be regulated?
What are network externalities, how do they affect competition, and should
Microsoft be stopped?
What is the Electronic Freedom of Information Act, and how does it deal
with competing public interests in public record disclosure and personal
Who runs the Internet? Where is Wyatt Earp when you need him?
How does increased network communication affect individuals in society?
Should we be concerned about alienation, depression, the collapse of civility?
Is it wrong to date a 'bot?
Toolkit I assume that everyone taking this class is
familiar with Internet resource discovery tools, and with authoring
in HTML (Hypertext Markup Language). In case you need a bit of help,
some introductory and reference materials are collected for you here.
Memos and term papers must be submitted electronically, as HTML
documents. They will be posted on the class server for everyone to
read. As an experiment in collaborative teaching technology, we will
be using the TopClass (TM) server for posting materials. You
must submit them as follows:
Class discussion (40%)
Two short discussion memos (15% each), and two peer reviews (of a second
memo; required but ungraded except for peer pressure). The first memo is
due 21 September; the second due date is staggered throughout the term.
- A group term project, due by 5pm, 14 December. (30%).
to see a more detailed discussion of the assignments.
- Post the file to
the TopClass (TM) Web server. There are instructions for doing so.
- It is very difficult, perhaps impossible, to link from one
document you create to another you create when both are stored on the
TopClass server (you can embed links to documents elsewhere on the
Web, however). I recommend trying to structure your papers in a
single document (you can create chapters for the term paper by using
cross-reference links within the document to a table of contents, for
example). Another possibility is to post your documents to some
other Web server, then just submit a short file to the TopClass
server explaining that the main document(s) is stored elsewhere, and
providing a link.
Materials and Starting Points The two most
important resources for you to start with are WWW servers maintained
by me and Dean Hal Varian (SIMS, Berkeley). Mine contains over 7000
links to Telecom
Information Resources on the net; Hal's contains all of the
interesting materials on the Economics of
the Internet that he has found on the net.
collected a number of interesting articles and commentaries from
various electronic mailing lists and other places. They are collected
in a Hypermail
archive where you can look through them by subject, author or
date. This is a good place to browse to get some ideas about various
policy and economic debates taking place.
interesting related courses at other universities. Their Web
pages often provide good links to relevant materials, and ideas for
projects. Here are a few to get you started:
Prof. Jessica Litman at Wayne State University has put together a much
more extensive collection of links
to related courses, with a strong emphasis on law.
Policy, Telcom 2512, Prof. Martin Weiss, University of
The Law in Cyberspace
Seminar, Lex 8256, Prof. Jessica Litman, Wayne State University.
Ethics and Law on the Electronic
Frontier, STS 085, Prof. Hal Abelson, MIT
and Community: The Future of the Information Society, SIMS 296A, Profs.
Peter Lyman and Pamela Samuelson, UC Berkeley
Cyberspace and the Law, Prof. Julie Cohen, Georgetown University Law
Center (offered at Univ. of Michigan Winter 1999)
Business and the Internet:
Strategy, Law and Policy, Profs. Miller, Nesson, Branscomb, Bradley,
Nolan, Mr. Kahin, Harvard University (jointly offered by Business, Law
and Public Policy)
Research Seminar on Internet
& Society, Prof. Jonathan Zittrain, Harvard Law School
and Regulation of Cyberspace, IT865, Prof. David Loundy, The John Marshall
the Internet, Prof. Michael Froomkin, Univ. of Miami School of Law
Public Service and Technology
in the Cyber Age, PAD 598, Prof. Diane Alters, Univ. of Colorado Graduate
School of Public Affairs.
Topics and Schedule