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*TMI: Social Justice in the Age of Facebook

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(*TMI: Too Much Information)

Thursday and Friday, September 10-11, 2009
Location: Rapaporte Treasure Hall, Goldfarb Library

Do YouTube, Twitter, and texting mean greater access, or simply wider and deeper divisions among individuals and groups? Does technology allow societies to achieve democracy? Or empower dictatorships to oppress their people? Are we all entitled to free use of content on the Internet?

Schedule of Events


Thursday, September 10

Session I: Is the Internet a Human Right?
Time: 2:00-3:30 pm

Speaker: Charles Nesson, William F. Weld Professor of Law, Harvard Law School; Founder and Faculty Co-Director, Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University

Faculty respondent: Laura J. Miller, Associate Professor of Sociology, Brandeis University

  • What should be free on the Internet? What should people pay for?
  • What is the balance between open and closed environments?
  • Nesson will discuss litigation in the music and book industry.

Session II: Free to be Excellent? The Costs of Being Informed in a Digital Age              
Time: 3:45-5:15 pm

Speaker: Jeffrey Scheuer, Independent Commentator on Media and Democracy

Faculty respondent: Maura Jane Farrelly, Director, Journalism Program, Brandeis University

Student respondent: Ariel Wittenberg ’11, The Brandeis Hoot

  • What are the central questions of journalistic excellence, regardless of medium?
  • How can non-profit journalism serve as a new model for democratic theory?
  • What are funding models for news in the digital age, when the Internet has created the expectation that news should be free, but is costly to produce?
  • How do we create alternate funding models for news in the Internet age?

Session III: Technology is Neither Good nor Bad, Only Thinking Makes It So       
Time: 6:30-8:00 pm

Speaker: Tracy Mitrano, Director of IT Policy and Law, Cornell University

Faculty respondent: Andreas Teuber, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Brandeis University

Student respondent: Daniel Ortner ’10

  • How has new technology served as a tool for oppression or democratization around the world, particularly in China and Iran?
  • How can technology be used for opening or closing societies?

Friday, September 11

Session IV: Does Digital Deepen the Divide?
Time: 9:00-11:00 am

Speaker: Samuel J. Klein, Director of Content, One Laptop per Child

Faculty respondent: Theodore Johnson, Assistant Professor of Coexistence and Conflict, Slifka Program, Brandeis University

Student respondent: Danielle Myers ’12, STAND -- A Student Anti-Genocide Coalition

  • How can technology connect individuals in developing countries?
  • Does increased access to technology such as low cost laptops increase equality among individuals and groups?
  • Does increased access to technology create inequality even as programs attempt to alleviate the disparity?

Session V: The Student Verdict              
Time: 11:00 am-12:30 pm

This session featured reportage on the conference topic by two groups of students, one using a traditional reporting format and one using a new-media format. Students  analyzed the presentations made in the previous four sessions, and commented on the central issues of the conference. See student new-media coverage of the conference.

Assisting the student teams: Charles Radin, Director of Global Communications, Brandeis University; Rajiv Ramakrishnan ’10

    This event was cosponsored by Library and Technology Services, The Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, and the Student Union, with special thanks to Gen Ed Now and STAND - A Student Anti-Genocide Coalition. For more information, contact us here.