Berkman Fellow

I am thrilled to be able to announce that I have been invited to be a Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University for the 2015-2016 academic year. While there, I will be working to explore communities’ engagement with open, inexpensive hyperlocal digital networks, with special emphasis on bridging inequality of information access…for example, studying how LibraryBox and systems like it are used in areas with limited or no infrastructure. From my initial statement of research for Berkman:

My research plan would include communication with the creators and users of these networks initially through conversational inquiry, and then eventually through a formal survey instrument designed to analyze technical skills and reasons for use of these hyperlocal micronetworks….I believe that this research has the potential to be important as we move into the next 5-10 years of technological development. Moore’s and Koomey’s Laws will continue to drive hardware into ever-more-capable and cheaper packages. It will never be more expensive or more difficult to create these networks than it is right now in this moment; for every passing day, it gets less difficult and less expensive. There will be a point in the not-so-distant future where this sort of ad-hoc networking and hyperlocal server use will be trivial and potentially omnipresent. What changes will that create for the broader Internet? What happens when individuals can carry their own private piece of cyberspace with them anywhere they go?

I will be doing a partial residency in Cambridge during the Fellowship, for several months in the Fall and again in the Spring semester. Betsy and Eliza cannot do so with me, and I will be going back and forth every 2-3 weeks to spend time with them.

There are challenges ahead, the central one being that while the Berkman Center is a world-renown research center, they do not provide funding for Fellows. The residency requirement and travel combined with being self-employed is going to make for some very interesting financial times over the next year…if you are interested in bringing me to speak for your library group, now is a good time to ask. Or even better, if you are or know of a group that is interested in sponsoring this type of scholarship and open source/open hardware work, please do get in touch. I will be actively blogging while at Berkman, producing videos about my research, and I would be happy to talk with the right group about sponsorship of that work.

I am very excited about working with the other 2015-2016 Fellows. There are some terrific projects in the mix, and I cannot wait to have the chance to work with them. The list of faculty associates and affiliates, both new and returning, are a smorgasbord of talent. I am humbled to be included in their ranks, and I look forward to working with each and every one of them. I am equally excited about the potential for putting library concerns front and center during discussions, in being a bridge for the library world to the larger Berkman ecosystem.

I have lots to say about this opportunity, more than is appropriate for this post. I would be remiss if I didn’t say thank you to everyone who helped to bring me to the point in my career where this is possible, and of course thanks to my family, Betsy and Eliza, for sacrificing to make this work.

pinches self

Yep. I’m going to be a Fellow at Harvard.


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