Joho the Blog » Course begins

Course begins

I’m too nervous to be able to blog about the course I’m co-teaching with John Palfrey, beyond saying that we had our first session yesterday, and there’s a course blog open to the students as posters and to anyone as a reader. (We didn’t have time yesterday to tell the students the URL, so none have posted there yet.) Well, I will say a couple more things: The title of the course is “The Web Difference,” and it’s about whether and how the Web is different, and what that means for law and policy. Also, JP is an awesome teacher. OMG.

What the heck. Yesterday, after going through preliminaries and intros, JP led the class for half an hour in a discussion of a case in which awful things were said on a discussion board, yet the discussion board owner was not held liable. If those things had been said in a newspaper, the paper could have been sued. What’s the difference in the two situations and why might the law be different in them? I led a similarly-themed discussion, far more awkwardly, about whether friendship on the Web is “real” and how it differs from real world friendship. [Tags: ]

16 Responses to “Course begins”

  1. Friendship on the Web is not “real”. Friendship is a physical relation. Friendship means trusting someone, you can’t trust someone you don’t rally know. Trust me.

  2. Sounds like a fantastic course. Oh! To be a student again :-)

    Re: the web difference in law and policy, I wonder what your class would make of the latest Facebook concern that’s been spreading through the newsvines up here?

    The issue centres around friends/supporters of victims of crimes “outing” the accused in Facebook groups in clear violation of publication bans.

    As an example, take the case of 14-year old Toronto high school student, Stefanie Rengel – murdered on New Year’s Day. Two youths (16 and 18) were quickly taken into custody.

    A court order prevents newspapers and broacast media from naming the accused, but postings to the Facebook group set up to commemorate Stefanie clearly identify the two teens.

    Similarly, four teens in Alberta accused of microwaving a cat to death, cannot be named under Canada’s Youth Criminal Justice Act, but individuals setting up Facebook groups to protest and deplore their crime have not hesitated to name the four alleged offenders.

    Messy. The web has made things different here, for sure – simply by putting the power of publishing in the hands of so many. But should the same laws extend online, or do we need new ones?

  3. Oz, did you mean your last phrase to be so ironic?

    Michael, messy doesn’t begin to describe it. Those are great examples. Care to post them as comments on the course blog? If not, I’ll post a pointer to your comment.

  4. Yes I did.
    Friendship on the Web can’t be “real” (in most of the cases) and it differs so much from real world friendship. WebFriendship and RealWorldFriendship are so different that we should stop calling the first “friendship”.
    It lacks confidence and it lack trust.
    I’m not good with english, but I think we should call it just a “Relation”, or “Connection”.
    Or maybe “Webship”.

  5. David:

    I’m a little late posting this, but your class may be interested to know that a bill proposing criminal and civil liability for comments posted on Internet forums such as blogs passed a preliminary reading in Israel’s Knesset on 2008-01-16 by a majority of 29 Knesset members to two.

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3495105,00.html

    Curious Ray

  6. Thanks, Ray. I posted your comment on the class blog…

  7. So, according to Oz, David and Michael and I weren’t friends until we met face-to-face, but only then became friends? Even though we probably wouldn’t have gone to the trouble to meet unless we were under the (illusory) notion that we were indeed friends already? Our F2F meetings were evidently more like a blind date.

    (Do visually-impaired people ever complain about that idiom?)

    I remain unconvinced. Friendship rests on a great deal more than mere physical proximity (Aristotle to the contrary notwithstanding); the Web offers new modes of friendship, but I’d argue vigorously that the category “friendship” still applies.

  8. Akma, my friend, you put it well.

  9. As to friendship on the web, of course it’s real! And there’s nothing fundamentally new about it, either. People have had friendships–romances, even–through written correspondence. This was true before the telephone, why should it not be true today?

    I have many friends whom I have never met in person. One in particular, I have known for at least 10 years. Two summers ago I had an opportunity to meet her in person. We went out, had a beer, talked for a long time. She said to me “it feels like we do this every other day!” I said “we kind of do, just not sitting next to each other.”

  10. I’m with AKMA and David on the friendship thing here.

    I met David and we became friends in person long before we met again online. It was an accident of geography and market-closeness that brought our lives together.

    With AKMA, however, I believe we were truly friends long before we ever met face-to-face. Indeed, we only chose to meet in person because we were already friends online.

    I can think of at least one example of someone I can say with absolute certainty that I love as dearly as a family member, but we’ve only met – briefly – on one occasion. We were close friends for a long time before we managed to meet in the world of flesh and blood.

    Friendship on the Web can absolutely be real.

  11. My fear is becoming a reality, I know. The Web is changing the true meaning of “Friendship” (as I see it, of course).

    For each story of people happily meeting for the first time after a long virtual relation, there is a similar story that went wrong. So I would not use it as an example.

    Akma: David and Michael and you became TRUE and REAL friends only when you met face-to-face. Before to that you had the “feeling of friendship”, but you couldn’t be sure of yours and others sentiment (sorry for my bad english).

    A friendship can start online, sure, but soon grows the need of meeting each oher, in real life. People is very different when writing on a webpage. Often we feel friends not of the person we met online but of the idea of what we would like that person to be.

    I’m happy that Scott found a friend online, but they became real friends only in front of that beers.

    Without the real meeting it’s only artificial friendship. It has to be proved.

    (Again, sorry for my bad english)

  12. Oz, your English is fine. But I disagree. I have friends online whom I have never met in person. So, I don’t know if we’re disagreeing over the definition of friendship or whether our experience is just so different.

  13. Hi David. I think we’re disagreeing over the definition of friendship.

    Mine is not “integrism”, but I have in great consideration my friends. I can’t call people I live with since ages, the same as people I don’t really know.
    My friends are as important as my brothers.

    I respect your idea of friendship and I hope you made and will make lots of real friends online. But when I say “real” I mean it.

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  15. If that is about the web2.0 approach, I would say the most work for lawyers is in the copyright law. Having given blogs, forums, feeds, rss, xml etc. everything can be – and is – copied and redistributed with less effort.

    BTW. In Germany we have a liability for comments posted on Internet forums – but it’s kind of week, you have to remove the complained comment on demand.

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