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Jonathan Zittrain at JCDL2006

Jonathan Zittrain, director and co-founder of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, was this morning’s plenary speaker at JCDL2006. Titled “Open Information: Redaction, Restriction, and Removal”, he spoke a lot about how our future will be defined by our relationships with public information. He spoke about DRM, governmental redaction, libraries’ roles in holding information and what happens to privacy in a time when we are all broadcasting our interests, location, recommendations, and lists of friends and acquaintances.

He didn’t stretch to saying that a true democracy isn’t a good thing (by having everyone have one vote – leading to mob rule, aka popularity), but he came close. I believe that a reputation-based system where we can weight different voters’ votes differently is going to be necessary when we start to try and build the types of always-on systems Jonathan sees coming soon.

He said that he does agree, in large part, with David Brin‘s notion in The Transparent Society, that privacy is dying. He said it is going to be very hard to always live your own press conference. But, he also points out that what is happening today whereby graduating students are losing potential job offers because of their posting about their fun times on Spring Break (facebook, myspace) will probably morph in a few years to the applicant actually being rewarded for their strong opinion on which bars were good at that particular resort area. Mostly, because the hiring manager had a good time there while they were in college as well.

I spoke with him shortly after the talk and pointed him to claimID (and gave him a button). He had spoken about contextualization probably being our most potent weapon against misinformation and I think that he’s on the money. We’re doing just that – and people get it.

He’ll be at next week’s Identity Mash-Up conference at Harvard Law – so we plan to talk a little more then. Looking forward to it.

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