Harvard/Stanford Call for ‘Ideas for a Better Internet’

By Claude Almansi
Editor, Accessibility Issues
ETCJ Associate Administrator

[Note: This announcement is from a post (6 Apr. 2011) by Elizabeth Stark in the A2k listserv.]

The Berkman Center at Harvard University and Stanford Law School are pleased to announce a new initiative in which we invite the world to submit their ‘Ideas for a Better Internet.’ We are seeking out brief proposals from anyone with ideas as to how to improve the Internet. Students at Harvard and Stanford will work through early next year to implement the ideas selected. Interested parties should submit their ideas at http://bit.ly/i4bicfp by Friday, April 15. Please spread the word far and wide, and follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Ideas4BetterNet.

Ideas For A Better Internet

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and Stanford Law School are pleased to announce ‘Ideas for a Better Internet,’ a joint initiative aimed at fostering innovation around the most pressing issues currently facing the Internet. We invite anyone — interested individuals, scholars, entrepreneurs, organizations, and others with great ideas — to submit a proposal.

We are looking for proposals that will make the Internet more secure, more accessible, more open, or just plain better — ideas that recognize the interactions of law, policy, business, and code and expand on the notion that the Internet is a global information network. Proposals might address problems in data security, Internet infrastructure, digital literacy, or anything else, so long as they address the ultimate goal of making the Internet a better place for everyone. We also believe that the Internet can be a force for positive social change; to that end, we are interested in proposals that use the Internet’s power to solve problems offline.

Over the next eight months, technology-focused Harvard and Stanford students will select and help implement several of the submitted proposals. We will collaborate with high-profile Internet entrepreneurs, policy-makers, and other interested parties to bring the best ideas to fruition. This is an unprecedented opportunity for developers, designers, innovators, hackers, social engineers, and anyone else committed to improving the Internet to connect with a wide-ranging, interdisciplinary group of stakeholders who will, over the course of a yearlong seminar, implement and launch an idea that will help change the Internet for the better.

This initiative is not a standard technology venture contest focused just around raising capital and generating publicity. We hope, rather, to guide the selected proposal through a holistic process that seeks to connect projects with advisors, funders and collaborators who can make them happen from a legal, logistical, conceptual, and technological perspective.

Does the solution meaningfully contribute to building a better Internet? Does it enhance openness, accessibility, security, or something else of value to the public? Does the solution effectively respond to a particular problem or need? What, realistically, will the project change about the Internet? How significant will the change be? Does the proposal account for realistic challenges and constraints?

The group consists of Harvard and Stanford Law and Computer Science students, with the courses taught jointly by Jonathan Zittrain and Elizabeth Stark. Our advisors include Tim O’Reilly, Craig Newmark, Susan Crawford, Alex Macgillivray, Dean Hachamovitch, Mitchell Baker, Esther Wojcicki, Clay Shirky, Aza Raskin, David Hornik, and Andrew McLaughlin.

This call for proposals is open to any person or group with an idea for a better Internet and the willingness to work through a project if it is selected by the seminar.

All proposals must be submitted by 12:00 PM PT on Friday, April 15, 2011.

Finalists will be promptly notified following a panel review of submissions. Winning proposals will be selected by May 1. The implementation process will continue through 2011, and will culminate in a public demonstration of the project before leading scholars, policy-makers, and entrepreneurs in early 2012.

The idea behind this solicitation is to get ideas out there; this is not a competition in the usual sense, and we are all looking to contribute to the common good — we aim, with appropriate curation, to make publicly available what you submit if your idea is selected, and also anything we build upon it as a class. We hope that people on the Internet at large will use the ideas you submit as springboards towards building a better Internet.

If you have any further questions or would like to submit your proposal via email, contact us at info@i4bi.org.

Click here for the submission guidelines and form.

For a related article, see Caroline M. McKay’s “Harvard, Stanford Students to Examine Internet in Course” (Harvard Crimson, 3.29.11).

One Response

  1. So, in thinking about a better internet, I researched Internet 2 and 3. I do not have access to them on a regular basis, but I fear that most people are not even aware of them and the resource that they can be. I also am reminded that the cable and TV people are not eager for the resources of Internet 3 to be available.
    It is an incredible resource.

    I think that the ability to measure the speed of one’s internet connection is very valuable and that there hsould be a open source , self reporting tool as a component of the new Internet.

    I wonder how transparent the ability to translate is. I work often with Greek friends and my Greek is tourist Greek and food Greek , but there are transformative translation pieces that are a part of the Internet but not easy to find? Or am I missing something.

    I laugh I used to use a Lumaphone and sometimes use Skype but the transmission through the Internet 3 is broadcast quality .. much, much better.

    Then there are the science gateways.. I am not sure that everyone is interested ..

    Search engines need a lot of work. We maybe should talk to Bob Panoff if he is not busy .. wonderful discussions from him on the validity of search.


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