Configuring the Networked Self Symposium: Welcome
This week, Concurring Opinions is hosting an exciting array of thinkers to discuss Julie Cohen’s important new book Configuring the Networked Self: Law, Code, and the Play of Everyday Practice (Yale University Press 2012). Cohen’s work on copyright, privacy, and cyber law has been extraordinarily influential, shaping and challenging how we think about creativity, surveillance, and freedoms essential to flourish in a networked age. (Here is a video of Cohen talking about the book at Harvard’s Berkman Center). We are thrilled to have Professor Cohen aboard, and thank our participants for joining the discussion.
Configuring the Networked Self explores the way information and information rights impact us as situated users immersed in culture and creators of culture. It raises so many important questions: How do we carve out space for creativity when frictionless sharing of networked interactions undermines user privacy, when copyright law risks eliminating material necessary to create, and when digital infrastructures of control invisibly shape our lives? Can we reconcile the copyright impulse to control information with competing privacy interests in protecting information from exposure? Why is cultural and technical information burdened with restrictions while personal information is afforded little protection? Does the rhetoric of liberty, of user choice, help us solve these problems? Is the public debate stymied in seeing users as either romantic choosers or digital pirates? Can seeing the user as socially situated help us move past copyright and privacy policies that no longer serve our best interests? Transparency and choice are the buzzwords in privacy circles, but Configuring the Networked Self gives us good reason to doubt the efficacy of choice — without a conception of the structural conditions of human flourishing. Is the structural conditions for human flourishing the right way forward?
Dan, Deven, Frank, and I have been discussing Cohen’s book for some time now: we are thrilled to highlight its contributions now and long into the future. We have an all-star group of scholars to lead the discussion: