Despite heart-wrenching images in the media of people standing together and political calls for solidarity, the pandemic has laid bare the problems with globalisation and challenged our model of economic growth, writes Padmashree Gehl Sampath.
“To stand in solidarity and to brave the headwinds of a world, where pandemics, system failures and massive shocks (climatic, financial and social) will become the new norm, we need to establish some new rules of the game.”
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To help manage the shortage, the authorities sent a message that made them untrustworthy.
“Research shows that during disasters, people can show strikingly altruistic behavior, but interventions by authorities can backfire if they fuel mistrust or treat the public as an adversary rather than people who will step up if treated with respect,” writes Zeynep Tufekci. “Given that even homemade masks may work better than no masks, wearing them might be something to direct people to do while they stay at home more, as we all should.”
With millions on lockdown, Facebook and Twitter are major sources of Covid-19 news. They’re also where misinformation thrives. How can platforms step up?
“Misinformation isn’t just a problem of content; it’s also one of transmission,” writes Joan Donovan. “In desperate situations, government officials can activate emergency alert systems across mobile phones, cable TV, and radio to reach the public. Today, however, no such emergency protocols exist for social media. As the WHO battles the coronavirus infodemic, what assurances does the public need that critical information is prioritized?”
Elizabeth Renieris argues it’s not just the government that is having to navigate these complex questions.
“This is not a time for employers to opportunistically collect additional information about their employees or to introduce employee surveillance measures,” says Renieris. “Employees do not surrender all of their privacy rights in a crisis.”
Misleading text messages claiming that President Trump was going to announce a national quarantine buzzed into cellphones across the country over the weekend, underscoring how rapidly false claims are spreading — and how often it is happening beyond the familiar misinformation vehicles of Facebook and Twitter.
“As social media companies focus on keywords like ‘covid’ and ‘coronavirus,’ there are pockets of conspiracy theories that are welling up that potentially have some offline impact,” said Joan Donovan.
evelyn douek speaks with Kate Starbird, an expert in crisis informatics, or the study of how information flows during crisis events.
BKC's managing director weighs in on the challenges that school districts face:
“Public districts are required to provide the same education opportunities for all children,” Sylvan said. “So if you have a digital divide, that could be a challenge. You have to make sure every kid in the school could access those tools.”
BKC affiliate Helmi Noman weighs in on a library filled with articles by censored journalists, hosted in the game Minecraft:
“The censored content is dynamic, diverse and distributed...Any approach that doesn't create a seamless and secure browsing experience of the entire web, social media and direct messaging apps will likely have limited success.”
BKC co-director Terry Fisher put together a must-read collection of resources for transitioning to online teaching, based on his experience teaching CopyrightX and other online courses.
“Each spring for the past eight years, I have taught an online course on Copyright Law. More recently, Prof. Ruth Okediji and I have taught an online course on Patent Law. Neither of these courses is a “MOOC” (Massive Open Online Course); in purpose and form, they more closely resemble traditional graduate and undergraduate courses. Most of the suggestions set forth below are derived from my experiences in those ventures. In addition, I have asked the 18 teaching fellows with whom I am currently working (each of whom is now teaching a “section” of 25 students online) to contribute their thoughts concerning techniques that have proven effective or ineffective. Their suggestions are interwoven with my own.
This document is short, but contains links to more detailed explorations of particular issues and to illustrative material. Some of the ancillary documents contain step-by-step instructions or video demonstrations showing how you might implement particular pedagogic strategies using Zoom, the platform on which we will be most dependent in the coming weeks. But much more comprehensive information concerning the nuts and bolts of Zoom can be found on Harvard’s “Teach Remotely” website.”
Fellows Advisory Board member Judith Donath on the privilege of working online:
“The next few months are likely to see quarantines and lock-downs throughout the nation and the world,” writes Donath. “For many of us, the innumerable online social spaces will be a lifeline, a source of support, information, and entertainment; a way to check in on vulnerable friends and family, to keep a version of ordinary life going, a source of creative inspiration. What can we do to extend this lifeline to all?”
Universities across the country are shifting their courses online in response to the novel coronavirus, leaving professors and instructors scrambling to modify and adjust their curriculum and teaching methods to this new dynamic. The transition surfaces questions about engaging with students in a virtual environment, students’ internet access to attend class, participate in discussions, as well as concerns about ensuring accessibility guidelines and best practices are upheld.
A stuffy nose last week encouraged Kathy Pham, an affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center and Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School, to pilot an online session for her class, Product Management and Society, even before Harvard issued its update on COVID-19.
Pham lauds the EdTech and Slate pedagogy teams at the Harvard Kennedy School for establishing infrastructure and technical capabilities into the classrooms and courses — including Zoom — so when the novel coronavirus hit, Pham felt equipped and confident to try teaching online. We spoke to Pham about the transition from in-person to online teaching.
A video of Joe Biden that was deceptively edited to make it appear as if he endorsed President Donald Trump for re-election triggered warning labels from Twitter and Facebook, one of the first instances in which new policies meant to curb misinformation have been applied to the Trump campaign.
However, Joan Donovan argues that this is not enough: “When it comes to the question of manipulated video content, there needs to be sanctions for actual users beyond the label.”
In late December, BKC fellow Julia Reda argued that the entertainment industry would likely start to lobby the U.S. legislature to cherry-pick elements of the new E.U. copyright directive in order to "harmonize the level of copyright protection.”
On March 10, Reda testified before the Senate Sub-committee on Intellectual Property, which was holding a series of hearings on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, with one session dedicated to "Copyright Law in Foreign Jurisdictions: How are other countries handling digital piracy?"
“Article 17 does not fit the U.S. context very well because Europe has the collective bargaining culture, whereas in the U.S., contractual freedom is much more important,” Reda said.