Live blogging for today (sorry for misspelling anyone’s name)


Discussing whether the marketing regulation that is the playing field currently (enforcement of contracts) is commensurable with the “chaos is good” position that Conner took in his video. Conner responds that this is ok, but says that he favors less top down regulation.

Mariel asks whether there is a good reason for allowing a company to collect data without an opt out policy. Kevin responds that companies shouldn’t be allowed to lie. Connor responds that there are private mechanisms to punish companies for lying online. Connor’s position is essentially that there is an area to resolve those types of disputes (litigation between private parties), but that there is no place for the FTC.

Kevin’s rejoinder: what is the default in that situation?
Connor responds: there is a private mechanism to deal with this (suggesting an invisible hand idea).

Aaron’s rejoinder: there is a problem with dealing with the problem of using private information after the information has been revealed. Although he does not have a particular regulation in mind, favoring ex post regulation that enforces benchmarks.

Richard: Likes Connor’s idea about getting people to be more savvy to how things are marketed to them. However, his experience and sense in general leads him to worry that just having that “wild westy” idea is probably not going to work. In response to what he’s worried about: Richard suggests that there isn’t a consensus. If it’s the case that we don’t care about what information is known about them, then great, but if people are making those decisions without realizing what information is given away and what is done w/ that information, (information asymmetry), then there is a problem.

Connor’s response: He likes that point, but his position depends on his belief that people will organize. Suggests that if people aren’t doing anything now, it may be because ppl expect the gov’t to respond.

Tom: The idea of people organizing is nice (maybe it works for the people in this room), maybe a good clearinghouse was created, but it won’t work on the large scale and that’s why there needs to be some government intervention. In response to what gov’t regulation: not more regulation, but some sort of way of making people aware of what’s going on. Maybe have the government set up the clearinghouse.

Sean: Supports what Mariel wants (and opt in and opt out option), but he also wants to customize ads so that users can indicate what they want. So that when someone breaks up w/ a significant other, they don’t suddenly get bombarded with “singles advertising”, but if a user is looking for shoes, then there should be a mechanism for getting ads for those shoes.

Professor Palfrey suggests that there is a push in that direction.

Mariel: Thinks there is a huge collective action problem. Thinks that because this is really valuable information, and in the past, marketers had to pay to collect that information, so this seems underhanded.

Palfrey responds: there is a book that says that ppl should make their private information an asset.

Weinberger: Suppose a person could press a button, that prevents the collection of data, would that work (to Tom)?

Tom: it would be helpful if this is done through the government. The government is a more trust entity. Harder to do it through a private party; wouldn’t trust Amazon, for exmample, to give it up voluntarily.

Connor: gmail, facebook, all of these services are free. What we’re doing is saying that there is a price for our personal information, and the fact that we arent’ willing to give it up suggests that these entties are paying for our information.

Vera: Are there special concerns with aggregation of information (Google and double click, she agreed to the descrete policies, but not necessarily to the aggregation of information)

Cory: There isn’t a privacy setting in the mortars and bricks world (going to CVS), information received by being in the store, and we don’t’ get the option to opt out in the “real world”. The question for him: why do we have this right to be anonymous?

Mariel: The difference is that it is limited. And the information provided online is far larger. She doesn’t think that I’m making the bargain, aren’t aware that I’m implicitly giving up my rights.

Palfrey suggests: are there different expectations online and offline?

Mariel: Greater, different, it’s hard to say. Ppl do things online that they wouldn’t do in person, and they are acting under the assumption of anonymity.

Palfrey: One web difference point: there needs to be a distinction between ,1) are we acting differently in a store in real space and a store online and 2) do we want to treat them differently. Sometimes those things are easy to answer (if ppl act the same way online and offline). Sometimes, “ppl are dumb” and give up too much information and the question is what should be done about that. [descriptive question and normative question]

Weinberger: The question is incredibly complex, and depends on the level of abstraction that analyze the question.

Doug: Firefox has a feature allows users to block ads; does that make him a free rider? Should there be a way for websites to block users if they choose to block the websites advertisements?

Palfrey: does it mean that Mariel’s approach will be for the benefit of companies (less ppl using firebox bad on ads)

Damien: going back to Cory’s point, ppl might act differently online because they have the false impression that they have more privacy. The other difference is what happens with the information that you give in the brick and mortar world as opposed to the online world.

Connor: It’s true that there’s an information asymmetry, so there’s a duty on the ppl in this room to be vocal about it.

Me: The terms of use are available for all of these websites, so whether there is information asymmetry is questionable.

Kevin: following up on what Sean said, there’s another way to bifurcate the discussion, in terms of how things change over time. There is an argument to be made about not regulating early communities where innovation is going to happen. The question is what happens when other users join the community: how to regulate without destroying what we have?

Lessig ends his book by saying that it’s in the hands of users to determine what kind of Internet we want. Lessig is exhorting us to get out there, if we care about a generative Internet, users have to educate each other before there are heavy legal or architectural responses.

Von Hippel has been making this argument for decades. And all of a sudden, what he’s saying is “hot”. His core argument is that users can drive innovation just as much s manufacturers can. His argument is that the most innovative firms are the ones that are the least restrictive about its secret, because they want the innovation to come from the outside.

His instinct is that we want a system that deals with the notion that IP legal policies may be undermining innovation.

How would we advice the CEO of a firm?
Would we want to have different standards for what users can do w/ your product and what competitors can do? Should a firm be selective about the rights that it gives out, more rights to individual users, less rights to competitors (like a creative commons)

Aaron: There is a default position to err on the side of aggregation of rights.

Vera: example of Java (open source).

Palfrey: open source made von hippel famous. Why would that be?

Sean: opportunity for people in that community to benefit.

Palfrey: stepping away from IP concerns, does his idea seem like useful? Have anyone participated as user in the innovation of a project?

Weinberger: added to program.

Vera: contributed, but more as the original creator (not the person building upon it).

Sean: electric corkscrew

Palfrey: all three edge cases. One of the critiques of Von Hippel, is that is a great theory, but is it really transforming ?

Ilan: apple doesn’t do any market testing.

Vera: Apple is opening the API for the apple phone.

Douglas: when ppl got iphones, they started experimenting, and there were communities that sprang up that exposed interact and add on top of apple. Douglas thinks this is an example of van hippel being right, because users are innovate.

Ilan: iphone may be a poor example.

Richard: apple and the iphone are edge examples, because apple is famous for being closed. It’s the most closed, windows is somewhat more open, and then linux is entirely open. Rightn ow, where the innovation is happening is difficult to say. There are a lot of users that want to drive the innovaction, some of them hack their iphones, some are happy to write programs for windows. With the push from users, apple is willing to open up

Palfrey: What are some examples that van hippel uses?

Douglas: mountain biking.

Palfrey: the kinds of examples he uses are Connor’s “cool kids”. There is something about the quality of the examples that he’s using are the hip, young kids (nobody’s mom). One of the pushbacks is: are we seeing a largescale shift from consumers to manufacturers, or is a fringe example that academics use. One example to leave you w/: the facebook privacy issues (newsfeed and beacon), facebook responds to users complaints, but the features remained.

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