Rebecca TFellows Hour about Fellows Program, 6.23.15
Premise: Ford wants a document showcasing Berkman’s fellows program as a model of a successful program.
Mainly focused on past 4-5 years, and focused on what is working now?
More qualitative; like a case study, not data report
Q: How would you define success as a fellow?
Matthew Battles: Opportunity to learn from a diversity of backgrounds, disciplines, and perspectives and skillsets. That cornucopia has been key to the success for me. I've particularly enjoyed learning from attorneys, an extraordinary immersion in a kind of discourse I haven't participated in.
Ellery Biddle: I know a lot of thought goes into the composition of how people play off of each other, and that's huge and hard to know. It's a mysterious process that clearly has a big part of why that works.
Kit Walsh: Connections mean you're situated going forward outside of the center. The benefit continues.
Jack CJack: Berkman Friends feels continuous with the in-person fellow relationships
Rebecca TMalavika: Not overengineered. Not polices. Treated like adults. Incentivizes you to make your own success.
Q: It is sufficiently engineered?
Nathan Freitas: Not consistent because it's what we make of it. I'm happy with that, because I'll make a lot out of it.
Matthew Battles: The nature of the support is unique to this fellowship program. I wonder how it works. On one hand, this is distinct from other fellowship programs here at Harvard, where there is a stipend attached. It's striking how entrepreneurial the Berkman program has been throughout its life without that support. But the community and the sense of community, of fellows, of staff - the sense of community is a very strong one, and that's different from other fellowship programs too. It's a strength that could be marbled; could be hard to unpack.
David WAndrew Lowenthal: The flip side of the marbling is the Hierarchy of participation - who gets to participate.
Rebecca TMatthew: have to wonder who can't be a part of this. What is this community missing because there's no support for a certain set of cohorts that can't take the time and don't have the support to be hacking in this way.
David WHasit: I was a joint fellow at Nieman. Nieman is very regimented. Events and things you are expected to do. I think I learned far more here than at Nieman because I was surrounded by people in my field there.
The regimentation isn't a good thing or bad. It is what it is.
Rebecca TMal: there was a tension. If there were time conflicts, you went to other events because they were paying you.
Q: What do you think this fellowship might do for you going forward/once you leave?
David WEllery: I wasn't part of academia before. The idea of teaching never seemed like a realist possibility, and it does now.
Rebecca TMatthew: Consistently exciting is the infusion into the academy for people who are not career academics, and it's super healthy. Excites me to see people coming from the outside.
Nathan Freitas: ITP had being an adjunct professor. I prefer this model, because I had no time to associate with others there because I was teaching for no money. I got to teach and got to have the title, which was great, but with Berkman it's been more of a retreat/meditation time to reflect. There are different ways to bring industry into academia, and this is a good model. Berkman doesn't feel like a drag on me. I don't need a stipend because it's an energizing thing.
Mal: Lots of the tools and techniques we take for granted being here seem revolutionary outside of here. It's a measure of success, where I feel I"m adding to a conversation now in ways I maybe didn't before. Hackpads, hackathons, breakout groups.I think it's just the mindset and the way you approach problem
Hasit: it opens doors. If you can say you come from a place like this that has a strong reputation, it helps.
Emy TEmy: Being able to participate in an academic community but not as an academic has been very valuable. Berkman has provided me the intellectual space for me to put my policy and program experience into context of the field of Internet policy and digital inclusion.
Rebecca TQuestion: to what extent do you think the harvardness of Berkman makes it a success.
Kit: it helps the program take more risks. HArvard has room to take the risks; if you're starting a new fellows program you may have more anxiety.
Mal: I say I'm at Berkman, not Harvard. It doesn't sound like you're bragging.
Sandra: Many times people don't know Berkman, but they do know Harvard, so you can use that.
Emy TEmy: Frankly, I don't know if Dept of Commerce would have let me work remotely and reduce my hours if the fellowship wasn't situated in Harvard or similar level academic institution. I appreciate that the fellowship includes practitioners as well as academics.
Andrew: It's not necessarily that people are turning up for the brad bt because they know the other people who are there. It does it a much easier ride than another fellows program.
Matthew: There have been people reluctant to come beecause of the Harvard name and who don't want to be associated with Harvard.
Ellery: Or people who feel they don't belong. With GV, there are people who come to me from the community and say theat what were doing is cool and they wish they could do it. They feel it's for a different sort of person.
Rebecca TNathan F: The people who have been here and the things that have been done here, stuff that's important for me and my community. Humblebragging! s As a critique, I will say that I thought that more people would be around more often. I've seen less of those types of people than I've thought.
David WBecca: Have you reached out to those people and have they turned you away?
NF: They haven't turned me away. But the abstract impression of Berkman is different from the reality.
Sands F: The expectations of which projects ...I've heard rumors outside of Harvard that Berkman is tending toward policy and governance and thus isn't as diverse as it used to be. I've heard people say they're not into governance so they wouldn't fit here The degree to which we exude certain types of focus afects who shows up here.
Mal: If you look at the success of the program itself, one of the greatest succeses is how many copycat institutions it's generated. I sometimes wonder idf Berkman is still #1. I keep coming back to JZ: We either do A which we're best at, or C where we take a risk. But we don't do B which other people are doing well. So the greatest success of Berkam is it's greatest competition.
Ellery: For our class (2014) the intro to Berkman wasn't very tight. "Everyone who's part of the Berkman community is coming togeth and we'll be in the smae room and they'll be some big talks." But so much of the experience is social. Everone who knows one another are happy to see each other but the new kids didn't get a strong enough introduction to that. I was an interen some years prior so I knew more people, but I heard it from others in my class. "I don't know anyone."
Tatiana Indina: For a Russian being part of the B community is huge. It is a great honor. At the same time it's a challenge for people comeing from far away since the fellowship has different dimensions. E.g., some fellows get funding, some don't. Some are here all the time, some not. This creates a hierarchy that is especially difficult for people coming from far away. We were very happy to have a p2p grant with our center. It's great we have tools for long-distance participating but that doesn't work as well for networking. Even email threads don
't help achieving that goal.
TI: Also, it's great to have different people from different fields. AT the same time, it's a challenge. Coming from a different background and studying a very specific topic it was hard to integrate it into the rest of Berkman. My culture was very culturally specific. There was no clear mechanism for how to participate in a dialogue. It's the same challenge as at any international conference. I don't know what could help. Maybe facilitating more for different cultural viewpoints and lines of research. We may be discussing something that doesn't exist in my country, or I'm talking something that exists only in my country. From one side people studying different things is a great thing, and on the other it can be hard connect.
Rebecca TMal: The network of centers is something that does a really good job. Brings to bear multiple views etc - scale and diversity of things across the world I haven't seen other places do.
Sandra: Others may have/be coming from existing communities (such as the Network of Centers and Digitally Connected) where people find support. There are many ways people are working to integrate people who are outside of these things.
matthew B: opportunity to shape this. SHape and texture of the conversation - do more work as a community to express that we are a university wide center. Growth on that into other spaces has been slow. Opportunity to invite others.
David WTatiana: The model is that Berkman is a self-organized community. Fellows are expected to organize themselves to make things happen. Many cultures are not familiar with those environments. You're used to being more regulated. Also the lack of networks. HArd to overcome this. Would be helpful to have help doing this.
Rebecca TQ: Are people satisfied with their ability to interact across their particular areas of interest?
David WEllery: vWillow and I have talked about doing a little more on Fellows Hours. We have missed opportunities just to hear what people are doing, just let someone talk for 20 mins. You could always just put up your hand and do it, but somehow it didn't happen. It could use a little kick. A half hour to talk about this.
Sands: The ten min talks...
NF: We did a speed dating thing +1
Andrew: It comes down to managing scale. The community has grown but maybe not the infrastructure to support it. If you're going to be at this scale, the infrastructural requirement grows. You can self-organize to a degree. But there's a line at which it becomes unrealistic. How much does the Center want to put into supporting the community. Where do we want to scale this to and where's the sweet spot? Balancing initiative
Emy TEmy: Yes, I'd like to hear more about what people are working on and give them the chance to go in-depth, i.e. allocate at least an hour for them to talk.
Monica BFeedback from ceiling: As a remote participant, I found colleagues were very open to collaboration -- mostly people I've met in the ceiling.
Rebecca Tq: how important have the working groups/self-organized groups been?
David WJack: Angry Tech has been important to our experience. Coming back to acadmeic,s having a place to dip my toes into those waters was important.
Is there some way of getting oversights? Surveillance should be more open! Transparency on what is going on. National Security shouldn't be a bracket when you have open government and Freedom of Information
Get better at encryption / increase the cost of surveillance!
Attend to "cultural protocols" and question different understandings of openness, transparency, and privacy:
that is, bring up different cultural understandings of what personhood is and what is the nature of social ties (what can/should be preserved and kept private, what is in the realm of the public? the differences are striking across cultures...)