February 22, 2006
On February 21st, 2006, the Technology Law Students Association hosted Dr. Mark Cooper, a consumer advocate and expert on new collaborative technologies, like Wikis, WiFi, and Peer-to-Peer. He holds a Ph.D. from Yale University and he is Director of Research at the Consumer Federation of America where he has responsibility for analysis and advocacy in the areas of telecommunications, media, digital rights, economic and energy policy.His lecture included two main points:Collaborative Information Production, Deliberative Democracy and Cooperative Organizations share fundamental premises as institutions – equality of members, active (voluntary) participation, deliberative (nonhierarchical) decision-making, and non-coercive relations. Collaborative, peer-to-peer information production has emerged on the Internet (e.g., open source, free software) and new approaches to large-scale deliberative political processes are being fostered by the Internet. Cooperative organizations have long been part of the American consumer movement (e.g., farmers cooperatives, credit unions). His project explores the potential for convergence and cross-fertilization between these movements to foster progressive, democratic institutional change by relying on new information technologies. By analyzing and studying the elements of similarity and ingredients for success, he seeks practical implementation of new models of collaboration and deliberation within a large, consumer advocacy organization.Open Networks in the Digital Economy seeks to broaden the appreciation of the importance of open communications networks in democratic, capitalist societies. He examined the long history of the principle of nondiscriminatory access to transportation and communications services in capitalist economies and the important role of open communications in democracy. His study treats the emerging digital communications network as a platform and examines the chilling effects that anticompetitive and discriminatory practices in the physical and code layers of the platform have on innovation and the harm they impose on consumers. It identifies critical decisions confronting both antitrust and regulatory policy.For more information about Dr. Mark Cooper and his works, visit http://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/blogs/cooper/.