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Internet and the Social Sciences Seminar Series

Date & Time:
00:00:00, Monday 12 February -
00:00:00, Monday 5 March, 2007


Outline of the series

The Graduate Students of the Oxford Internet Institute are delighted to announce the launch of the first-ever student-led interdisciplinary seminar dedicated to the discussion of the Internet and related technologies.

The aim of the series is to provide a forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the increasing pervasiveness of new digital technologies in everyday life from a variety of theoretical and practical standpoints. Sessions will be primarily student-led, with those leading the session responsible for selecting and presenting the texts for discussion. While initial sessions will be conducted by students from within the OII, we welcome student (and staff!) volunteers from departments across the University who wish to take the lead on subsequent sessions in order to promote a truly multi-disciplinary dialogue on matters relating to new media.

Details and a list of the topics to be covered in Hilary Term can be found below. Reading of the texts in advance to the seminars is highly encouraged, to make the discussions as informal and fluent as possible (however we understand that occasionally this may not be possible for participants…don’t feel embarrassed, and do come in spite of that!).

We are greatly enthusiastic about the seminars, and very much looking forward to your participation in this and the coming terms! Feedback is always welcome and we would be happy to answer any further enquiries or suggestions you may have (contact: or

Topics, speakers and readings

Week 5 (Monday 12 Feb): Wolf Richter (DPhil PRS, OII) ‘Other than Legal Approaches to Regulate Intellectual Property’.

Law is only one tool to regulate social behaviour. Economic incentives, technical architecture and social norms are three other important tools. The discussion about the future of our intellectual property is very much dominated by a focus on legal tools and their implications for economy and society. The discussion on Digital Rights Management (DRM) and the anti-circumvention provision has shed light on the crucial role of architecture to protect or restrict access. The purpose of the seminar shall be to discuss the role of social norms as a tool of regulating intellectual property. Eric v. Hippel has conducted an interesting case study on the management of recipes among French chefs, which I would like to take as a starting point of this discourse. We will examine the conditions under which a social norms-based system can thrive and then discuss the importance of these findings for legal research.

Week 6 (Mon 19 Feb): Dr Ralph Schroeder (James Martin Research Fellow, OII) ‘Internet Studies: Social Science Knowledge in Theory and Practice’.

Week 7 (Mon 26 Feb): Max Loubser (DPhil PRS, OII) ‘The Human Dimension of Computer Security’.

Week 8 (Mon 5 March): Marcelo Thompson (DPhil PRS, OII) ‘Understanding Autonomy in the Information Age’.

  • Benkler Y. (2006) The Wealth of Networks (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006), ch. 5 at 133.

  • Raz, J. (1986) The Morality of Freedom (Oxford University Press: Oxford), cc. 14-15, at 369; 400.

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  • Dr Marcelo Thompson
  • Name: Dr Marcelo Thompson|Shefali Virkar
  • Affiliation: OII|OII
  • Role: Convenor|Convenor
  • URL:|
  • Bio: |