FAI: Freedom and Authority on the Internet

Miscellaneous Homework 5: Select A Topic

Summary: In this exercise, you will select a topic that you explore in Tutorial for the remainder of the semester.

Purpose: To begin your topic-based work.

Due: 8:15 a.m., Tuesday, 18 September 2007

The Assignment: Identify two or three subjects that you expect will reveal interesting issues relating to mechanisms for resolving conflict on the Internet. You might pick particular communities and identify issues relevant to those communities (e.g., the expulsion of Plans from Grinnell, the Kathy Sierra controversy in the world of 'blogs; the funeral massacre in World of Warcraft); you might look at representations of cyberspace communities in works of fiction (Vernor Vinge's True Names, William Gibson Neuromancer, and Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash are three famous works); you might explore issues of interest to the major forces for an independent Internet, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) or the Internet Society (ISOC); you might do something else that strikes your fancy. You should feel free to phrase each subject as a question, as a statement, or even as a sequence of ideas.

Some Selected Starting Strategies:

Booth, Column, and Williams have a number of suggestions on how to find a good topic. Here are some related suggestions.

You can (and perhaps even should) start your exploration for this assignment by talking to people. Who should you talk to? Mr. Rebelsky is one good resource, but many faculty on campus have interests in these kinds of issues. For example, Richard Fyffe, Librarian of the College, is particularly interested in these kinds of issues. Your colleagues in Tutorial are also good resources.

You might find it useful to search newspaper archives (ask a librarian for assistance) to see if there are recent cases that you find surprising or worth investigating in more depth.

A number of books cover these kinds of topics in depth. Feel free to ask Mr. Rebelsky for help finding one. The books for our class (particularly Goldsmith & Wu and Lessig) are also good starting points.

You might consider one of the following Web sites:



Wednesday, 3 September 2003 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]

Thursday, 4 September 2003 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]

Thursday, 18 August 2005 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]

Thursday, 16 August 2007 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]

Snday, 19 August 2007 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]


Disclaimer: I usually create these pages on the fly, which means that I rarely proofread them and they may contain bad grammar and incorrect details. It also means that I tend to update them regularly (see the history for more details). Feel free to contact me with any suggestions for changes.

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Samuel A. Rebelsky, rebelsky@grinnell.edu