Communia
A few weeks ago the Communia conference University and Cyberspace took place here in Torino, Italy, with a focus on “reshaping knowledge institutions for the networked age”. Speakers included Massimo Banzi, Joy Ito, David Orban, Bruce Sterling, and many others.

The international conference, which is the conclusion and culmination of the Communia Thematic Network project (the European Thematic Network on the Digital Public Domain), was organised by the Politecnico of Torino’s NEXA Research Center for Internet and Society (that also coordinated the network) and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and aimed at defining a shared vision of the future of universities as knowledge institutions and identifying the main steps leading from vision to reality.

The event addressed questions such as: How is the role of universities as knowledge creating, sharing, and applying institutions going to change due to the Internet? How should universities use cyberspace to best implement their mission with respect to society? Taking into account the characteristics of the new generations of students, faculty and staff, how should the informational and the spatial (both physical and virtual) infrastructures of universities be shaped to improve learning, discovery, and engagement? What about the new opportunities to enhance the civic role of universities – who prepare people for citizenship and contribute to the public sphere – in our democratic societies?

Videos of all sessions are now online, although in a still somewhat rough format (they are now working at processing the videos further):

Monday 28 June
The first day of the conference covered the relevant history and traditions of universities, moved through the current state of play, and focused on the emerging landscape of universities, articulating both their changing role in society, the significant challenges these institutions are facing for the future and, more specifically, their role vis a vis the increasing commons of knowledge facilitated by the Internet.

Morning session (video link)

  • Kick-off [00:12:56]: Juan Carlos de Martin, NEXA Center for Internet & Society, in conversation with Charles Nesson, Berkman Center for Internet & Society
  • Keynote [00:53:20]: “Universities in the Age of the Internet” by Stefano Rodotà, University of Rome
  • High Order Bit [01:46:00]: “Arduino, Open Source Hardware and Learning by Doing” by Massimo Banzi, tinker.it, arduino.cc
  • Plenary [02:03:45]: “Digital Natives” with John Palfrey, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Marco de Rossi, Oilproject.org, and Urs Gasser, Berkman Center for Internet & Society

Afternoon session (video link)

  • Plenary [00:01:19]: “Information Infrastructure” with Alma Swan, Key Perspectives Ltd., Stuart Shieber, Berkman Center for Internet & Society and Office of Scholarly Communication at Harvard University, and Martin Hall, Salford University, UK
  • High Order Bit [01:27:13]: “African Universities as Knowledge Centers: Challenges and Opportunities” by Boubakar Barry, African Association of Universities
  • Plenary [01:41:45]: Physical/Virtual Spatial Infrastructure” with Antoine Picon, Harvard University and Jef Huang, EPFL

Tuesday 29 June
The second day attempted cross-sectional reorientation, by examining universities’ emerging responsibilities as ‘horizontal’ themes, especially as they intersect with future challenges described in the first day’s ‘vertical’ tracks.

Morning session (video link)

  • High Order Bit [00:01:12]: “Individual and social evolution: through digital gaming, out of the box” by Carlo Fabricatore, Initium Studios & University of Worcester
  • Plenary [00:14:52]: “Universities as Civic Actors or Institutions” with Marco Santambrogio, University of Parma, Italy, Colin Maclay, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Maarten Simons, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, Jan Masschelein, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, and Juan Carlos De Martin, NEXA Center for Internet & Society

Afternoon session (video link)

  • Plenary [00:01:00]: “Universities as Platforms for Learning” with Catharina Maracke, Keio University, Japan, Marco De Rossi, Oilproject.org, Carlo Fabricatore, Initium Studios & University of Worcester, Delia Browne, Peer-2-Peer University, Stephan Vincent-Lancrin, OECD, and Jean Claude Guedon, University of Montreal
  • High Order Bit [01:15:46] by Joy Ito, Creative Commons
  • Plenary [01:33:11]: “Universities as Knowledge Creators” with Carlo Olmo, Politecnico di Torino, Phillippe Aigrain, Sopinspace, Janneke Adema, Coventry University, Mary Lee Kennedy, Harvard Business School, and Terry Fisher, Berkman Center for Internet & Society
  • Plenary [02:49:56]: “In Search of the Public Domain” with Lucie Guibault, Institute for Information Law, University of Amsterdam, Patrick Peiffer, Luxcommons, Jonathan Gray, Open Knowledge Foundation, Sirin Tekinay, Ozyegin University, Istanbul, Turkey, Ignasi Labastida, University of Barcelona, Philippe Aigrain, Sopinspace, and Paolo Lanteri, WIPO

Wednesday 30 June
The third day combined the three tracks and the cross-sectional issues with an orientation towards solutions and next steps.

Morning session (video link)

  • High Order Bit [00:01:08]: “Why Academia Needs to Rediscover the Commons” by Jean Claude Guedon, University of Montreal
  • High Level Keynote [00:28:00]: “Digital Culture, Network Culture, and What Comes Afterward” by Bruce Sterling
  • High Order Bit [01:35:44]: “From Elites, To Masses: Drivers of Excellence in Communication, And Participation” by David Orban, Humanity+ & Singularity University
  • Student session [01:49:58]: “Public universities, public education: From the Bologna Process to Cyberspace”, chaired by Chiara Basile, Politecnico di Torino

Afternoon session (video link)

  • Final Session: “Synthesis and Proposals” with Stephan Vincent-Lancrin, OECD, Francesco Profumo, Rector Politecnico di Torino, Mario Calabresi, La Stampa, Herbert Burkert, University of St. Gallen, Jafar Javan, UN Staff College, Charles Nesson, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Chiara Basile, Politecnico di Torino, Sirin Tekinay, Ozyegin University, Istanbul, Turkey, Juan Carlos De Martin, NEXA Center for Internet & Society, and Urs Gasser, Berkman Center for Internet & Society