Friday, August 22, 2008

RESEARCH ASSISTANT to BENKLER & "The Cooperation Research Group"

Janet Moran sent this:
Hello all,

As we gear up for the fall semester, Research Assistant positions are starting to spring up! Many opportunities will be announced in the coming weeks, and we have an early announcement now: researching with Professor Yochai Benkler and his cooperation group.

Details about the position are below, and an information session about the cooperation group will be held in the Berkman Center's conference room on September 4th at 6:00 p.m. (The Berkman Center is located at 23 Everett Street, 2nd Floor, Cambridge, MA). Snacks will be provided.

Keep an eye on our Internship page for listings as they arise: You can apply to the positions as they are posted, and we will hold our Fall Open House on the evening of September 24th, location TBD, where you can learn about the research and meet members of the Berkman community.

As always, please feel free to send this announcement to your friends and colleagues who may have interest in the exciting opportunity with Professor Benkler.

All best,


Please submit all required materials to Janet Moran at no later than August 28, 2008 at 5pm.

Project Description:

What makes Wikipedia or digg succeed? What makes other collaborative efforts fail? Peer production?large scale cooperation among human participants?has become an increasingly important mechanism for the creation of information, knowledge, and culture. Civil society organizations like the Sunlight Foundation are building collaborative platforms to expose government abuses. Businesses like Threadless T- Shirts and Amazon Mechanical Turk are using it to harness distributed intelligence and work capabilities. The intelligence community has set up an internal Intellipedia, and the Army, Company Commander. Some diffuse social networks like CouchSurfing or BookCrossing are using it to
share sleeping accommodations or books, while others, like DailyKos, harness political mobilization.

The Cooperation Research Group, led by Professor Yochai Benkler, analyzes the design of cooperative human systems through a combination of interdisciplinary observational, experimental, and theoretical studies. As part of this project, the group is embarking on a new effort to provide a map of commons-based and cooperative peer production today. The purpose of the study is to offer a systematic analysis of a wide range of information and knowledge production sectors, to identify practices, list them, describe them, and categorize them.

To learn more, watch Prof. Benkler's TED talk on collaboration here:

Job Task/Responsibilities:

Research Assistants will have the opportunity to contribute substantively to this project, conducting and writing case studies as well as providing input on overall research design and execution.

As part of this position, you will need to:

* Conduct in-depth research on commons-based peer-production using
online resources, library databases and secondary sources,
ethnographic participant observation of online communities, as
well as statistical and/or computational data collection.

* Write-up findings on a regular, iterative basis, conforming to
research protocols and deadlines laid out by Professor Benkler and
project leaders.

* Submit written results to online repositories in a timely and
organized fashion.

* Present results to the rest of the research group on a bi-weekly

* Critically and constructively engage with group members' research;
collaborate openly on all projects; integrate feedback & criticism
of your own work.

The position will begin in mid-September. The required commitment is approximately 15 hours per week (including weekly case study research group meetings) through December 15.