Publius Project
Essays & conversations about constitutional moments on the Net collected by the Berkman Center.

Project Overview

This project brings together a distinguished collection of Internet observers, scholars, innovators, entrepreneurs, activists, technologists and still other experts, to write short essays, to foster an on-going public dialogue, and to create a durable record of how the rules of cyberspace are being formed, potentially impacting their future incarnation. We take our inspiration from the Publius authors, but our goal is to highlight a variety of perspectives on this evolutionary process, rather than to sway popular opinion towards a particular policy end. The early American context and perspective is supplanted by our modern, global and diverse experience. The notion of a singular constitutional moment is replaced with a vision of multiple forces shaping the structures that both open and constrict the online space, requiring our active attention and engagement. Participants will be asked to reflect on the various elements of this loosely-joined architecture.

This collection will highlight asynchronous moments occurring in high profile settings and at the edges of cyberspace that link to formulate the norms and realities of decision-making on the web. Through this series of essays, we hope to generate a discussion among global stakeholders and netizens regarding rule-making and governance on the net, and in the process, to envision the net of the future. We will cast fundamental questions that will intrigue both experts and laypeople, by asking who should (or shouldn’t) control cyberspace? Can it be governed? Who decides?

Through this process, we will consider how best to protect our common resources, how to balance individual freedoms with community rights, public action with private activity, national security with personal expression, intellectual property protections with open access. In echoing historical dilemmas, we will ask how cyberspace stimulates innovative thinking regarding authority and rules and how those ideas might shape the future “constitutions” of the net. It will be a thought-provoking and illuminating journey, and we very much hope that you will join us.