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


Does the Publius project have a stand on how the Net should be governed?

No. By gathering experts across multiple dimensions of cyberspace and asking them to identify and reflect on the rolling and diverse constitutional moments of net governance, we hope to reflect a wide range of perspectives on how the Net should—or should not—be governed.

A driving belief of the project is the notion that rules, norms, and governance have numerous definitions and manifestations; within this conversational mode, we hope to highlight those rich and varied beliefs. Indeed, we hope to go beyond governance, a topic which some people seem to shy away from, and frame it such that anyone who cares about the Net will be interested—and ideally participate.

If not, why use the Publius authors as a model?

We take our inspiration and mode from the Federalist Papers because the Net is at a very special point in its history as it undergoes its constitutional moments. Now, as then, it’s important to engage in passionate and thoughtful public conversation about the future we are collectively building. But, unlike the original Publius, we’re not advocating for any particular policy or position. Instead, our goal is to highlight a variety of perspectives on this evolutionary process and these constitutional moments.

Why now?

As we highlight in our introductory pieces, norms, rules and decisions about control, power, and governance are constantly evolving and being formulated in this space. In order to effectively understand, influence, and shape those structures, we must ask the questions: what is the regime we’re traveling towards? What is our ideal? How are decisions made in this space, and who makes them?

The original Publius was authored anonymously. Why doesn’t this project require the same from its contributors?

The veil of anonymity taken by Madison, Jay, and Hamilton enabled them to respond to the voices criticizing the draft Constitution and to offer arguments in favor of its ratification. It allowed them to navigate a charged political environment, while not appearing biased — especially as all three had played roles in drafting the Constitution. They took the pseudonym “Publius” or “friend of the people“, to signal their desire to represent the voices of the public meeting house, as opposed to those heard within the esoteric halls of the Constitutional Convention.

Our modern namesake is different. The contributors (with a few exceptions) don’t feel constrained by acknowledging their identities, recognizing that knowing their identities can help readers to contextualize and to understand their ideas. While it is a curated collection, we welcome contributions (anonymously or otherwise) via the comments feature, whether reflections, critiques, or challenges, and trackbacks from across cyberspace to enhance this exploration.

How may I use or re-use the essays you’re publishing?

All of these essays are published under a Creative Commons license that allows anyone to use them in any way they want, so long as you properly attribute them and so long as you use exactly the same Creative Commons license in the work you create using these essays. (You can get more information about the license here).

To make sure you give proper attribution for any essay you re-use, see the details on our Attribution Policy [LINK] page.

By granting a CC BY license, the authors and the project encourage you to rip, mix and burn these pieces. We are eager for these deliberations to reach as far and wide as possible, for them to spur and incorporate new ideas - taking on new life and new relevance. Among our hopes (please contact us if you are interested) is that they will be translated into other languages.

I have my own essay. Will you publish it?

At this stage, we are targeting specific contributors to address the general topics we have outlined. However, Publius is still developing in scope and structure. Although it is a curated collection, if you wish to submit a piece, please contact us. Our expectation is that the project will evolve organically, growing with each contribution and progressively uncovering additional relevant issues, worthwhile framings, and insightful perspectives. Please participate in this process by posting your opinions and reactions via the comments section.

Is the Publius Project only talking about governance issues in the US or from the US perspective?

No. A key goal of the project is to highlight global voices and perspectives on these questions and issues. In creating this platform, we hope that international foundations of the web will be illuminated, and that we can highlight diverse and varied perspectives. Although the Berkman Center is physically located in the US, we are global in our interests and focus, and we eager to have international contributors and conversations.

Who designed your site?

Design By EmType  
Development By DharmaTech
Implementation and Ongoing Maintenance: Daniel Collis-Puro