Cybernorms – processes of norm creation in young web cultures
I was on an afternoon session at the law faculty in Lund yesterday and presented the Cybernorms project. I had earlier told two of my English-speaking colleagues that I would present in English, in opposition to the rest of the presenters that I figured would present in Swedish. But when I finally got there, a bit underprepared, seeing the stern looking crowd I took cover in my mother tongue.
An apology is in place. The following post should be seen as that (please forgive my cowardice, Julija and Lucas! Now let me correct my error). In addition to this, the project hasn’t been good at giving descriptions of the project for the non-Swedish speaking. This is a continuation of what we have written here.
The reason I was presenting at all was that we as Department in Sociologist of Law had been invited by the Law faculty in order to get to know each others’ research a bit closer. We all share the same research objective in terms of that law is an important part of our research, may it be in the field of genetically modified crop and its application process, environmental law, criminal gangs cases, involuntary care or online norms and for instance copyright.
The “cybernorms” project
This project, that runs this blog, translates to something like Cybernorms – processes of norm creation in young web cultures. It is administratively placed at Lund University and the department of sociology of law, and was started by Dr Måns Svensson, Stefan Larsson (me) and Professor Håkan Hydén, with the official starting date 1 May 2009. This site was however put up in March 2009 and we did a survey on file sharing norms already in January/February the same year. Partly because it was in line with my PhD thesis theme and we figured that we might as well get started as fast as possible. Måns and Håkan were (and is) supervising my PhD research (a couple of few more months left).
When sketching the research project we contacted The Pirate Bay, the BitTorrent tracker that was convicted last year (the men behind it), since we figured that if we are to understand the new practices we need to discuss and receive ideas with people have a good view and insights in the details of the technology-related behaviour. We received attention for this when we later received funding for the project from KK-stiftelsen as one of 9 projects in a pretty grand (SEK 35 millions, about 3.5 million Euro) research program on “young web cultures”. These contacts lead to Marcin de Kaminski, a competent voice in the debate who has become a part of the project.
The project receives funding from KK-stiftelsen from 1 May 2009 until last of April 2013. And the four-year-project is soon to develop from focusing illegal file sharing and its applicable legal norms to also include research regarding the use of pictures online as well as gaming for monetary reasons, likely focusing online poker and its normative structures (and issues).
The first survey we did last year we released as a report also containing an outline of a European legal trend contrasting the social norms of file sharing. Måns and I wrote it and called it Social Norms and Intellectual Property – Online norms and the European legal development and is downloadable from the link.
The second survey and the comparison to the first as well as the very interesting analysis of the effects of the implementation of the IPR enforcement directive in Swedish law, generally called ”the IPRED-law” is under preparation in an article. We have released a few preliminary results on the blog, and you can find our statements in national press when the IPRED-law celebrated its first year in force.
We will perform interviews with 9th grade students in the schools of Lund, starting this fall, in order to get a good understanding of how what place the internet has for these digital natives, so to speak. This will be related to all the three areas of interest in this project, which together hopefully will unlock questions that not merely relates to simplistic issues of each case.
The overarching question regards the creation of social norms in young web cultures and their relation to legal norms, that sort of forms the traditional system the this new practices are born into, often in contrast and conflict.
We have a collaboration with ERICSSON, the company that builds infrastructure for mobile traffic data, and have discussed how we can exchange ideas and information relevant for both parts. One track has lead to a possible offspring project we only briefly mentioned before regarding access to internet for children in India, which we want to use as a means to strengthen child rights, via the educational environment. We also discussing with other partners for scientific collaboration and will release it as soon as it finds a more permanent shape.
So, Julija and Lucas, I hope this can be accepted as an apology for not presenting in English yesterday and also work as a decent presentation for anyone interested in the project that does not speak Swedish. A few international traces can be found online, though: When we released figures on uses of anonymity services among the 15-25-year-olds it spread to blogs in English, English, Hungarian, Spanish and Polish.
And a way to read the blog in English, or something with similarities to English, and perhaps as a last resport, is to use a translator in this way, where “cybernorms” is translated to “cyber standards”. Of course, don’t trust the exact formulations, but one might get the overall picture of what’s written. And if you are not satisfied with that, you can smurfalize it all and for instance find out that the new copyright proposal doesn’t “smurf much difference”.