Summer Internships, Berkman Center for Internet & Society

Sunday, February 12, 2012 - 12:00am

Berkman Center for Internet & Society
Summer Internship Program 2012

Each summer the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University swings open the doors of our big yellow house to welcome a group of talented and curious students as full-time interns - Berkterns! - who are passionate about the promise of the Internet. Finding connected and complementary research inquiries among their diverse backgrounds, students represent all levels of study, are being trained in disciplines across the board, and come from universities all over the world to tackle issues related to the core of Berkman’s research agenda, including law, technology, innovation, and knowledge; the relationship between Internet and civic activity; and technology, law, and development. 

Summer interns jump head first into the swirl of the Berkman universe, where they are deeply and substantively involved in the operation of our research projects and efforts. Becoming invaluable contributors to the Center’s operation and success, interns conduct collaborative and independent research under the guidance of Berkman staff, fellows, and faculty. Specific roles, tasks, and experiences vary depending on Center needs and interns' skills; a select list of expected opportunities for Summer 2012 is below. Traditionally, the workload of each intern is primarily based under one project or suite of projects, with encouragement and flexibility to get involved in additional projects all across the Center.

In addition to joining research teams, summer interns participate in special lectures with Berkman Center faculty and fellows, engage each other through community experiences like weekly interns discussion hours, and attend Center-wide events and gatherings with members of the wider Berkman community. As well, each year interns establish new channels for fun and learning, such as organizing topical debates, establishing reading groups and book clubs, producing podcasts and videos, and hosting potlucks, cook-offs, and BBQs (fortunately for us, people share).

The word "awesome" has been thrown around to describe our internships, but don't take our word for it. Zack McCune, a summer intern from 2008, had this to say: "it has been an enchanting summer working at the berkman center for internet & society.  everyday, i get to hang out with some of the most brilliant people on the planet. we talk, we write (emails), we blog, we laugh, we play rock band. and when things need to get done, we stay late hyped on free coffee and leftover food. it is a distinct honor to be considered a peer among such excellent people. and i am not just talking about the fellows, staff, and faculty, though they are all outstanding. no, i mean my peers as in my fellow interns, who are almost definitely the ripening next generation of changemakers."

Time Commitment:
Summer internships are full time positions (35 hours/week) for 10 weeks. Our Summer 2012 program runs from Monday, June 4 through Friday, August 10.

Interns are paid $11.50 an hour, with the exception of a number of opportunities for law students who are expected to receive some version of summer public interest funding (more about these specific cases at the link for law students below).

Please be forewarned that payment may not be sufficient to cover living expenses in the Boston area. No other benefits are provided, and interns must make their own housing, insurance and transportation arrangements.

Commitment to Diversity:
The work and well-being of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University are strengthened profoundly by the diversity of our network and our differences in background, culture, experience, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, and much more. We actively seek and welcome applications from people of color, women, the LGBTQ community, and persons with disabilities, as well as applications from researchers and practitioners from across the spectrum of disciplines and methods. The roots of this deep commitment are many and, appropriately, diverse. We are not nearly far enough along in this regard, and we may never be. It is a constant process in which there remains much to learn. We welcome your inquiries, comments and ideas on how we may continue to improve.

- Internships are open to students enrolled across the spectrum of disciplines.
- Internships are open to students at different levels of academic study including those in bachelors, masters, law, and Ph.D programs (some flexibility with high school students is possible). Some positions will require that interns be enrolled in a particular kind of academic program.
- Summer interns do not have to be U.S. residents or in school in the U.S., and we welcome and encourage international students to apply.
- Summer interns do not need an existing affiliation with Harvard University.

To Apply:
We know what you're thinking. Yes please. I want that. That sounds magical. Did I mention that I make a mean artichoke dip? Here's what you should do...

Law students: If you are a law student interested in conducting research with the Berkman Center this summer, please find important additional information and application instructions here.

Students from all other disciplines: If you are a student from any discipline except law interested in conducting research with Berkman this summer, please find more information and application instructions here.

Required application materials for all include:
- A cover letter describing your skills and interests. When developing your cover letter, you may wish to consider the following questions: What has led you to pursue research with the Berkman Center and the issues we study? What would you like to gain from working with us this summer, and what will you contribute? How do you think the experience might influence your future efforts? Please feel welcome to address these and/or other topics you would like to share with us.
- A current resume.
- The contact information for two references (professional or academic).

The application deadline for all students for Summer 2012 is Sunday, February 12 2012 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

We look forward to hearing from you! 

Questions?  Email Rebecca Tabasky at



Select Expected Summer 2012 Opportunities:

Interns with the the Broadband Project will conduct primary and secondary research into fiber deployment, both in the US and abroad. Research topics may include municipal fiber networks, how competition impacts price and speed, and the role of spectrum in the broadband debate. More information about the Broadband Project can be found at:

Civic Engagement in Developing and Transitioning Countries
Interns will undertake a variety of research and writing around the use, impact, and design of digital tools for civic engagement in developing and transitioning countries. Inquiries will be broad-based, but particular attention will be given to the study of the promotion of topics such as transparency, accountability, justice and human rights, with a focus on Nigeria.

Cloud Computing Law and Policy
In Spring 2012, the Cloud Computing team at the Berkman Center in collaboration with KEIO University (Japan), the NEXA Center (Italy), and the University of St. Gallen (Switzerland) will make public its wiki-based repository of analyses, resources, and case studies on emerging issues, law, policy and current trends related to cloud computing. Building upon this foundation and under the guidance of Executive Director Urs Gasser, we will be developing specific research and analysis that leverages our international collaboration and existing resources, and ideally creates briefing materials that are useful to policymakers, industry participants, civil society members, and other actors. Interns will work directly with the team to develop associated research.

Cyberlaw Clinic
Interns with the Cyberlaw Clinic contribute to a wide range of real-world litigation, client counseling, licensing, advocacy and legislative projects covering a broad spectrum of legal issues involving the Internet, new technology, intellectual property law, youth online safety and child protection. The Clinic provides high-quality, pro-bono legal services to appropriate individuals, small start-ups, non-profit groups and government entities regarding cutting-edge issues of the Internet, new technology and intellectual property. Interns in the Cyberlaw Clinic can expect direct hands-on experience working with clients under the supervision of the Clinic's staff attorneys. More information about the Cyberlaw Clinic can be found at:

Interns with the Cyberlaw Clinic will be students currently enrolled in a J.D. program in the United States.

Since Spring 2010, the Berkman Center team has been developing a cybersecurity wiki under the guidance of Jack Goldsmith. The wiki provides a set of evolving resources on cybersecurity, broadly-defined, and includes an annotated list of relevant articles and literature. This summer, we will be seeking to update this wiki by adding key resources that have been released since 2010. We also have a series of potential next steps, including, for example, an survey course and an analysis of the 'rhetoric' of cybsecurity, that we also plan to pick up and develop with summer interns.

Digital Libraries
Summer interns working on digital library issues will conduct research related to library users, content, governance, funding, publishing models, and related issues; stay abreast of developments in the digital library field (including news related to e-publishing, copyright, linked open data, and other areas); blog regularly on these issues; and contribute to the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) wiki and website. Depending on summer needs, they may also have the opportunity to create multimedia for the DPLA website. Summer interns will also conduct research on the legal aspects and considerations related to these issues. More information about DPLA can be found at:

Digital Media Law Project
Summer interns at the Digital Media Law Project will work on a wide range of legal research and writing projects relating to media law, intellectual property, and the intersection of journalism and the internet. In past years, interns have updated the Legal Guide to media law topics, developed entries for the database of threats against online publishers, commented on current issues in law and media on the blog, and provided research and drafting assistance on amicus briefs. Interns may also be asked to assist with the operation and expansion of the Online Media Legal Network, an attorney referral service for digital publishers, and with other projects that the DMLP undertakes in conjunction with its partner organizations around the world. More information on summer internships with the DMLP can be found on the DMLP website at:

Freedom of Expression
Summer interns for this suite of projects, which includes Herdict, Internet & Democracy, OpenNet Initiative, Global Network Initiative, and others, will blog regularly about issues concerning online freedom of expression; contribute to related data gathering efforts using online sources; conduct research on internet filtering, monitoring, and control efforts around the globe; update project Twitter and Facebook accounts; and assist international partners. In the past, freedom of expression interns have also contributed to literature reviews, hand coded online content, and supported research on foreign language blogospheres, Twitter and online communities in Russia, China, Iran and the Middle East. More information about some of Berkman’s work on freedom of expression can be found at the following links: ; ; ;

Geek Cave
Help Berkman's geek team keep the Center running. Interns joining the Geek Cave may extend open source software, build scalable websites, or manage the mixed desktop network that keeps us moving. If you’ve been to a Berkman site, you’ve seen the work of the geeks; we also work with partners across Harvard University. Our team works with ruby, perl, php, bash, jQuery, PostgreSQL, MySQL and a slew of other tools, and you can find more information at Berkman’s github:

Harvard Open Access Project (HOAP)
HOAP fosters open access (OA) to research within Harvard, fosters OA beyond Harvard, undertakes research and policy analysis on OA, and provides OA to timely and accurate information about OA itself. Interns with the HOAP will will add relevant information to the Open Access Directory (OAD), a wiki-based encyclopedia of OA; and will contribute to the the Open Access Tracking Project (OATP), a social-tagging project organizing knowledge about OA. There may be opportunities to write research reports on commissioned topics, draft submissions to public-policy consultations, and help organize OA-related events on campus.

Interns working with H2O, a platform that allows professors to create entirely online casebooks that are easily sharable and remixable, will assist in the development of new casebook instances. Following the successful pilot of Prof. Jonathan’s Zittrain’s Torts Class Casebook in the Fall of 2011, this summer we will create several additional casebooks with other Harvard Law School professors. Classes may include Advanced Civil Procedure and Criminal Law. Law students who have an interest in deepening their knowledge in these subjects, as well as extremely dedicated aspiring law students, will work closely with the professors to deliver an entirely online casebook. More information about H2O can be found at:

Information Quality in the Digital Age
Under the guidance of Executive Director Urs Gasser, this project will focus on the multi-faceted phenomenon of "information quality" in the digital age. Building upon previous research efforts, the next stage of exploration will focus on electronic media and work towards a theory of information quality in the digitally networked environment, with a particular interest in the role and interplay of law, social norms, technology, and markets. Interoperability In June 2012, Urs Gasser and John Palfrey will release their book on Interoperability: The Promise and Perils of Highly Interconnected Systems. The book is inspired by their 2005 study and paper—“Breaking Down Digital Barriers: When and How Information and ICT Interoperability Drives Innovation” —which examined the relationship between interoperability and innovation in the ICT environment.

A key input into the process has been the development of supporting case studies that focus on lessons learned from sectors where interoperability is critical, such as transportation, currency markets, and energy. Interns will help to finalize existing cases for release, develop new ones, and also contribute to developing a set of associated online resources online, including a wiki and blog. More information about our Interoperability research can be found at:

The metaLAB is a research unit dedicated to innovation and experimentation in the arts, media and humanities, and metaLAB work ranges from inquiry into the history of media to advanced, open-source software development to installation art practices using hacked sensor devices. Summer interns will participate in current core research areas, including: modeling new forms of multimedia publishing and documentary art practice; creating augmented exhibitions using digitized cultural heritage and library collections; and organizing interdisciplinary gatherings of humanists, technologists, artists, legal scholars and other experimental thinkers. More information about the metaLAB can be found at:

Special Projects - Professor Urs Gasser
A summer intern will work on a variety of projects undertaken by Berkman's Executive Director Urs Gasser (e.g. work on privacy, globalization of law, cyberliability). Tasks include research for presentations, op-eds, and articles. This position requires the ability to find, absorb, critically analyze, and debate large amounts of written and other media materials from sources including scholarly articles, news articles and blogs, and interviews. Knowledge in German or an Asian language is a plus. More information about Urs’ research can be found at:

Special Projects - Professor Jonathan Zittrain
A summer intern in this position will work on a variety of projects undertaken by Professor Jonathan Zittrain, assisting in a variety of research areas (e.g. human computing, mesh networking, and Internet filtering). Summer contributions include research for conferences and presentations (including, for example, JZ’s recent Colbert Report debate); brainstorming article outlines; fact-checking materials; and reviewing original article or paper drafts. This position requires the ability to find, absorb, critically analyze, and debate large amounts of written and other media materials from sources including scholarly articles, news articles and blogs, and interviews with public policymakers. More information about JZ’s research can be found at:

Youth and Media Lab
During a summer at the Youth and Media Lab, interns will contribute to various research, advocacy, and development initiatives around youth and technology. By researching young people’s interactions with digital media such as the Internet, cell phones, and video games, we seek to address the issues their practices raise, learn how to harness the opportunities their digital fluency presents, and shape our regulatory and educational frameworks in a way that advances the public interest.

A summer intern will work for one of the Lab’s three main tracks: exploratory research, curriculum development, and tool development. The research track includes literature reviews, surveys, focus groups, and one-on-one interviews to better map youth’s usage of technology. Building upon these findings, the curriculum track aims to develop and test educational modules in collaboration with youth, designed for both formal and informal learning settings. The modules address youth’s awareness and understanding of their technology usage and bear important policy implications. Third, the Lab’s team seeks to develop a set of media literacy tools (“navigation aids for cyberspace”) including an application to assess news quality, a set of badges, etc.

Spending a summer with the Lab means joining a diverse and creative team. Past summer interns have brought expertise and enthusiasm for human-computer interaction, digital art, filmmaking, radio production, joining team members excelling in areas such as law and policy, communications, and the social sciences. The Lab’s intellectual diversity encourages collective brainstorming and discussion of how each individual team member can advance the Lab’s agenda. More information about the Youth and Media Lab can be found at:


No comments