This course focuses on information as quantity, resource, and property.
We study the application of quantitative methods to understanding how information technologies inform issues of public policy, regulation, and law.
How are music, images, and telephone conversations represented digitally, and how are they moved reliably from place to place through wires, glass fibers, and the air?
Who owns information, who owns software, what forms of regulation and law restrict the communication and use of information, and does it matter?
How can personal privacy be protected at the same time that society benefits from communicated or shared information?
Free lecture videos
The recorded lectures are from the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences course Quantitative Reasoning 48, which was offered as an online course at the Extension School.
The Quicktime and MP3 formats are available for download, or you can play the Flash version directly. These lectures are organized by 12 themes, which can be viewed in any order. Note that some topics are repeated in different themes, as relevant.
- What is information? (i.e., bits reductionism, “it’s all just bits”)
- The explosion (exponential growth, you can save/move/analyze)
- The Internet and the Web
- Secrecy and encryption
- Owning bits—copyright
- Censorship and free speech
- The role of government—laws and regulations
- Radio and television
Instructor: Harry Lewis