March 03, 2009
The Berkman Center for Internet & Society has launched Herdict Web, which allows users to report site inaccessibility around the world. The website aggregates reports in real time, so that users can see whether inaccessibility is a shared problem. Trends can be viewed over time, by site and by country.
Herdict is an outgrowth of the OpenNet Initiative, a Berkman Center collaboration with other research institutions, which catalogs and studies instances of Internet filtering and censorship. But, whereas the OpenNet Initiative views Internet filtering through a centralized evaluation process, Herdict uses “crowd sourcing”—aggregating reports from users—to gather information about inaccessibility which can later be used to deduce its causes.
In addition, the site has another function, says its creator, Professor Jonathan Zittrain ’95, author of the “The Future of the Internet—And How to Stop It.” “It’s a civic technology,” he says, “an attempt to get people to see themselves as global ‘netizens,’ engaged in a collective effort in producing humanity’s information medium.”