Being a “Berktern”: Sabina Hartnett ’18 reflects on Summer 2016

Professor Crystal Hall and Sabina Hartnett ’18 recently reflected on Sabina’s experience as an intern with the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University in Summer 2016. Look for announcements about future opportunities as a “Berktern” in February!

Prof. Hall: First, can you describe your internship? What was the big picture? What was your day-to-day work like?

Sabina: Last summer I worked at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. I worked specifically on the Lumen Project (lumendatabase.org) which is a third party transparency website publishing takedown notices (primarily DMCA related). You can kind of think of it as a graveyard for online, albeit often copyright infringing, content. We published notices from a variety of sources, the largest being Google and Twitter. The takedown notices were most often a result of copyright infringement, but were also comprised of defamation notices, trademark, and court orders among other things. Day-to-day I spent time on all levels of the project; I spent time manually parsing through notices and redacting confidential information, I read about current copyright/piracy/torrent/defamation/cyber-law related news and curating our project’s Twitter content, I wrote blog posts, and I conducted individual research on a subset of the data.

Prof. Hall: How did the internship connect with your DCS courses and research?

Sabina: ​While my project dealt with a very niche part of online content-sharing and the importance of collecting data (we can consider Lumen’s database of notices Big Data), I found it incredibly useful to have a DCS background and thus context. From DCS I got a taste of the importance of various data collections and analyses and was better able to appreciate my project and its significance. Not to mention that, for my individual research I did all my analysis (both qualitative and quantitative) and visualizations in R!

Prof. Hall: What advice do you have for anyone thinking about applying for a Berkman Center Fellowship or a similar summer experience?

Sabina: The Berkman Klein Intern program is AWESOME- they do a great job of bringing in a variety of people from a range of backgrounds to build a cohesive and productive community. I had a blast getting to know the other interns as well as some of the Center’s fellows and staff. I would encourage people of all academic backgrounds to consider applying to this internship as well as any similar ones, it’s a great way to expose yourself to new thought processes, ideologies, and academic approaches! It’s amazing to see how so many disciplines can overlap and work together to productively solve real world problems and conduct academic research. My only caveat (for any and all researchers) is to be wary of burn-out, going right from Bowdoin, to another academic setting, back to Bowdoin is tiring. But if you find an opportunity as exciting as the Berkman Klein Center – it is 110% worth it!!