Business and government leaders, and the “laws of physics” of technology


I was incredibly excited, this past April, to play a minor role in getting a small event pulled together to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Larry Lessig’s paper “The laws of cyberspace” (Lessig – 1998). A paper that is just as relevant today as it was twenty years ago.

You can see a re-cap of the event here: Force of Nature – Celebrating 20 years of the laws of cyberspace

Government and business organizations, over the past few decades, have (or are on their way to) become technology organizations – whether they are willing to acknowledge it to themselves, or not. Yet, the technical bits have not been, and are increasingly less, the central part of this transformation. As a result, non-technical business and government leaders need to invest time to understand the “laws of physics” of the digital space (cyberspace). Delegating this responsibility to the “technology” people in the organization (CIO, CTO, CISO, etc.) is no longer sufficient.

As highlighted in Larry’s paper, cyberspace is influenced and regulated by four forces: social norms, markets, laws, and “code”. For individual organizations, these forces affect business strategies, products & services, supply chains, and business operations. One needs only to look at the news every week and the debates over such things as Net Neutrality, Privacy, Cybersecurity, GDPR, SESTA-FOSTA, CDA 230, the Cloud Act, etc. to understand why it is becoming critical for business/government leaders to get up to speed on these issues.

We (Scott and I) assign Larry’s paper as required reading for the first week of the classes we teach. I would recommend it to anyone who is in a business or government leadership positions, and appreciates the centrality of technology to every aspect of what they do as an organization.


2017 HKS Exec Ed program “Cybersecurity: at the intersection of technology and policy”


Another successful run of the fantastic program.  Great group of attendees as usual, with representation from all corners of the U.S. Federal government, as well as other countries, and some private sector representatives.  Mind-blowing topics and lectures every day.  And of course, the always fun cyberwarfare exercise on Friday.  See here for more information.  And here, here, here, and here for some feedback on the program


New semester, and over 200 students!


Here we go, another semester starts for CSCI e45a, with the “all online” format that we started last year.  Very exciting and a little scary to have 226 students enrolled. I hope this is an indication that the content of the course is becoming more important and relevant to folks out there!


Another successful run of the Cyber warfare exercise


US CYBERCOMMANDAs part of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Executive Education program on Cybersecurity: The Intersection of Policy and Technology, we ran the cybersecurity warfare scenario that we have used for many years now.  As usual it seemed to be a blast for both participants and organizers.  The original gang was back with professor Jim Waldo leading the charge.  I also had a couple of folks from the Harvard Info Sec team join the fun.

Incidentally, I today I received a patch for the U.S Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) with an MD5 hash on it: 9ec4c12949a4f31474f299058ce2b22a

It is the hash for the mission statement of USCYBERCOM:

USCYBERCOM plans, coordinates, integrates, synchronizes and conducts activities to: direct the operations and defense of specified Department of Defense information networks and; prepare to, and when directed, conduct full spectrum military cyberspace operations in order to enable actions in all domains, ensure US/Allied freedom of action in cyberspace and deny the same to our adversaries.

A Herman Hollerith early IBM tabulating machine


Today at the MIT Swapfest, I found and bought a punch card making machine/device.  It is from The Tabulating Machine Company.  The Tabulating Machine Company was founded by Herman Hollerith – initially in 1896 as Tabulating Machine Company, and again in 1905 as The Tabulating Machine Company – to commercialize his tabulating machine which he invented and revolutionized the US Census tabulation process in in the late 1800’s.  In 1911, The Tabulating Machine Company and three other companies came together as the Computing Tabulating Recording (CTR) company, which a few years later in 1924 became International Business Machines corporation (IBM).  But the individual companies in the CTR holding company continued to use their original name until 1933, so this device could have been made anytime between 1905 and 1933.

Hollerith 1 Hollerith 2