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Harvard Professor Called 'Sheriff' of the Internet

For the Heights

Published: Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Updated: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 23:02


Harvard’s Benjamin Edelman has become the sheriff to the Wild West that is today’s Internet.

Edelman, who is now an associate professor at Harvard Business School, has always had a particular prowess for Internet ethics. At age 13, Edelman wrote a program that helps clients decide on components for Gateway computers. In high school, he helped businesses set up databases and websites. While a student at Harvard, Edelman was making up to $400 an hour as an expert witness for the National Football League, aiding in the fight against unauthorized web browsing, according to By his senior year, Edelman was enlisted by the American Civil Liberties Union and paid $300 an hour to oppose the government’s use of information filters in libraries.

Edelman is “an astonishing scholar of the Internet,” said Alvin Roth, a Nobel prize- winning colleague, according to Bloomberg Technology. “It’s the Wild West out there, and Ben is the sheriff.” Edelman, through his lucrative form of consulting, seeks to promote and enforce online behavior norms as well as seek out Internet misdeeds. “The Internet is what we make of it,” Edelman said. “We can shape it through diligence by exposing the folks that make it less good than it ought to be.”

Edelman has not shied away from the Internet giants. While he has done work for Microsoft, he has also actively criticized Google, Inc. and Facebook, Inc. This, in turn, has caused many Internet corporations—and even Harvard colleagues—to become wary of him. Edelman sticks by his ethics, however, telling Bloomberg Technology,“I am who I am. I can’t stop being me.”

Boston University

Boston University is taking steps to limit alcohol abuse by its students. While the school already has an alcohol enforcement policy in place, many officials at the university believe it is not strict enough, particularly after 11 students had to be rushed to the hospital last weekend, according to CBS Boston. After urging from the university, BU police are stepping up patrols, particularly plainclothes officers, and concentrating in popular party spots on and off campus. Even some students are beginning to agree with the increased measures. “Pretty much every weekend, you see ambulances going from some of the younger kids’ dorms,” said BU senior Scott Shaw, according to CBS Boston. “I’m glad they’re stepping up.” Nevertheless, there is an unsurprising student resistance, as many fear the potential for increased animosity toward police and even bad decisions made by students trying to protect themselves from disciplinary consequences.


Nine students from MIT were among the 126 researchers awarded 2014 Sloan Research Fellowships, according to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The MIT researchers have a diverse background, including three neuroscientists, three chemists, two mathematicians, and an ocean scientist.

Since 1955, Sloan Research Fellowships have been awarded to ambitious scientists and scholars early in their careers. The fellowships recognize the students’ achievements and identify them as rising stars in the next generation of scientific leaders. This year’s recipients were drawn from 61 colleges and universities across the United States and Canada, according to MIT News.

The fellowships are awarded in eight different fields, including chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, molecular biology, neurosciences, ocean sciences, and physics. Participants must be nominated by fellow scientists and be selected by an independent panel of scholars. These nine MIT students will receive $50,000 to be used in further research in their given field. 


Emerson College has teamed up with Tufts University to create a video game called Civic Seed. This multi-player, interactive, online video game was created by Tufts’ Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service and Emerson’s Engagement Game Lab. Civic Seed, which is set to launch this month, was created to prepare college students for community service and internships. “Student under-preparedness for working in communities is a pressing issue,” said Mindy Nierenberg, according to Campus Technology.Nierenberg is the senior student programs manager at the Tisch College and the director of the leadership minor in Tufts School of Arts and Sciences. Civic Seed aims to remedy such under-preparedness by having players explore “community collaboration, professional standards, sustainability, connecting academic interest to career aspirations, and leadership development” as well as respond to questions that form their “civic resume,” signifying the game’s completion.


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