Room 221 at The Berkman Center, home to the OpenNet Initiative (ONI) and Herdict, is a lively office constantly abuzz with discussion: of Internet filtering, surveillance, and sheep. But ONI and Herdict don’t just share an office; the two initiatives also share very similar ideals…but very different methods.
ONI’s aim is “to investigate, expose, and analyze Internet filtering and surveillance practices in a credible and non-partisan fashion.” In order to do this, ONI employs a multidisciplinary approach to ensure accurate results, using a rigorous approach to determine technical means of filtering.
Herdict, on the other hand, provides a user-generated perspective of web accessibility by allowing users to submit sites they find to be inaccessible (or accessible, of course). Herdict is dynamic, offering up-to-the-minute information from all around the world.
Of course, it’s the potential interaction between the two initiatives that’s most fascinating – Let’s say the ONI team is working hard, looking at countries known to employ heavy filtering tactics, when suddenly a Herdict user in Canada (a country which is unlikely to heavily filter the Internet) reports YouTube inaccessible. That information would allow ONI to respond quickly, running tests to determine whether or not the site is truly blocked. And that’s only one potential scenario!
We’re just beginning to discover the different possibilities for Herdict and ONI to interact and look forward to launching Herdict for Network Health soon so that you can share in our excitement!
-Jillian C. York