Law in Contemporary Society

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Law in Contemporary Society

Professor Eben Moglen
Columbia Law School, Spring 2024

On February 27, we will consider EbenMoglenFirstEssay and finish discussing "All Great Problems Come From the Streets" from Lawyerland. For February 29, please read "Something Split" from the same work.
On February 29, we will still be considering EbenMoglenFirstEssay and I hope we will at last finish discussing "All Great Problems Come From the Streets" from Lawyerland. Please read Noam Chomsky, Ian Roberts and Jeffrey Watumull, The False Promise of ChatGPT, New York Times, March 8, 2023

First drafts of first essays were due at close of Friday 23 February. If you have not yet filed a draft, please do so as soon as possible. See FirstEssay for instructions and a template. A recent bad first draft of mine can be found in EbenMoglenFirstEssay, if you are interested.

On March 5, we will begin discussing "Something Split" from ._Lawyerland._

My office hours Spring 2024 will be Wednesdays 4:15-6pm and Thursdays 10:30-12n and 3-5pm (usually reserved for 1L students). If you need to see me but cannot make office hours, please email for an appointment.

On the Radar

Aditya Chakrabortty, If we fight racism in silos, we just cant win, The Guardian, April 27, 2023

Transcript: Ezra Klein Interviews Matthew Desmond, New York Times, April 21, 2023

Tech guru Jaron Lanier: The danger isn't that AI destroys us. It's that it drives us insane, The Guardian, March 23, 2023

Noam Chomsky, Ian Roberts and Jeffrey Watumull, The False Promise of ChatGPT, New York Times, March 8, 2023

David Thomas, Washington lawyer Tom Goldstein leaves Supreme Court practice, law firm, Reuters, March 1, 2023

Corey Doctorow How Google Ran Out of Ideas, The Nation, February 16, 2023 (alternate location)

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, The Meaning of African-American Studies, The New Yorker, February 3, 2023 (alt loc)

James Somers, Whispers of A.I.s Modular Future, New Yorker, February 1, 2023 (alt loc)

David D. Kirkpatrick, The Police Folklore That Helped Kill Tyre Nichols, The New Yorker, January 28, 2023 (alt loc)

Noam Cohen, The Culture Wars Look Different on Wikipedia, The Atlantic, January 22, 2023 (alt loc)

Hadley Freeman, The Rosenbergs were executed for spying in 1953. Can their sons reveal the truth?, The Guardian, June 19. 2021

Libby Brooks, Report urges Scottish government to introduce misogyny act, The Guardian, March 8, 2022

Musa al-Gharbi.No, America is not on the cusp of a civil war, The Guardian, January 27, 2022

Jiayang Fan, The Atlanta Shooting and the Dehumanizing of Asian Women, The New Yorker, March 19, 2021

Davey Alba, How Anti-Asian Activity Online Set the Stage for Real-World Violence, New York Times, March 19, 2021

Marie Solis, 'A specific kind of racism': Atlanta shootings fuel fears over anti-sex-work ideology, The Guardian, March 18, 2021

Dan Davies, Less regulation means more business for the City, right? It's not that simple, The Guardian, March 9, 2021

Mishi Choudhary and Eben Moglen, Social Media is Flawed by Design, Times of India, February 16, 2021

Peter Brannen, The Terrifying Warning Lurking in the Earth’s Ancient Rock Record, The Atlantic, March 2021

Murray Waas, Jeff Sessions impeded inquiry into role in Trump’s family separation policy, The Guardian, January 22, 2021

Ed Pilkington and Ankita Rao, A tale of two New Yorks: pandemic lays bare a city's shocking inequities, The Guardian, April 10, 2020

Shaun Nichols, Yeah, that Zoom app you're trusting with work chatter? It lives with 'vampires feeding on the blood of human data', The Register, March 27, 2020

Thomas B. Edsall, The Contract With Authoritarianism, New York Times, April 5, 2018

Lara Putnam and Theda Skocpol, Middle America Reboots Democracy, February 20, 2018

Eben Moglen and Mishi Choudhary, Convenience vs freedom: Facebook-Cambridge Analytica debacle shows how social media companies imperil democracy, The Times of India, March 23, 2018

Gaby Pacheco, What the Dreamers Can Teach the Parkland Kids, New York Times, March 17, 2018

Farhad Manjoo, For Two Months, I Got My News From Print Newspapers. Here’s What I Learned, New York Times, March 7, 2018

Juliet Macur, Suicides, Drug Addiction and High School Football, Sports of the Times, New York Times, March 8, 2018

Luis Alberto Urrea, Looking at Trump’s ‘Beautiful Wall’, New York Times, March 3, 2018

Fred Harris and Alan Curtis, The Unmet Promise of Equality, New York ETimes, February 28, 2018

Jennifer Rubin, Trump is right back where he started, and that's a problem for the GOP, Right Turn, Washington Post, February 22, 2018

Sam Quinones, Guns and Opioids Are American Scourges Fueled by Availability, New York Times, February 24, 2018

Thor Benson, From Whole Foods to Amazon, Invasive Technology Controlling Workers Is More Dystopian Than You Think, In These Times, February 21, 2018

Thomas B. Edsall, Why Is It So Hard for Democracy to Deal With Inequality?, New York Times, February 15, 2018

Ian Sample, Creative thought has a pattern of its own, brain activity scans reveal, The Guardian, January 16, 2018

Adam M. Enders and Jamil S. Scott, White racial resentment has been gaining political power for decades, Washington Post, January 15, 2018



Vinod Sreeharshaapril, When Warren Met Jorge Paulo: Buffett and Lemann Recall Their First Deal, New York Times, April 10, 2017

Sam Roberts, E. Clinton Bamberger, Lawyer With a ‘Fire for Justice,’ Is Dead at 90, New York Times, February 17, 2017

Claire Cain Miller, Republican Men Say It’s a Better Time to Be a Woman Than a Man, New York Times, January 17, 2017



Michael S. Gazzaniga, A Road Trip to the Origin of Our Species, New York Times, February 20, 2016

Elizabeth Olson, High Rate of Problem Drinking Reported Among Lawyers, New York Times, February 5, 2016

Conor Dougherty, Jay Edelson, the Class Action Lawyer Who May Be Tech's Least Friended Man, New York Times, April 4, 2015

Maureen Dowd, An Open Letter to, New York Times, March 15, 2015

Brendan Nyhan, Patriot Games: Why Giuliani and Other Obama Critics Play the ‘American’ Card, New York Times, February 23, 2015

Maggie Haberman and Nicholas Confessore, Giuliani: Obama Had a White Mother So I'm Not a Racist, New York Times, February 19, 2015



Peter Lattman, Suit Offers a Peek at the Practice of Inflating a Legal Bill, New York Times, March 26, 2013.

Ethan Bronner, A Call for Drastic Changes in Educating New Lawyers, New York Times, February 11, 2013.

Cerriere's Answer from Lawrence Joseph, Lawyerland (2000).

Something Split from Lawrence Joseph, Lawyerland (2000).

Bartleby the Scrivener, from Herman Melville, The Piazza Tales (1856).


A Word on Technology Old and New About the Word

This course is centered in the experience of classroom dialogue. Everything we read and write will be intended to help us understand better what we learn from listening to one another. I say "listening," because in a conversation with so many voices, we're all going to be listening much more than we are talking. So this is an extended exercise in active listening.

It turns out that wiki is a very good medium for active listeners. Below you will find an introduction to this particular wiki, or TWiki, where you can learn as much or as little about how this technology works as you want.

For now, the most important thing is just that any page of the wiki has an edit button, and your work in the course consists of writings that we will collaboratively produce here. You can make new pages, edit existing pages, attach files to any page, add links, leave comments in the comment boxes--whatever in your opinion adds to a richer dialog. During the semester I will assign writing exercises, which will also be posted here. All of everyone's work contributes to a larger and more informative whole, which is what our conversation is informed by, and helps us to understand. This is a law school course, so one cannot prevent altogether the stupidity of grades.

Please begin by registering. I look forward to seeing you at our first meeting.

Introduction to the LawContempSoc Web

The LawContempSoc site is a collaborative class space built on Twiki [], a free software wiki system. If this is your first time using a wiki for a long term project, or first time using a wiki at all, you might want to take a minute and look around this site. Every page has a history: all the versions it has accumulated through each person's edits. Use the "History" button at the top of each page to explore that history. When we edit a page, using the "Edit" button, the old version is still part of the history, so editing is additive, not destructive. If you see something on the page that you don't know how to create in a wiki, take a look at the text that produced it using the "Raw" button at the top of each page, and feel free to try anything out in the Sandbox.

All of the Twiki documentation is also right at hand. Follow the TWiki link in the sidebar. There are a number of good tutorials and helpful FAQs there explaining the basics of what a wiki does, how to use Twiki, and how to format text.

From TWiki's point of view, this course, Law in Contemporary Society, is one "web." There are other webs here: the sandbox for trying wiki experiments, for example, and my other courses, etc. You're welcome to look around in those webs too, of course. Below are some useful tools for dealing with this particular web of ours. You can see the list of recent changes, and you can arrange to be notified of changes, either by email or by RSS feed. I would strongly recommend that you sign up for one or another form of notification; if not, it is your responsibility to keep abreast of the changes yourself.

LawContempSoc Web Utilities

Revision 428r428 - 28 Feb 2024 - 13:36:09 - EbenMoglen
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