Title: Technology’s Law of Amplification, and What It Means for iSchools
The same social media that connects us with friends and colleagues accelerates fake news. The same Internet that enables international banking allows remote theft and ransomware. The same digital technology that empowers economic growth exacerbates inequality. In 2015, I published a book, Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology(PublicAffairs), that proposed that a simple “Law of Amplification” explained and even predicted these kinds of information technology impacts — positive, negative, and in between. My hope was to influence two key groups familiar to the information community: technologists interested in social change, and social activists excited about applying technology.
Four years out, I am not sure what the net impact of the book has been, but I have received a lot of excellent feedback. In this talk, I will overview the amplification thesis, discuss the feedback I have heard (and not heard), and highlight a paradoxical consequence of technological amplification — that in an age of advanced technology, people and institutions matter even more than before. This last point hints at an essential, discipline-unifying role for Schools of Information that I would like to propose for the iConference community.
BIO: Kentaro Toyama is W. K. Kellogg Professor of Community Information at the University of Michigan School of Information and a fellow of the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at MIT. He is the author of Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology. From 2005-2009, Toyama was co-founder and assistant managing director of Microsoft Research India. There, he started the Technology for Emerging Markets research group, which conducts interdisciplinary research to understand how the world’s poorest communities interact with electronic technology and to invent new ways for technology to support their socio-economic development. Prior to his time in India, Toyama did research in artificial intelligence, computer vision, and human-computer interaction at Microsoft and taught mathematics at Ashesi University in Ghana. Toyama graduated from Yale with a PhD in computer science and from Harvard with a bachelors degree in physics.
Plenary slides for Kentaro’s keynote are available here.
Title: Opening our Libraries: Millions of Books Online through Controlled Digital Lending
Today, a growing majority of people get their information online—often filtered through for-profit platforms. For many, if a book isn’t online, it’s as if it doesn’t exist. Yet much of modern knowledge still lives only on the printed page, stored in libraries. Libraries haven’t met this digital demand, stymied by costs, ebook restrictions, policy risks, and missing infrastructure.
But now, through innovations in technology and new legal frameworks, we have the power to transform our library system and bring it into the digital age. The Internet Archive’s Open Libraries project is working with library partners across the country to bring 4 million books online, starting with a wishlist of the most widely held and used books in libraries and classrooms.
Our project includes expanded circulation of these digital books, enabling libraries who own the physical works to lend digital copies to their patrons.Through Open Libraries, thousands of libraries can unlock their analog collections for a new generation of learners, ensuring free, long-term, public access to knowledge
BIO: A passionate advocate for public Internet access and a successful entrepreneur, Brewster Kahle has spent his career intent on a singular focus: providing Universal Access to All Knowledge. He is the founder and Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive, one of the largest libraries in the world. Soon after graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he studied artificial intelligence, Kahle helped found the company Thinking Machines, a parallel supercomputer maker. In 1989, Kahle created the Internet’s first publishing system called Wide Area Information Server (WAIS), later selling the company to AOL. In 1996, Kahle co-founded Alexa Internet, which helps catalog the Web, selling it to Amazon.com in 1999. The Internet Archive, which he founded in 1996, now preserves 40 petabytes of data – the books, Web pages, music, television, and software of our cultural heritage, working with more than 600 library and university partners to create a digital library, accessible to all.
Carla Diane Hayden is an American librarian and the 14th Librarian of Congress. She is the first woman and the first African American to hold the post, and she is the first professional librarian appointed to the post in over 60 years. Hayden attended Roosevelt University in Chicago (B.A., political science, 1973), also earning a master’s degree and a doctorate from the University of Chicago Graduate Library School (1977, 1987).
Hayden began her library career at the Chicago Public Library. From 1973 to 1979, she worked as an Associate/Children’s Librarian and from 1979 to 1982, she was Young Adult Services Coordinator.
From 1982 to 1987, Hayden worked as a Library Services Coordinator at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. Following this, she was the CEO of Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Maryland from 1993 until 2016. She advanced the Baltimore library system into the digital age, greatly expanding the library’s digital resources, increasing the number of computers available to the public, and opening an after-school center for teens. During her tenure with the Baltimore library, she oversaw the opening of the system’s first new branch in more than three decades.
During this time, she became the president of the American Library Association (ALA) from 2003 to 2004, choosing as the theme of her presidency “Equity of Access.” In this role, Hayden was vocal in her public opposition to the Patriot Act, leading a battle for the protections of library users’ privacy.
On February 24, 2016, President Barack Obama nominated Hayden to serve as the next Librarian of Congress.
On July 13, 2016, she was confirmed as Librarian of Congress by a 74-18 vote in the United States Senate. Hayden was sworn in by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts on September 14, 2016. Even though more than eighty percent of American librarians are women, for over two hundred years, the position of Librarian of Congress was filled exclusively by white men, making her appointment notably historic.