Kentaro Toyama, W.K. Kellogg Associate 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, works on the relationship of technology and global development. Previously, he was a researcher at UC Berkeley and assistant managing director of Microsoft Research India, which he co-founded in 2005. At MSR India, he started the Technology for Emerging Markets research group, which conducts interdisciplinary research to understand how the world’s poorer communities interact with electronic technology and to invent new ways for technology to support their socio-economic development.
Kentaro graduated from Yale with a PhD in Computer Science.
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.
Date, time and location TBA
Brewster Kahle, Digital Librarian and Founder of the Internet Archive, has been working to provide universal access to all knowledge for more than 25 years. Since the mid-1980s, Kahle has focused on developing technologies for information discovery and digital libraries. In 1989 Kahle invented the Internet’s first publishing system, WAIS (Wide Area Information Server) system. In 1996, Kahle founded the Internet Archive which may be the largest digital library. At the same time, he co-founded Alexa Internet which helps catalog the Web in April 1996, which was sold to Amazon.com in 1999.
Kahle earned a B.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1982.
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.
Date, time and location TBA