Power, Privacy, and the Internet

The New York Review of Books just put up the audio for a conference it held on “Power, Privacy, and the Internet.” The conference was held 30-31 October 2013 in New York City, and there are some significant people that took part. (I also note that the image they used for the page is the same as the cover of Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge [2013].) Here is Simon Head addressing the themes of the conference:

The Internet is a transformative technology of our times and it is changing our lives as perhaps nothing else has done since the coming of the telephone, the telegraph, and the mass production automobile a century and more ago. Where the Internet surpasses these earlier technologies is in the speed with which its reach is expanding—in our contacts with one another through Twitter and Facebook, in what we read, hear, and buy; in our dealings with business, government, colleges and schools, and they in their dealings with us. Whether we like it or not we are caught up in these flows of technology and as we are carried along by the flows, some barely visible to us, it becomes increasingly difficult to stand back and distinguish between what is good about these innovations and what is not.

I am especially interested in listening to the panel on “The Internet, the Book, and the University Library,” with Robert Darnton and Anthony Grafton. (Among Grafton’s many other accomplishments, he is also the author of The Footnote: A Curious History [Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997], a surprisingly fascinating history of the footnote that I read a few years ago to help me think about David Foster Wallace’s use of footnotes, something I never really ended up working on. . . .)

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