Beyond The Valley (Meet the Author Series)
Monday, April 27, 2020 (1:00 PM - 2:00 PM) (EDT)
In this webinar Ramesh Srinivasan will discuss his provocative book where describes the internet as both an enabler of frictionless efficiency and a dirty tangle of politics, economics, and other inefficient, inharmonious human activities. We may love the immediacy of Google search results, the convenience of buying from Amazon, and the elegance and power of our Apple devices, but it's a one-way, top-down process. We're not asked for our input, or our opinions—only for our data. The internet is brought to us by wealthy technologists in Silicon Valley and China. It's time, Srinivasan argues, that we think in terms beyond the Valley. Ramesh Srinivasan focuses on the disconnection he sees between designers and users, producers and consumers, and tech elites and the rest of us. The recent Cambridge Analytica and Russian misinformation scandals exemplify the imbalance of a digital world that puts profits before inclusivity and democracy. In search of a more democratic internet, Srinivasan takes us to the mountains of Oaxaca, East and West Africa, China, Scandinavia, North America, and elsewhere, visiting the “design labs” of rural, low-income, and indigenous people around the world. He talks to a range of high-profile public figures—including Elizabeth Warren, David Axelrod, Eric Holder, Noam Chomsky, Lawrence Lessig, and the founders of Reddit, as well as community organizers, labor leaders, and human rights activists. To make a better internet, Srinivasan says, we need a new ethic of diversity, openness, and inclusivity, empowering those now excluded from decisions about how technologies are designed, who profits from them, and who are surveilled and exploited by them. The first half will focus on information seeking and literacy by covering contentious topics within chemistry (e.g., fracking, nuclear energy, thalidomide, and research related to the supposed vaccine/autism link) and teaching students about the databases and techniques that can help them identify trustworthy information. The second portion will focus on the history, present, and future of scholarly publishing. Students will learn about current practices by hearing from a journal editor and an acquisition librarian that frequently negotiates with publishers. The final portion will be on data management as a potential solution to some of the issues with publishing. Students will learn how to manage, find, store, and share data related to their research. Other scientific literature or information curricula will be compared to this course by distributing a survey to faculty and staff at colleges and universities and student learning will be assessed by using a pre/post test to determine their confidence and comfort with finding, describing, publishing, and sharing research articles and data.