Digital Odyssey 2012

Digital Odyssey is a one-day conference organized by The Ontario Library and Information Technology Association (OLITA) that focuses on themes of research, learning, accessibility, and usability associated with technology in libraries.

This year’s theme is Liberation Technology.

Liberation Technology as a field of study seeks to understand how information technology can be used to pursue a variety of social goods. This includes any technology that enables citizens to express opinions, deepen participation in society, and expand their freedoms.

With the intersection between social justice issues and technology making headlines, through the Arab Spring, Anonymous, and the Occupy movement, OLITA felt that focusing specifically on liberation technology would make a timely topic for this year’s Digital Odyssey.

Please join along in the conversation #olita 

Program – Please click on the highlighted titles to view a video of the session

8:00am     Breakfast
9:00am    Welcome: Nick Ruest       
9:10am    Keynote: Kate Milberry: The Knowledge Factory Hack: From Open Access to Anonymous …or why information wants to be free 
10:15am    Break
10:30am    Session 1a: Inside the Black Box: Hacker culture, librarians and hardware  Speaker: Fiacre O’Duinn
10:30am    Session 1b: Open Data is dead!  Long live Open Data! Speaker: MJ Suhonos
11:30am    Lunch
12:00pm    OLA AGM
1:00pm    Thunder talks
1. Hannah Turner — The digitization of cultural heritage: Objects and Access
2. Michelle Thomson — The People’s Library: Activism, Community-Building, and Collaboration at the Occupy Wall Street Library
3. Rebecka Sheffield — Citizen Archivists: Transcribing History for Future Generations
4. Maggie Reid – A balanced look at Copyright Reform?
2:00pm    Session 2a: “Outside-In” Speaker: Jutta Treviranus
2:00pm    Session 2b: A TORid Affair: Librarians, Ethics & Liberation Technology Speakers: Sarah Wiebe and Shelley Archibald
3:00pm    Break
3:30pm    Session 3: Encouraging Creativity or Diminishing Dialogue? A Critical Account of Digital Copyright in Canada. Speaker: Professor Carys Craig
4:30pm    Final Remarks        


Keynote: Kate Milberry, PhD University of Alberta
The Knowledge Factory Hack: From Open Access to Anonymous …or why information wants to be free 

From the internet’s inception and the birth of hacker culture at MIT’s Artificial Intelligence lab, the big idea was that information could not be contained. Physical locks could not keep out the curious computer geeks who were designing the software that made computers sing, and digital locks were anathema to the web of code that would eventually interconnect them on a global scale. The ethos of openness, and the very political position that information must be free if society is to advance, was built into the technical infrastructure of the internet and emerged in the culture of the digital commons.

Today corporate, criminal and governmental forces are working to lock down the internet through cybersurveillance, cyberwarefare and legislation aimed at wresting control away from the user multitude reared on access to information. Intensifying over the last decade, this enclosure movement has been met with fierce opposition from computer geeks dedicated to the hacker ethic. Beginning as a self-referential subculture, the internet liberation movement has become increasingly internetworked, global and political, embracing free software hackers, tech activists and open access evangelists who understand that information is inextricably linked to human freedom, justice, equality and progress. Building and deploying technologies of liberation, tech activists and hacker allies from Indymedia, Anonymous, the Arab Spring and #ows are bringing the full force of the internet to bear against those who would subvert its democratic potential. Librarians, as historic gatekeepers of information, are key collaborators in this struggle, and have an important role to play in the unlocking of information, and its free passage over the open web.

Session 1a: Inside the Black Box: Hacker culture, librarians and hardware Speaker: Fiacre O’Duinn
While librarians have traditionally been concerned with those freedoms revolving around access to content there has been little attention paid to the carrier, or the hardware, that makes access possible. This presentation will offer the approaches of hacker and maker culture as a means to deepen our conceptual understanding of hardware politics, looking at physical technology to engage with issues of liberation and justice.

Session 1b: Open Data is dead!  Long live Open Data! Speaker: MJ Suhonos
The philosophy and goals of Open Data are similar to those of other “Open” movements such as Open Source and Open Access.  In many ways, Open Data forms the foundation of larger movements such as Linked Data and the Semantic Web.  However, like any “Open” movement, questions of ownership, licensing, and Copyright are often used by those in opposition to prevent sharing and preserve their own interests.
In an increasingly competitive and litigious online environment, how can libraries continue the tradition of information sharing?  What technologies and tools can be used to increase access to library data?  What role can libraries play in using Open Data to contribute to endeavours such as the Semantic Web?

Session 2a: “Outside-In”. Speaker: Jutta Treviranus
Our economic, social and physical survival depends on diversity. Inequity and disparity of opportunity erodes our social cohesion, health and wealth.  However, we rarely design our systems and practices for diversity and inclusion.  The margins encompass us all. Our design should begin at the margins for a healthier, wealthier and wiser society.  This session will explore current disruptions brought about by global networks, pull markets, mass customization systems, cloud services and pervasive technologies that provide opportunities to support greater diversity and inclusion.

Session 2b: A TORid Affair: Librarians, Ethics & Liberation Technology. Speakers: Sarah Wiebe and Shelley Archibald
Get an introduction to TOR (The Onion Router) – an example of liberation technology. TOR can provide online anonymity, but how does it work? What does TOR  do? What does it not do?  We will answer these questions while also examining larger issues of why librarians should care, and how liberation technology fits into the history of the profession and its possible future.

Session 3: Encouraging Creativity or Diminishing Dialogue? A Critical Account of Digital Copyright in Canada. Speaker: Professor Carys Craig
The ownership and control of information resources is one of the most important forms of power in contemporary society. The ability to access, appropriate and disseminate a host of cultural, technological and social goods is enhanced in the digital realm, calling into question the traditional modes of practice and content controls addressed by intellectual property laws. Digital technologies provide us with the potential to alter and subvert power structures by changing the ways in which we access, engage with, and participate in the creation of these resources. By the same token, intellectual property laws have the capacity to shore up existing power structures and limit creative practices by entrenching conventional proprietary norms in digital environments. In particular, copyright laws restrict the flow of information, regulate the production and exchange of meaning, and shape social relations of communication.

With the emergence of the Internet as an unprecedented forum for the exercise of free expression and political mobilization, the regulation of this fundamentally democratic domain takes on enormous significance. There is simply no reason for us to assume that copyright laws should determine the most basic “rules of the game” in cyberspace. Indeed, their complexity, inaccessibility, and limited focus make them quite inapposite to the task. In a technological environment where works can be created, shared, accessed and transformed more easily and efficiently than ever before, the copyright system is increasingly employed to reinforce the norms of the analog world rather than to maximize the potential of the digital revolution. Private ownership, exclusion and pay-per-use practices obstruct the capacity of network technologies to create an accessible, democratic and vital space in which citizens can freely participate. As such, the way that we traditionally think about copyright and the role that it serves in our cultural and political landscape is in desperate need of re-imagination.