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VIRTUAL: Why Trust A Corporation to Do a Library’s Job?

April 28, 2021 @ 10:00 am - 12:00 pm PDT

Joanne McNeil, author of Lurking: How a Person Became a User explores our dependence on Google as the Internet’s Library. But is it?

A generation ago, when people had a question they would ask a librarian to look up the answer. Today, when users have a question, they Google it.In her 2020 book Lurking: How a Person Became a User, author Joanne McNeil examines our reliance on large, corporate platforms–in particular Google– to ingest and archive everything. While early internet services provided a sense of freedom and identity, we now trust search engines and social media to preserve our blogs, books, videos, and social media forever. But McNeil writes:

Google could replicate information on its own terms, and with no further commitment to maintaining data, any information erased or last could be interpreted as something the world itself was missing.

In this thought-provoking event, Why Trust a Corporation to Do a Library’s Job?, Joanne McNeil is joined by technologist/ artist, Darius Kazemi, as they examine how in the 1990’s and early aughts, people became users, and users put their trust in a corporation to do the job of a library.

What happens to library values such as privacy, preservation and enduring access to knowledge in the era of surveillance capitalism? Is Google the “internet’s library,” and if not, where should we turn for collections of knowledge at scale?

Presented by Library Futures & the Internet Archive, this discussion invites you to explore whether we’ve traded convenience for the protections that libraries have always offered: privacy, preservation, and equitable access to knowledge. And if so, where do we go from here?

Buy your copy of Lurking from usThe first 50 people to purchase McNeil’s book will receive an autographed copy & be invited to stay after the event to chat with the author.

About the book:

“A long-overdue people’s history of the internet. Joanne McNeil retells our last three decades online from the perspective of those who actually made it worthwhile—us.” – Claire L. Evans, author of Broad Band

One of Esquire’s Best Books to Elevate Your Reading List in 2020, and a OneZero Best Tech Book of 2020. Named one of the 100 Notable books of 2020 by the End of the World Review.

A concise but wide-ranging personal history of the internet from—for the first time—the point of view of the user.

About our speakers:

Joanne McNeil was the inaugural winner of the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation’s Arts Writing Award for an emerging writer. She has been a resident at Eyebeam, a Logan Nonfiction Program fellow, and an instructor at the School for Poetic Computation.

Darius Kazemi is an internet artist under the moniker Tiny Subversions. His best known works are the Random Shopper (a program that bought him random stuff from Amazon each month) and Content, Forever (a tool to generate rambling thinkpieces of arbitrary length). He has a small army of Twitter and Tumblr bots that he builds because they make him laugh. He founded NaNoGenMo, where participants spend a month writing algorithms to generate 50,000 word novels, and Bot Summit, a yearly gathering of people who make art bots. He cofounded Feel Train, a creative technology cooperative.


April 28, 2021
10:00 am - 12:00 pm PDT
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The Booksmith
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