Lecture to Focus on Technology, Language

Library of Congress, C-SPAN Coordinate on Continuing Digital Series

Posted February 11, 2005 at 3:32pm

The Library of Congress, in conjunction with C-SPAN, is set to present the next installment in a series of lectures on digital media titled “Managing Knowledge and Creativity in a Digital Context.”

The series, which began Nov. 15, seeks to educate the public on the digital age, and it features well-known experts in digitally networked communications. Each lecture is aired live on C-SPAN from the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress. All are free and open to the public. No reservations are required.

The next guest speaker is David Levy, professor at the Information School of the University of Washington, who will speak tonight about the shift of the experience of reading from the fixed page to movable electrons and the effect that it has on language.

Deanna Marcum, associate librarian for library services at the Library of Congress and Derrick de Kerckhove, holder of the Harrissios Papamarkou Chair in Education and Technology at the John W. Kluge Center, coordinated the series.

De Kerckhove wanted to organize an event that would explore the change that comes after moving from the page to the screen, or how the library staff and institution encounter digitization. The digital lecture series was created as an attempt to explore the new networks and the cutting edge of what is going on in the field of technology today.

“Each speaker brings out his own special audience,” de Kerckhove said.

When asked what kind of effect he believed the digital age would have on society and technology as we now know it, de Kerckhove responded, “It’s every bit as big as the Renaissance that followed the printing press.”

Marcum foresees a day in the not-so-distant future when a lot of the material that typically comes to her in paper form will come instead electronically.

With that, will the library, as we know it, become obsolete?

“I don’t think it will make libraries obsolete at all,” Marcum said. “The average life span of a Web site is 41 days, we think in terms of decades and centuries when we think of preserving information.

“The series is meant to help people look at their traditional roles in this new environment so we can continue to be relevant and useful in doing the job that has been entrusted,” she added.

The Library of Congress approached C-SPAN in the fall about broadcasting the lecture series on their network. “We have done other programming over the years with the Library of Congress, it’s one of the many organizations that we take our cameras to and cover events,” said Susan Swain, C-SPAN co-chief operating officer. C-SPAN took on the project of producing the series because it believed that the whole digital future is an enormous public policy issue, and the potential for educating the public on current issues was too great to pass up, she said.

Leta Hicks, producer at C-SPAN, took over the project to make sure it was produced well. “One of the measures that I can speak to is this whole idea where we’re being a little more interactive than we normally are,” she said in reference to the series’ live question and answer session, in which viewers may ask the presenters questions through e-mail. “They’re e-mailing … pertinent questions.

“We’re getting people interested, that’s one thing that I think we’re accomplishing,” Hicks said.

Upcoming guest speakers include Lawrence Lessig, professor at Stanford Law School, will be presenting a program entitled, “Taming the Regulation of Culture” on March 3. Edward Ayers, Dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia, will address implications for the creation and distribution of knowledge in today’s digital environment on March 14, in addition to many others.

The series runs through March, and each presentation can be viewed on C-SPAN from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Viewers can e-mail the experts at digital@loc.gov and have their questions answered on the air during the presentations.