2007 Symposium Summary Part 2

The third panel at Frontiers of New Media 2007 was loosely grouped under the title of “Identities,” but by this point in the day the ideas flying around had pretty clearly escaped the boxes the original program laid out for them. You can hear or download the audio of the session here (1h 31 min; 83 MB MP3).

Leslie Berlin is the Project Historian for the Silicon Valley Archives at Stanford and author of The Man Behind the Microchip: Robert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon Valley. Leslie responded to our hosts’ request to talk about the frontier as a concept more seriously than any other guest, I think, and gave a great talk (it begins at minute 3:00) that examined the history of Silicon Valley–real and perceived–through the lens of both Frederick Jackson Turner’s Frontier Thesis and Joseph Schumpeter’s ideas of creative destruction.

Greg Downey is the newly appointed Director of the School of  Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  I plugged his terrific book, Telegraph Messenger Boys: Labor, Technology, and Geography, in my talk. He’s also the author of Closed Captioning: Subtitling, Stenography, and the Digital Convergence of Text with Television. The two books are united by Greg’s insistence on studying, and honoring, the human labor that remains part of any information system, no matter how hidden, and this was also a theme of Greg’s talk (begins at 20:00), which took us from the “Push Button Library” at the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair to the inescapable question of metadata and the labor needed to produce it.

Anna Everett chairs the department of film studies at UC-Santa Barbara and is the author or editor of multiple books on the intersections of film, television, new media, and race.  Her talk (begins at 55:00) was entitled “The Viral Civil Rights Movement: Race, Space, and Place in Digital Media.” She vigorously challenged challenged ideas of the “digital divide” that paint people of African descent as resistant to technological advances, and offered an optimistic complement to Tara McPherson’s talk earlier in the day.