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Athabasca University

Identity, Agency, and the Digital Nexus

April 5-7, 2013

“There really is a universe of self-reproducing digital code. When I last checked, it was growing by five trillion bits per second. And that's not just a metaphor for something else. It actually is. It's a physical reality.” George Dyson

“We walk the corridors, searching the shelves and rearranging them, looking for lines of meaning amid leagues of cacophony and incoherence, reading the history of the past and of the future, collecting our thoughts and collecting the thoughts of others, and every so often glimpsing mirrors, in which we may recognize creatures of the information.” Jorge Luis Borges

"Identity, Agency, and the Digital Nexus," is an international symposium organized by Athabasca University to be held in Edmonton, Alberta, on April 5-7, 2013. The symposium will focus on the transformations of contemporary global society resulting from the proliferation of digital communications technologies and felt influence in every sector of public and private life. The symposium will feature two plenary public lectures, both by Canada Research Chairs (Andrew Feenberg and David Gunkel) in the philosophy and theory of culture and technology. These lectures and the regular symposia presentations will be open to the public and will be widely advertised in the community throughout Alberta, as well as within its universities. While the principal audience for the symposium is scholars and practitioners in the areas of digital media, emphasis on the influence of digital media on personal, social, and political identity and agency will make the event of interest to scholars in a diversity of disciplines as well as a broad general audience. The symposium papers will appear in 2014 in a book edited by the symposium organizer, Raphael Foshay, Program Director of the host MA Program in Integrated Studies at Athabasca University. This edited volume will be published by Athabasca University Press, an open access publisher, whose volumes are published both in conventional book form and also freely for download (without charge) from its website.

The symposium participants are invited scholars from across Canada and internationally from the many disciplines challenged by the impact and implications of digital communications technology and digital networking: social and cultural theory; political science; sociology; media studies; philosophy. The advent of the internet and of multimedia communications, as presciently heralded by Marshall McLuhan, spells the end of the monopoly by print culture, displaced by multimedia forms of publication and communication. The power and rapidity of the rise of digital communications and the internet, accompanied by the globalization of communications and economies that it enables, is producing new conditions for personal identity, social and political organization, commercial transaction, and cultural and artistic expression. While digital networking and the internet present a new frontier, they also provide new conditions for the activity of powerful corporate, media, and governmental interests. These new conditions have changed the shape of public and personal space and the possibility for social, political, and economic agency. This symposium will explore strategies for understanding the implications and for mapping the territory of the unfolding condition of global digital network technology and its effects on public and civic life in the 21st century.

Updated July 10 2015 by Student & Academic Services

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