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Author David Weinberger to speak at university next month

Published: January 22, 2013, 2:55 pm ET
Collegian Staff

David Weinberger, an acclaimed author, technologist and internet researcher, will speak about the expanding internet industry and its impact on libraries at the University of Richmond next month.

The lecture, which will take place at the Jepson Alumni Center at 2 p.m. on Feb. 17, is hosted by the Friends of Boatwright Memorial Library and is part of its Edward C. and Mary S. Peple Library Lectureship series. The lecture is free, and no reservations are necessary.

“We were looking for someone who could speak to information’s future [...] somebody to talk to us about where libraries and authorship are generally going,” Kevin Butterfield, university librarian, said about why the Friends chose Weinberger. “I think that people will come away from it with [...] a hopeful vision of the information future, and not an apocalyptic one.”

Weinberger is a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School and the author of several books about the internet’s effect on the perception and use of data and knowledge.

His latest book, “Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That Facts Aren’t the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room is the Room,” won the getAbstract International Book of the Year award and a World Technology Award in 2012.

The internet has changed how people use knowledge to interact, bond and dissent, he said in a phone interview. “Thanks to the internet,” he said, “we have the opportunity to talk endlessly with people [with] whom we disagree.”

Almost any person can now more easily find and send a link to an opponent proving his or her argument, Weinberg said, instead of having to use letters and books. “It’s not simply disagreement; it’s linked disagreement.”

But, he said he felt positively about the changes, and said that humans were starting a new, networked era. “We are in a monumental reframing of what knowledge itself is, and I think overall that reframing is more accurate and more human,” he said. He predicted that humans would continue to disagree more efficiently and would always be able to find another issue to differ about.

“I think [the lecture] is an opportunity to hear from someone who is leading research in this area,” Butterfield said.

The Peples helped found the Friends of Boatwright Memorial Library in 1971 and created the Peple Lecture Series with a $10,000 endowment in 1989. According to its website description, it brings scholars annually to Richmond to speak on topics of interest to librarians and students.

Contact staff writer Ben Panko at ben.panko@richmond.edu

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