LaTurbo Avedon’s Hypertext Wishes

As part of the Internet Archive’s 25th Anniversary celebration we asked artist LaTurbo Avedon to contemplate what the year 2046 and the future of the internet might look like through the lens of their own art practice.

LaTurbo Avedon introduces the work Hypertext Wishes, inviting viewers to follow a virtual token as it passes into a contemplative well of the Internet. Avedon has spent the past decade developing a body of work that illuminates the ever-growing intensity between users and virtual experiences, pursuing creative environments that deepen the meaning of memories found in the metaverse. They curate and design Panther Modern, a file-based exhibition space that encourages artists to create site-specific installations for the Internet.

Here is a clip from Hypertext Wishes, available for viewing at Internet Archive Headquarters:

The imagery from Hypertext Wishes is made available on the Internet Archive here: https://archive.org/details/15_20211020_20211020_1907

LaTurbo Avedon is an avatar and artist, creating work that emphasizes the practice of non-physical identity and authorship. Their process of character creation continues through gaming, performance and exhibitions. Their work has appeared internationally, including  The Whitney Museum (New York City). The Manchester International Festival (UK), Transmediale (Berlin), Haus der elektronischen Künste (Basel), HMVK (Dortmund), Barbican Center (London), Galeries Lafayette (Paris), and TRANSFER Gallery (New York).

Celebrating Kanta Kapoor: 2021 Internet Archive Hero Award Recipient

Kanta Kapoor, manager of support services, Milton Public Library, Milton, Ontario.

Kanta Kapoor was the first in her family to go to a university. Growing up in New Delhi, she was determined to become an independent woman, and she knew education was the key to success.

“I understand the value of knowledge—to survive in this world, to make a living and make informed decisions,” said Kapoor, who excelled in school and worked at public and university libraries in India for several years before moving to Canada in 2012.

Kapoor developed an expertise in emerging technologies and became an advocate for open sharing of information. Now, she is manager of support services at the Milton Public Library (MPL) in Ontario. In that role, she helped MPL become an early adopter of the Internet Archive’s Open Libraries program, which offers digital access to the physical books that a library owns through the library practice known as controlled digital lending (CDL).

For her efforts to broaden access and embrace innovative practices, Kapoor has been named a recipient of the 2021 Internet Archive Hero Award. The annual award recognizes those who have exhibited leadership in making information available for digital learners all over the world. Past recipients have included Michelle Wu, Phillips Academy, the Biodiversity Heritage Library, and the Grateful Dead.

Kanta helping patrons at Milton Public Library.

In her career, Kapoor has focused on leveraging technology to improve services to the community. She has a master’s degree in library science and gained a specialty in open-source software and data management through additional graduate studies at the University of Toronto.

Kapoor said she was drawn to MPL in 2019 because the leadership team was forward thinking and there was an opportunity to expand community-led projects.

“We were challenged to think outside of the box and become champions throughout Canadian public libraries to stay ahead of the curve,” Kapoor said.  

“In my career, I’ve seen many changes—and it’s still evolving. We need to continue to adapt and embrace new technology.”

Kanta Kapoor, 2021 Internet Archive Hero Award recipient

In her newly created position, she helped improve services for patrons and library staff alike with new technology, mobile apps and digitization of materials. When she was introduced to the Open Libraries program, Kapoor said she was impressed by the ability to provide millions of digitized books to users across the world. MPL decided this was the direction it wanted to go and became one of the first public libraries in Canada to embrace CDL and embed a link to Open Libraries in its catalogue.

MPL’s Mark Williams, chief librarian and chief executive officer, credits Kapoor’s strong leadership skills in building the partnership with the Internet Archive, which helped the MPL community during the earliest days of COVID-19 closures.

“It meant we were able to provide our patrons with access to tens of thousands of digitized materials at a time when they were more welcome than ever, during the pandemic lockdowns, while also being able to donate over 40,000 items for the benefit of a truly global audience,” he said. “We are incredibly fortunate that Kanta is part of the MPL team and her  compassion, graciousness, humility and ultimately exemplary leadership have been put to good use.”

Milton Public Library, Milton, Ontario

MPL expanded its partnership by donating physical items to the Archive, obtained a state-of-the-art digitization scanner, and became involved with Library Futures, a coalition of libraries and other stakeholders championing equitable access to knowledge.

Kapoor has helped promote materials available through CDL on the library’s web page, newsletters, and social media. So far, the response by users has been positive and Kapoor is reaching across her professional networks to educate her colleagues about the potential benefits.

“I encourage my fellow librarians to participate in this wonderful project to help their communities out,” Kapoor said. “In my career, I’ve seen many changes—and it’s still evolving. We need to continue to adapt and embrace new technology. I would like to see more libraries joining hands together to serve the community.”

Celebrating Lisa Radha Weaver: 2021 Internet Archive Hero Award Recipient

Lisa Radha Weaver, director of collections and program development, Hamilton Public Library, Hamilton, Ontario.

As a child, Lisa Radha Weaver says she spent most Sunday afternoons at the Kitchener Public Library in Ontario. She has fond memories of the friendly library staff helping her load up as many books as she could carry home.

Then, as a college student at Trent and Queen’s Universities, Weaver again was struck by how kind and generous the people were behind the reference desk at the library. Finally, she asked: How do you get this job?

Weaver learned about the pathway to become a professional librarian. So, after finishing her undergraduate degree in education, she earned her master of library and information science at Western University in London, Ontario.

“I knew that I wanted to serve the public in the same way that I had always been served at all the libraries that I had the privilege of growing up with in the first half of my life,” said Weaver, now director of collections and program development at Hamilton Public Library (HPL) in Ontario.

But that public service role was tested in the spring of 2020 when HPL closed due to COVID-19, as she and her fellow library staff were left wondering how they were going to get books to members who were now locked out of their physical collection. Weaver had been instrumental in helping HPL become an early adopter of the Internet Archive’s Open Libraries program, which offers digital access to the physical books that a library owns. Because of the collections team’s hard work, HPL patrons had access to tens of thousands of books from the safety of their homes, and could continue to read and learn while the physical library remained closed.

Lisa Radha Weaver presents Hamilton Public Library’s 1-Millionth eBook user, Connie Vissers, with a special HPL tote bag prize on October 28, 2020 at the Terryberry Branch.

In recognition of her contributions in her 20-plus year career, and her foresight in leading HPL into new digital lending practices, Weaver has been named the recipient of the 2021 Internet Archive Hero Award. The annual award recognizes those who have exhibited leadership in making information available for digital learners all over the world. Past recipients have included Michelle Wu, Phillips Academy, the Biodiversity Heritage Library, and the Grateful Dead

Weaver has long been committed to broadening access to information. Not everyone is as lucky as she was to have an adult bring them to the library, she says. Others don’t live nearby or work hours that limit their ability to physically visit a branch. To serve the changing needs of users, she has embraced digitizing collections and innovative outreach. 

Weaver led efforts at HPL to become an early adopter of Controlled Digital Lending, as well as identify special collections to donate to the Internet Archives for digitization.  

“CDL means removing barriers to access to collections in a way that is sustainable, accessible and equitable. With one library card, users have access to THE library, not just your local branch, system, region, province, state or even country,” Weaver said. “CDL means great breadth and depth in collections access. No one library can have all the books. CDL helps all libraries work together to best support each member to find what they are looking for, when and where they are looking for it.”

“I just really believe the library should be there for everyone, where they are and when they need it.”

Lisa Radha Weaver, 2021 Internet Archive Hero Award Recipient

The timing of HPL’s embrace of CDL in the fall of 2019 was fortuitous. When the physical buildings had to close due to the pandemic in March 2020 for three months, the library was positioned to provide users with digital access to its collection through the Internet Archive.

“Our hearts were a little bit less heavy, knowing that at least that part of our collection continued to be accessible to people,” Weaver said. “We had positive feedback.”

HPL also beefed up its own virtual library collection and created a range of online programming. Weaver says it developed an online reference system so users could call, email or chat to get connected to the resources or collections, which was especially helpful to teachers and students. Staff also phoned older members of the library to just check in and some were thankful to learn about new ways to access the library online.

Weaver says her team at the library is fearless and collaborative in how they approach their work.

She credits support from her administration and green light from the library’s legal team with the success of the CDL at Hamilton. Management promotes the notion of a “freedom to fail card” to encourage risk-taking, which says she seized upon to embark on the practice. Also, the library got a legal option that it shared widely backing up the notion that it was well within the library’s right to participate. “Those two things really allowed us to step forward confidently with the Internet Archive in this project,” Weaver said.

Hamilton Public Library, Hamilton, Ontario.

Since 2019, Weaver has joined the call for wider acceptance of CDL. She has participated in several panel presentations with librarians to explain the details of CDL. She has also lobbied with others in Washington, D.C., making the case to lawmakers on Capitol Hill for policy that supports the practice. Weaver is known for her professionalism and thoughtfulness in promoting the benefit of CDL.

“The ‘c’ in CDL is controlled. One copy, one use,” Weaver said. “We already own these books. Why did we buy these books, if not, for the broader library community to access?  None of us are closing our libraries because we are running out of books, so doesn’t it make sense to share? Most people buy into that idea.”

Before joining HPL in 2018, Weaver was with the Toronto District School Board as manager of collections and extension services for 13 years. In that role, she coordinated operations with the largest library system in Canada and worked with diverse communities to expand digital access to learning materials for students. Weaver was honored by the Ontario School Library Association with the 2006 Mover and Shaker Award and the 2016 Award for Technical Service.

The motivation in all her work is simple: “I just really believe the library should be there for everyone, where they are and when they need it.”  

Olia Lialina gives good wishes with her artwork Perpetual Calendar

As part of the Internet Archive’s 25th Anniversary celebration we asked artist Olia Lialina to contemplate what the year 2046 and the future of the internet might look like through the lens of her own art practice.

Olia Lialina’s artwork Perpetual Calendar builds upon the rich digital folklore tradition to start a day on your social network by wishing each other a good one in the form of an image, often animated, and most likely glittering. With https://haveagood.today/ you can go to the future and the past, checking what day of the week were you born, or on what day of the week New Year eve 2071 is going to be. At the same time you can see it as a flipping through of her archived collection of the graphics that represent an important layer of vernacular web. In the beginning of the century the tradition to wish a good (nice, great, sexy,…) Monday (Tuesday, Humpday,…) with a self made or found graphic replaced “Welcome to My Home Page” greetings and relieved the ever growing urge for updates.

Views of the year 2046 on Perpetual Calendar by Olia Lialina
Perpetual Calendar by Olia Lialina

Olia Lialina (b. 1971, Moscow) is among the best-known participants in the net.art scene of the 1990s – an early-days, network-based art pioneer. Her early work had a great impact on recognizing the Internet as a medium for artistic expression and storytelling. This century, her continuous and close attention to Internet architecture, ‘net.language’ and Web vernacular – in both artistic and publishing projects – has made her an important voice in contemporary art and new media theory. Lialina is a co-author of Digital Folklore Reader and keeper of One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age archive (together with Dragan ESpenschied). She is an Animated GIF model and professor for Art and Design Online at Merz Akademie in Stuttgart, Germany.

DWeb Meetup September 2021 — Preserving Humanity’s Greatest Assets

The September 2021 DWeb Meetup explored the potential and reality of decentralized storage with two projects leading the way toward storing highly valuable cultural data at scale.

Watch the recording of the event and learn more about the speakers below.

The September 2021 DWeb meetup was held virtually on Tuesday, September 28, 2021 at 10am PT, optimized for American/European time zones. Wendy Hanamura welcomed attendees and kicked off the meetup. Brewster Kahle, the founder of the Internet Archive, set the stage for the discussion by emphasising the need for a more secure and decentralized web. The Meetup also broached the possibility of a DWeb camp in the Fall of 2022.

The discussion explained the differences between the IPFS and Filecoin systems, how they work together and delved into the two projects led by Arkadiy Kukarkin and Jonathan Dotan which are at the cutting edge of storing large scale data of high cultural significance in the Filecoin network. They discussed the challenges, successes, and future opportunities presented by these efforts.

Lastly, attendees welcomed Eseohe “Ese” Ojo, the new DWeb Projects Organizer and said farewell to Mai Ishikawa Sutton as she goes off to grad school in Japan. Mai will continue to stay connected with the DWeb community and can be reached on Twitter @maira. Ese can be reached at dweb@archive.org or on Twitter @EseoheOjo. The meetup wrapped up with socializing and networking in Gather.town. 

The next DWeb Meetup “DWeb Meetup Nov 2021 – Centering Respect, Trust and Equity in the DWeb” is scheduled for Thursday, November 4, 2021 at 5pm PT, optimized for Asia time zones. At this meetup, we will hear the latest in the DWeb and from our featured speaker Coraline Ada Ehmke on centering respect, trust, and equity in the DWeb. You can read Coraline’s blog post on the DWeb principle of Mutual Respect here

We’re interested in hearing from DWeb projects about the breakthroughs, challenges, and new roadmaps they might be exploring. For anyone interested in participating in lightning rounds at this meetup, let us know here.

Featured Speakers


		DWeb Meetup September 2021 — Preserving Humanity's Greatest Assets image

Image of Arkadiy Kukarkin (Twitter: @parkan)

Arkadiy Kukarkin, DWeb engineer for the Internet Archive. Arkadiy explained this nonprofit’s history with decentralization, from BitTorrent to today. He is leading a new project to explore how the Internet Archive could better decentralize its historical archives using Filecoin. He’s starting with End-of-Term data — all US government websites as they appear at the end and beginning of each Presidential Administration — starting with the 2016-2017 transition. At this talk, Arkadiy revealed his roadmap, lessons learned, and future direction.


		DWeb Meetup September 2021 — Preserving Humanity's Greatest Assets image

Image of Jonathan Dotan 

Jonathan Dotan, Founder of the Starling Lab, the first major research lab devoted to Web3 technologies. It is affiliated with Stanford and USC. Jonathan returned to the DWeb Meetup to bring us up-to-date on the USC Shoah Foundation Project, which preserves testimony of survivors of genocide on decentralized storage at huge scale. How does the process work and how do we keep these precious artifacts safe.

Visit GetDWeb.net to learn more about the decentralized web. You can also follow us on Twitter at @GetDWeb for ongoing updates.

Internet Archive Releases Refcat, the IA Scholar Index of over 1.3 Billion Scholarly Citations

As part of our ongoing efforts to archive and provide perpetual access to at-risk, open-access scholarship, we have released Refcat (“reference” + “catalog”), the citation index culled from the catalog that underpins our IA Scholar service for discovering the scholarly literature and research outputs within Internet Archive. This first release of the Refcat dataset contains over 1.3 billion citations extracted from over 60 million metadata records and over 120 million scholarly artifacts (articles, books, datasets, proceedings, code, etc) that IA Scholar has archived through web harvesting, digitization, integrations with other open knowledge services, and through partnerships and joint initiatives.

Refcat represents one of the larger citation graph datasets of scholarly literature, as well as uniquely containing a notable portion of citations from works that do not have a DOI or persistent identifier. We hope this dataset will be a valuable community resource alongside other critical knowledge graph projects, including those with which we are collaborating, such as OpenCitations and Wikicite

The Refcat dataset is released under a CC0 license and is available for download from archive.org. The related software created for the extraction and matching process, including exact and fuzzy citation matching (refcat and fuzzycat), are also released as open-source tools. For those interested in technical details about the project, a white paper is available on arxiv.org authored by IA engineers, including Martin Czygan, who led work on Refcat, and is described in our catalog user guide.

What does Refcat mean for regular users of IA Scholar? Refcat results from work to ensure the interconnection between material within IA Scholar and other resources archived in Internet Archive in order to make browsing and lookups easier and to ensure overall citation integrity and persistence. For example, there are over 25 million web links in the citations in Refcat and we were able to match ~14 million of these to archived web pages in Wayback Machine and also found that ~18% of these matched web citations are no longer available on the live web. Web links in citations not in Wayback Machine have been added to ongoing web harvests. We also matched over 20 million citations to books that are available for lending in our Open Library service and matched over 1 million citations to Wikipedia entries. 

Besides interconnection, Refcat will allow users to understand what works have cited a specific scholarly resource (i.e. “cited by” or “inbound citations”) that will help with improved discovery features. Finally, knowing the full “knowledge graph” of IA Scholar helps us better identify important scholarly material that we have not yet archived, thus improving the overall quality and extent of the collection. This, in turn, aids scholars by ensuring their open-access work is archived and accessible forever, especially for those whose publisher may not have the resources for long-term preservation, and it ensures that related outputs like research registrations or datasets are also archived, matched to the article of record, and available into the future.

The Refcat release is a milestone of Phase Two of our project, “Ensuring the Persistent Access of Long Tail Open Access Journal Literature,” first announced in 2018 and supported by funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Current work focuses on citation integrity within the IA Scholar archive, partnerships and services, such as our role in the multi-institutional Project Jasper and our partnership with Center for Open Science, and the addition of secondary scholarly outputs to IA Scholar, including datasets, software, and other non-article/book scholarly materials. Lookout for a plethora of announcements about other IA Scholar milestones in the coming months!

The Internet Archive’s Community Webs Program Welcomes 60+ New Members from the US, Canada and Internationally

Community Webs, the Internet Archive’s community history web and digital archiving program, is welcoming over 60 new members from across the US, Canada, and internationally. This new cohort is the first expansion of the Community Webs program outside of the United States and we are thrilled to be supporting the development of diverse, community-based web collections on an international scale. 

Community Webs empowers cultural heritage organizations to collaborate with their communities to build web and digital archives of primary sources documenting local history and culture, especially collections inclusive of voices typically underrepresented in traditional memory collections. The program achieves this mission by providing its members with free access to the Archive-It web archiving service, digital preservation and digitization services, and technical support and training in topics such as web archiving, community outreach, and digital preservation. The program also offers resources to support a local history archiving community of practice and to facilitate scholarly research.

New Community Webs member Karen Ng, Archivist at Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation), BC, Canada, notes that the program offers a way to capture community-generated online content in a context where many of the Nation’s records are held by other institutions. “The Squamish Nation community is active in creating and documenting language, traditional knowledge, and histories. Now more than ever in the digital age, it is imperative that these stories and histories be captured and stored in accessible ways for future generations.” 

Similarly, for Maryna Chernyavska, Archivist at the Kule Folklore Centre in Edmonton, Canada, the program will allow the Centre to continue building relationships with community members and organizations. “Being able to assist local heritage organizations with web archiving will help us empower these communities to preserve their heritage based on their values and priorities, but also according to professional standards.”

The current expansion of the program was made possible in part by generous funding from the Andrew Mellon Foundation, which supports the growth of Community Webs to new public libraries in the US. Additional funding provided by the Internet Archive allows the program to reach cultural heritage organizations in Canada and beyond. This newest cohort brings the total number of participants in Community Webs to over 150 organizations, a ten-fold increase since the program’s inception in 2017. For a full list of new participants, see below. The program continues to add members – if your institution is interested in joining, please view our open calls for applications and please make your favorite local memory organization aware of the opportunity.

Programming for the new cohort is underway and these members are already diving into the program’s educational resources and familiarizing themselves with the technical aspects of web archiving and digital preservation. We kicked things off recently with introductory Zoom sessions, where participants met one another and shared their organizations’ missions, communities served and goals for membership in the program. Online training modules, developed by staff at the Internet Archive and the Educopia Institute, went live for new members at the beginning of September. And our new cohort joined our existing Community Webs partners at our virtual Partner Meeting on September 22nd. 

We are thrilled to see the program continuing to grow and we look forward to working with our newest cohort. A warm welcome to the following new Community Webs members!

Canada:

  • Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute
  • Age of Sail Museum and Archives
  • Ajax Public Library
  • Blue Mountains Public Library – Craigleith Heritage Depot
  • Canadian Friends Historical Association
  • Charlotte County Archives
  • City of Kawartha Lakes Public Library
  • Community Archives of Belleville and Hastings County
  • Confluence Concerts | Toronto Performing Arts Archives
  • Edson and District Historical Society – Galloway Station Museum & Archives
  • Essex-Kent Mennonite Historical Association
  • Ex Libris Association
  • Fishing Lake Métis Settlement Public Library
  • Frog Lake First Nations Library
  • Goulbourn Museum
  • Grimsby Public Library
  • Hamilton Public Library
  • Kule Folklore Centre
  • Maskwacis Cultural College
  • Meaford Museum
  • Milton Public Library
  • Mission Folk Music Festival
  • Nipissing Nation Kendaaswin
  • North Lanark Regional Museum
  • Northern Ontario Railroad Museum and Heritage Centre
  • Parkwood National Historic Site
  • Regina Public Library
  • Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) Archives
  • Société historique du Madawaska Inc.
  • St. Clair West Oral History Project
  • Temagami First Nation Public Library
  • The ArQuives: Canada’s LGBTQ2+ Archives
  • The Historical Society of Ottawa
  • Thunder Bay Museum
  • Tk’emlups te Secwepemc

International:

  • Biblioteca Nacional Aruba
  • Institute of Information Science, Academia Sinica (Taiwan)
  • Mbube Cultural Preservation Foundation (Nigeria)
  • National Library and Information System Authority (NALIS) (Republic of Trinidad and Tobago)

United States:

  • Abilene Public Library
  • Ashland City Library
  • Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History
  • Charlotte County Libraries & History
  • Choctaw Cultural Center
  • Cultura Local ABI
  • DC History Center
  • Forsyth County Public Library
  • Fort Worth Public Library
  • Inuit Circumpolar Council – Alaska
  • Menominee Tribal Archives
  • Mineral Point Library Archives
  • Obama Hawaiian Africana Museum
  • Scott County Library System
  • South Sioux City Public Library
  • St. Louis Media History Foundation
  • Tacoma Public Library
  • The History Project
  • The Seattle Public Library
  • Tipp City Public Library
  • University of Hawaiʻi – West Oʻahu
  • Wilmington Public Library District

Congrats to these new partners! We are excited to have you on board.

Librarians Kanta Kapoor and Lisa Radha Weaver to Receive 2021 Internet Archive Hero Award

Announced today at the Library Leaders Forum, librarians Kanta Kapoor (Manager, Support Services, Milton Public Library) and Lisa Radha Weaver (Director, Collections and Program Development, Hamilton Public Library) will each receive this year’s Internet Archive Hero Award for helping their communities stay connected to digital books during the pandemic. They will be presented their awards at next week’s Library Leaders Forum session—register now.

The Internet Archive Hero Award is an annual award that recognizes those who have exhibited leadership in making information available for digital learners all over the world. Previous recipients have included librarian and professor of law Michelle Wu, Phillips Academy, the Biodiversity Heritage Library, and the Grateful Dead.

This year, we were looking for libraries and librarians who rose to the challenge—this was the year that libraries and librarians have been needed like never before. We wanted to acknowledge the hard work of people who went above and beyond to meet the needs of their communities.

Kanta and Lisa both exemplify the spirit of an Internet Archive Hero:

  • They helped both of their organizations become early adopters of Controlled Digital Lending in 2019. Of course no one knew it at the time, but that early move helped their patrons stay connected to resources throughout library closures of 2020 and 2021 by already having tens of thousands of digitized books available through each library’s participation in the Internet Archive’s Open Libraries program.
  • They donated collections to the Internet Archive that no longer fit their library’s local collection development priorities, so that we could preserve and digitize the books, and make them available to digital learners everywhere. You can learn more about the theater books donated from Hamilton Public Library and the 30,000 books donated by Milton Public Library.
  • They were resources to their professional networks, acting as a point of reference for other librarians interested in learning more about Controlled Digital Lending.
  • They thought broadly about access to collections, considering not only, “What helps my local community?” but also, “What helps the global community?”

In addition to their shared achievements, they also brought their individual strengths to their work:

Kanta’s persistent, steady, and polite pushes—whether about donations logistics, joining Open Libraries, or offering suggestions to expand the program—are what it takes to make things happen. Kanta’s gracious and humble nature belie her steely resolve and approach to program advancement: Kanta just kept at it, politely, until she got the results that she thought was right for her library and her community.

Lisa has joined discussions about Controlled Digital Lending since 2019, participating in several panel presentations for librarians and even participating in discussions with US lawmakers and policy experts alongside ALA Annual in Washington, D.C. Lisa’s professionalism and thoughtfulness helped librarians new to the practice of Controlled Digital Lending understand how their library could benefit.

Celebrate

Join with us in celebrating Kanta and Lisa at next week’s Library Leaders Forum. Registration is free for the virtual event.

Library Leaders Forum
October 20 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET – Register now

Interview with Our New DWeb Projects Organizer, Eseohe “Ese” Ojo

Woman on the left hand side of the image wearing her hair in a wrap and a pair of large hoop earrings. On the right side it reads "Hey DWeb community, say hello to Ese!"

Let’s welcome Eseohe “Ese” Ojo to the Decentralized Web community! We’re thrilled to have Ese (pronounced “essay”, she/her) as the new DWeb Projects Organizer. She will be working to foster dialogue and build networks among those building a web that is more private, reliable, secure and open. She will also help steward the DWeb website as a resource hub for readings, guides, and events related to the Decentralized Web.

We did a short interview with Ese, where we asked her about her professional background, her thoughts on the connections between digital rights, human rights, and the environment, as well as what it is about the DWeb space that brings her hope.  

Mai: Can you first tell us about your professional background and what you’ve been working on more recently?

Ese: I have a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and in May 2020, graduated with a master’s degree in Public Policy and Global Affairs as an African Leader of Tomorrow Scholar from the University of British Columbia. During my undergraduate studies in Nigeria, I took a combination of Law and International Relations courses and developed an interest in human rights and international law. I began working in the non-profit sector after graduation on a range of issues including digital rights, freedom of expression, access to information, academic freedom, gender, democracy, good governance and open government. 

Most recently, I have worked on the Democratic Health Communications during COVID-19, the Global Platform Governance Network at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), the Every Day Advocates and 100 Debates at GreenPAC before joining the DWeb team.

Mai: Given your background in human rights and digital policy, as well as with your current work in climate organizing, how do you think these issues are intersected?

Ese: I think these are all interconnected. I began working on environmental issues having worked on other human rights issues previously because I realised and agreed with the assertion that a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment is integral to the full enjoyment of other fundamental rights and freedoms. 

When it comes to digital rights and right now, as I’m learning more about the decentralised web, I see a lot of parallels. I believe that the original vision for the web and the vision for the decentralized web is meant to be inclusive, private, reliable, secure, and open. It is often said and reaffirmed that “the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online.”  Achieving all of this requires that special attention is paid to what harms we see offline are being reproduced online and even beyond this, what new ones are being created by these spaces. We can only achieve this if everyone in the community is committed to doing their part in small and big ways to create, protect, and defend the world and the web we want. 

Mai: What aspects of the decentralized web bring you hope? Are there specific projects or examples that come to mind that demonstrate to you how decentralized technologies can better secure our human rights both online and offline?

The potential for peer-to-peer relationships and control by many rather than a select few holds a lot of promise. I am hopeful that this will bring about alternative solutions to the problems we face now and mean greater, more meaningful access for many. I also hope that this community can learn from the mistakes already made as we work together to build something better — not just in comparison to what already exists but looking beyond to fill some of the gaps too. I am still exploring projects and examples of decentralized technologies and look forward to learning more about them.

Mai: Let me ask you a final, less serious question then! What do you like to do for fun, online and offline?

If my head isn’t buried in a book, I can typically be found rewatching Downton Abbey or Pride and Prejudice. On a rare sunny Vancouver day, I enjoy soaking up some sun at the beach, park, or sea wall.

Internet Archive Canada Responds to Canada’s Wide-Ranging Online Harms Proposal

It is an unfortunate truth that libraries have long been called upon to censor or destroy knowledge—a topic we recently explored with Richard Ovenden, author of Burning the Books: A History of the Deliberate Destruction of Knowledge. Indeed, Richard Ovenden has argued that, by standing against such attempts, libraries perform an essential function in support of democracy, the rule of law, and an open society. In the circumstances, it should be no surprise that libraries and librarians tend to react with some alarm to legislative proposals to censor or destroy information—no matter how well intentioned they may be.

So it was with some alarm that Internet Archive Canada reviewed the Government of Canada’s latest proposals to address “online harms.” As EFF and others have noted, policymakers around the world are exploring a range of options—many of them “dangerously misguided”—to address harmful online expression. Canada’s proposal appears to be the latest in this line. As Professor Michael Geist has explained, the Government’s plans:

“include the creation of a bureaucratic super-structure featuring a new Digital Safety Commission, a digital tribunal to rule on content removal, and a social media regulation advisory board. . . . [and also] envisions a myriad of takedown requirements, content filtering, complaints mechanisms, and even website blocking”

Internet Archive Canada expressed some of its own concerns with the online harms proposal in a submission to the government last week. Our friends at Open Media, and many others, did the same. Like Open Media, we are hoping for the best, while standing ready to engage further should legislation on the issue emerge. We hope all concerned Canadians will do the same.