Tag Archives: book talk

Book Talk: Internet for the People

Join Internet Archive’s senior policy counsel LILA BAILEY in conversation with author BEN TARNOFF about his book, INTERNET FOR THE PEOPLE: THE FIGHT FOR OUR DIGITAL FUTURE.

JANUARY 12 @ 6PM PT
THIS EVENT WILL BE HELD IN-PERSON AT THE INTERNET ARCHIVE, 300 FUNSTON AVE, SAN FRANCISCO. THE DISCUSSION WILL BE RECORDED.

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Why is the internet so broken, and what could ever possibly fix it? The internet is broken, Tarnoff argues, because it is owned by private firms and run for profit. Google annihilates your privacy and Facebook amplifies right-wing propaganda because it is profitable to do so. But the internet wasn’t always like this—it had to be remade for the purposes of profit maximization, through a years-long process of privatization that turned a small research network into a powerhouse of global capitalism. Tarnoff tells the story of the privatization that made the modern internet, and which set in motion the crises that consume it today.

SESSION RECORDING

If you can’t make it to our in-person event, the discussion will be recorded and available for viewing the next day. To receive a notification when the recording is available, select the “Watch Recording” free ticket at registration.

Book Talk: Internet for the People
IN-PERSON AT THE INTERNET ARCHIVE
January 12, 2023 @ 6pm PT
Register now for the free, in-person event

Recap: Data Cartels Book Talk

Sarah Lamdan was working as an academic law librarian at the City University of New York in 2017 when something concerning caught her eye. 

“I was really startled and confused because I didn’t understand how Lexis and Westlaw would be doing ICE surveillance,” said Lamdan, who wondered about the potential impact on the campus’ immigrant population and her role as a librarian in giving away data.

Lamdan and a colleague wrote a blog for the American Association of Law Libraries raising questions. However, within minutes, at the “advice of legal counsel,” the post was removed, Lamden said. She didn’t know why they were not allowed to raise the issue, and her quest for answers began.

“It made me really, really curious,” Lamdan said. “That started this five-year course of research to unpack what these companies really are, what they’re doing, how they can be the main legal information providers and also be building surveillance systems.”

She shares her findings in “Data Cartels: The Companies that Control and Monopolize Our Information” published in November by Stanford University Press. Lamdan talked about her book with SPARC Executive Director Heather Joseph at an online webinar November 30 sponsored by the Internet Archive and the Authors Alliance. [Recording available here

Watch Session Recording

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was building an invasive data surveillance system and journalists reported that Thomson Reuters and LexisNexis were interested in participating. She quickly realized that those were the parent companies of the gold-standard legal databases, Westlaw and Lexis, that Lamdan regularly taught students to use.

The book chronicles the unregulated underworld of a few companies that operate as “data cartels,” highlighting how selling data and informational resources perpetuate social inequalities and threaten the democratic sharing of knowledge.

In her research, Lamdan, who has a law degree and master’s in library science, said she was surprised to discover the scope of the enterprises and ways they leveraged users’ personal data without consent. 

“I saw Lexis and Westlaw as these little mom-and-pop legal information expert shops that gave us tote bags and helped sponsor our annual meeting,” Lamdan said. “I didn’t realize that they are actually parts of these multi-billion-dollar giant corporations that are basically like informational warehouses.”

The library community has been increasingly concerned about companies’ commoditization of research, said Joseph, and the book spells about the trend with a sense of urgency.

“We think of these companies as content providers, but they’re more than that,” Joseph said. “They have a multiplicity of companies that have different functions under the umbrella company name and what those divisions do is critically important. For example, having one company essentially, owning the legal corpus of the United States and then controlling the data of people who access that information and distributing it is unbelievable.”

Purchase from the publisher, Stanford University Press

Too often, people view legal or academic publishers as benign distributors of useful information, Joseph said, but it is big business driven by profit. Companies are increasingly seeing opportunities to expand their services and become data analytic brokers. With so much information in the hands of so few players, these companies have a stronghold over predictive platforms affecting people’s privacy, health and finances. 

Information is a unique commodity, Lamdan said, because one information product cannot be replaced with another similar product. Libraries can’t merely unsubscribe to these services or journals because students and attorneys rely on the unique informational products they provide. This has created a classic monopoly problem where consumers have little choice about which products they use, which Lamdan said should be addressed.

“Together, these companies are pivoting from publishing, towards data analytics. They are changing the way our information systems work and the way their markets work,” Lamdan said in the online talk. “They are acting in a way that drives us from information access to these closed walled garden data analytics systems that exploit our personal data and limit access to certain types of information.”

Lamdan is clear that there is no one fix to address the concentration of power in these information companies. She does, however, suggest that federal antitrust laws be revisited and revised to better address digital and data problems. Regulators could intervene to say that companies should not be allowed to be in both the business of providing critically important information to the public, and the business of selling personal data products to the government simultaneously.

Joseph said the broader community can break its dependency on these companies by expanding open access and creating an infrastructure that does not rely on commercial enterprises for information. Approaching knowledge as a public good, rather than a private commodity, can also shift the framework for how information is disseminated.

To find out more about Lamdan’s book or to purchase a copy, click here.

JUST ADDED: Three new events to close out 2022

We’ve just finished scheduling three new events through the end of the year that you won’t want to miss! All events are virtual, free and open to the public.

Can’t make one of the sessions? Go ahead and register so that you’ll receive an e-mail with the session recording.

November 30

Join HEATHER JOSEPH, executive director of SPARC, for a chat with DATA CARTELS author SARAH LAMDAN about the companies that control & monopolize our information.

REGISTER NOW: DATA CARTELS

In our digital world, data is power. Information hoarding businesses reign supreme, using intimidation, aggression, and force to maintain influence and control. SARAH LAMDAN brings us into the unregulated underworld of these “data cartels”, demonstrating how the entities mining, commodifying, and selling our data and informational resources perpetuate social inequalities and threaten the democratic sharing of knowledge.

This event is co-sponsored with Authors Alliance.


December 8

What do libraries have to do with building a better internet? How would securing certain digital rights for these traditional public interest institutions help make the internet work better for everyone? 

REGISTER NOW: POLICIES FOR A BETTER INTERNET

Join Public Knowledge President CHRIS LEWIS as he facilitates a conversation on these issues and the emerging Movement for a Better Internet with library and internet policy experts LILA BAILEY (Internet Archive), KATHERINE KLOSEK (Association of Research Libraries) and BRIGITTE VÉZINA (Creative Commons).

They will discuss Internet Archive’s forthcoming report “Securing Digital Rights for Libraries: Towards an Affirmative Policy Agenda for a Better Internet” along with ongoing copyright reform projects from Creative Commons and ARL.

This event is co-sponsored with the Movement for a Better Internet.


December 15

Join copyright scholar PAMELA SAMUELSON for a discussion with historian PETER BALDWIN about THE COPYRIGHT WARS, covering three centuries’ worth of trans-Atlantic copyright battles. 

Today’s copyright wars can seem unprecedented. Sparked by the digital revolution that has made copyright—and its violation—a part of everyday life, fights over intellectual property have pitted creators, Hollywood, and governments against consumers, pirates, Silicon Valley, and open-access advocates. But while the digital generation can be forgiven for thinking the dispute between, for example, the publishing industry and libraries is completely new, the copyright wars in fact stretch back three centuries—and their history is essential to understanding today’s battles. THE COPYRIGHT WARS—the first major trans-Atlantic history of copyright from its origins to today—tells this important story.

This event is co-sponsored with Authors Alliance.

Author Talk: Peter Baldwin, The Copyright Wars

Join copyright scholar PAMELA SAMUELSON for a discussion with historian PETER BALDWIN about THE COPYRIGHT WARS, covering three centuries’ worth of trans-Atlantic copyright battles. 

Watch recording:

Today’s copyright wars can seem unprecedented. Sparked by the digital revolution that has made copyright—and its violation—a part of everyday life, fights over intellectual property have pitted creators, Hollywood, and governments against consumers, pirates, Silicon Valley, and open-access advocates. But while the digital generation can be forgiven for thinking the dispute between, for example, the publishing industry and libraries is completely new, the copyright wars in fact stretch back three centuries—and their history is essential to understanding today’s battles. THE COPYRIGHT WARS—the first major trans-Atlantic history of copyright from its origins to today—tells this important story.

THE COPYRIGHT WARS is available to read or download from the Internet Archive, as designated by the author. You can also purchase the book in print from Princeton University Press, or your local bookshop.

This event is co-sponsored with Authors Alliance.

Author Talk: Peter Baldwin, The Copyright Wars
Thursday, December 15 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET
Watch recording of the virtual event.

Editorial note: Updated 12/16/2023 with event video link.

Book Talk: Data Cartels

Join SPARC’s Heather Joseph for a chat with author Sarah Lamdan about the companies that control & monopolize our information.

Watch the session recording:

Purchase Data Cartels from The Booksmith

In our digital world, data is power. Information hoarding businesses reign supreme, using intimidation, aggression, and force to maintain influence and control. Sarah Lamdan brings us into the unregulated underworld of these “data cartels”, demonstrating how the entities mining, commodifying, and selling our data and informational resources perpetuate social inequalities and threaten the democratic sharing of knowledge.

About the speakers

Sarah Lamdan is Professor of Law at the City University of New York School of Law. She also serves as a Senior Fellow for the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, a Fellow at NYU School of Law’s Engelberg Center on Innovation Law and Policy.

Heather Joseph is a longtime advocate and strategist in the movement for open access to knowledge. She is the Executive Director of SPARC, an international alliance of libraries committed to creating a more open and equitable ecosystem for research and education. She leads SPARCs policy efforts, which have produced national laws and executive actions supporting the free and open sharing of research articles, data and textbooks, and has worked on international efforts to promote open access with organizations including the United Nations,, The World Bank, UNESCO, and the World Health Organization.

Book Talk: Data Cartels with Sarah Lamdan & Heather Joseph
Co-sponsored by Internet Archive & Authors Alliance
Wednesday, November 30 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET
Watch the virtual discussion.

Editorial note: Updated 11/30/22 to include embedded video & remove registration links.

Book Talk: Walled Culture

Join journalist and editor Maria Bustillos in conversation with author Glyn Moody for a discussion about copyright, digital rights and the 21st-century walls blocking access to culture.

Book Talk: Walled Culture with Glyn Moody & Maria Bustillos
Co-sponsored by Internet Archive & Authors Alliance
Thursday, November 10 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET
Watch the virtual discussion.

Watch the session recording:

While Ed Sheeran and Dua Lipa get sued for alleged plagiarism and the majority of creators see pennies for their hard work, record labels continue to explode. Libraries struggle to make ebooks accessible while being sued by an increasingly powerful book industry. In his book WALLED CULTURE (download for free or purchase in print), Glyn Moody explores how the transition from the physical to digital world has locked up access to culture and knowledge through copyright walls – specifically, outdated laws designed for the traditional, analogue world. 

WALLED CULTURE is the first book providing a compact, non-technical history of digital copyright and its problems over the last 30 years, and the social, economic and technological implications.

Steering our conversation will be Maria Bustillos, writer and editor of the Brick House Cooperative. Bustillos is a passionate advocate for equitable access to information, and has written extensively about issues relating to ebooks, publishing, and digital ownership.

Maria Bustillos is a journalist and critic whose work has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Guardian, the Los Angeles Times, Harper’s, the Times Literary Supplement, ESPN, Bloomberg, VICE, Gawker, The Awl, and elsewhere. She writes the public editor column for MSNBC at the Columbia Journalism Review.

Glyn Moody is a technology writer and published journalist who has been writing about the digital world for 40 years, the internet for nearly 30, and copyright for 20. He is best known for his book, Rebel Code: Linus and the Open Source Revolution (2001). He is also the author of Digital Code of Life: How Bioinformatics is Revolutionizing Science, Medicine, and Business (2004). His weekly column, “Getting Wired”, was the first regular column about the business use of the internet, and ran 400 total articles between 1994 through 2001. More recently, he has written nearly 2,000 articles for the leading tech policy site Techdirt.

Book Talk: Walled Culture with Glyn Moody & Maria Bustillos
Co-sponsored by Internet Archive & Authors Alliance
Thursday, November 10 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET
Watch the virtual discussion.

UPDATED Nov 11, 2022 to include session recording.

Book Talk: MEME WARS

The Untold Story of the Online Battles Upending Democracy in America

Join Amelia Acker in conversation with authors Joan Donovan and Emily Dreyfuss about their new book, MEME WARS, in-person at the Internet Archive, October 14 @ 6pm.

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Purchase your copy of MEME WARS from The Booksmith.

Memes have long been dismissed as inside jokes with no political importance. Nothing could be further from the truth. Memes are bedrock to the strategy of conspiracists such as Alex Jones, provocateurs like Milo Yiannopoulos, white nationalists like Nick Fuentes, and tacticians like Roger Stone. While the media and most politicians struggle to harness the organizing power of the internet, the “redpill right” weaponizes memes, pushing conspiracy theories and disinformation into the mainstream to drag people down the rabbit hole. These meme wars stir strong emotions, deepen partisanship, and get people off their keyboards and into the streets–and the steps of the US Capitol.

MEME WARS is the first major account of how “Stop the Steal” went from online to real life, from the wires to the weeds. Leading media expert Joan Donovan, PhD, veteran tech journalist Emily Dreyfuss, and cultural ethnographer Brian Friedberg pull back the curtain on the digital war rooms in which a vast collection of anti-establishmentarians bond over hatred of liberal government and media. Together as a motley reactionary army, they use memes and social media to seek out new recruits, spread ideologies, and remake America according to their desires.

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Book Talk: MEME WARS
October 14 @ 6:00pm PT
IN-PERSON at Internet Archive, 300 Funston Avenue, San Francisco
Register now for the in-person event

September Book Talk: The History of the Computer, Sep 15 (virtual)

“A beautifully illustrated journey through the history of computing, from the Antikythera mechanism to the iPhone and beyond—I loved it.”—Eben Upton, Founder and CEO of Raspberry Pi

From notched bones in the ancient world to self-driving cars powered by modern AI, for centuries humans have used computing systems to solve problems & enhance the way we live. But who are the people and stories behind these advancements? In THE HISTORY OF THE COMPUTER, author and illustrator Rachel Ignotofsky presents a fun-filled & beautifully illustrated journey through computing history, checking in on the notable personalities, organizations & technologies that have changed our world.

Watch now:

In our virtual event on September 15 @ 10am PT, Rachel will be joined by Alexis Rossi, Internet Archive’s director of media & access, and Jason Scott, free range archivist, for a discussion of the people, the inventions, the passions, and the controversies that have defined the history of the computer and its role in our daily lives.

Purchase your copy of The History of the Computer from The Booksmith, our local bookstore in the historic Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, or your own local bookshop.

Looking for educational resources? Rachel has made all sorts of resources, including a coloring worksheet, available for use.

September Book Talk: The History of the Computer
Author & illustrator Rachel Ignotofsky in conversation with Alexis Rossi & Jason Scott from the Internet Archive.
September 15 @ 10am PT
Watch the recording from the virtual event

EDITORIAL NOTE: Updated 9/15/22 to remove registration links & include links to view the video.

Book Talk: Surveillance State, Sep 14 (in-person)

“Josh Chin and Liza Lin have given us a truly groundbreaking investigation of China’s embrace of digital surveillance. The global scope and deep detail of their account retires the notion of an ‘all-seeing’ surveillance as some future scenario; it is happening already. They will open your eyes to the astonishing intersection of data, politics, and the human body. Anyone who cares about the future of technology, of China, or of free will cannot afford to miss this.”
—Evan Osnos, The New Yorker

Join authors Josh Chin & Liza Lin for an in-person discussion on life in China’s burgeoning surveillance state. They will be joined in conversation by Xiao Qiang (Berkeley).
September 14 @ Internet Archive, 300 Funston Avenue, San Francisco
Doors open at 6:30pm, discussion starts at 7pm.

People living in democracies have for decades drawn comfort from the notion that their form of government, for all its flaws, is the best history has managed to produce. In SURVEILLANCE STATE: Inside China’s Quest to Launch a New Era of Social Control (St. Martin’s Press; September 6, 2022), award-winning journalists Josh Chin and Liza Lin (Wall Street Journal) document with startling detail how China’s Communist Party is striving for something new: a political model that shapes the will of the people not through the ballot box but through the sophisticated—and often brutal—harnessing of data.

REGISTER NOW

Registration is free for the in-person event.

Purchase a copy of Surveillance State at registration to be signed by the authors at the event. You can also purchase unsigned copies from The Booksmith, our local bookshop in the historic Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, to be delivered to you, or from your own local bookstore.

Book Talk: Surveillance State
Authors Josh Chin and Liza Lin
September 14 @ 7pm PT
IN-PERSON @ the Internet Archive, 300 Funston Avenue, San Francisco
Registration is required! Register now

August Book Talk: Dataraising and Digital Civil Society

Featuring the book How We Give Now by Lucy Bernholz. Published by MIT Press.

What is dataraising and why should nonprofits care? For millennia humans have given time and money to each other and to causes they care about. A few hundred years ago we invented nonprofit organizations and they’ve become a key mechanism in the donation of private resources for public benefit. Now, we can also donate digital data. Organizations such as iNaturalist use donated digital photographs to build communities of nature lovers and inform climate scientists. Other organizations are using donated data to build cultural archives, advocate for fair labor laws, protect consumers, and for medical research.

Watch session recording:

Join Lucy Bernholz, author of How We Give Now, Scott Loarie of iNaturalist, and Dr. Jasmine McNealy from the University of Florida for a discussion of the promises and perils of donating digital data and the implications for individuals, communities, and civil society.

Purchase your copy of How We Give Now from MIT Press.

August Book Talk: Dataraising and Digital Civil Society
Featuring Lucy Bernholz, author of How We Give Now, Scott Loarie of iNaturalist, and Dr. Jasmine McNealy from the University of Florida
August 10, 2022 @ 11am PT
Watch the session recording.