About this Project

The digital revolution is triggering a wave of new information control efforts, ranging from monopolistic patent laws to the Great Firewall of China. These efforts are sometimes conspicuous, as with the deletion of archives or the arrest of authors, and sometimes subtle, as in the fine-print terms of service contracts that accompany the software downloads that saturate our lives. How are these efforts affecting creativity, innovation, and discourse? How do they endanger the circulation and survival of art and knowledge in the digital age? And how can we craft policies that will simultaneously protect creators, businesses, consumers, artistic freedom, and privacy? This project proposes to answer these questions by leveraging our knowledge of the print revolution after 1450, a moment like our own, when the explosive dissemination of a new information technology triggered a wave of information control efforts. Many of today’s attempts at information control closely parallel early responses to the printing press, so the pre-modern case gives us centuries of data showing how such attempts variously incentivized, discouraged, curated, silenced, commodified, or nurtured art and expression. Examining the digital revolution in light of the print revolution will help us avoid repeating past mistakes, and let us craft information control policies that will make the digital world a fertile space for art and innovation.

A public dialogue series will bring together scholars of print revolutions past and present with practitioners working on the frontiers of today’s information revolution. These events will not be formal panels with presented papers, but freeform discussions in which experts bounce ideas off each other, discovering rich parallels between our work and sharing them in real time. Taking place from October through November, the eight dialogues will unite historians, editors, novelists, poets, and activists, and will be filmed and shared online, to let the public enjoy and continue the discussions. For more details on the series and related events, please visit voices.uchicago.edu/censorship.

News

Is Facebook a “Surveillance System”?

August 16, 2018

Cory Doctorow, a collaborator on our Censorship, Information Control, and Information Revolutions research project, joins the Yahoo News podcast "Bots and Ballots" to discuss Facebook's approach to politics.

Calendar

Fri.
November 30, 2018

Controlling Readers, Policing Reception

1:30 pm - 4:20 pm
Kent Chemical Laboratory, Room 107


Fri.
November 16, 2018

Policing Performance

1:30 pm - 4:20 pm
Kent Chemical Laboratory, Room 107


Fri.
November 9, 2018

Changes in Media Technology Small and Large

1:30 pm - 4:20 pm
Kent Chemical Laboratory, Room 107