2021 Presentations (Communicative Events)
Lessons from Experiments in Local Community-Building
This panel will focus on lessons learned from local communities and the implications of these lessons for online spaces. Sara Lomax-Reese is the CEO of WURD, a family-owned talk radio station in Philadelphia that serves that city’s Black community. Michael Wood-Lewis is co-founder of Front Porch Forum, an online community of mailing lists that serves every town in Vermont. Individually and in dialog, both will address lessons learned in building hyperlocal media and the ways in which online communities build trusted relationships.
Reimagine the Internet is a virtual conference co-hosted by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and the soon-to-be-launched Initiative on Digital Public Infrastructure at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In six sessions over five days, there will be more than a dozen speakers whose work hints at what the internet could become over the next decade.
As the internet has become an inescapable part of our commercial, social, and civic lives, the flaws and harms of the contemporary internet have become increasingly apparent. Despite rhetoric of decentralization, monopolies and points of control have arisen online, and powerful corporations have largely unregulated power over vast swaths of speech and commerce. The spaces these corporations have built may be having significant negative effects on our democracies, leading towards political polarization, the spread of mis/disinformation, and the growth of politically influential conspiracy theories.
While there is robust debate about what social ills can be traced to decisions made by commercial actors, the discussion over what’s to be done is often circumscribed. We debate how platforms like Facebook and YouTube should be regulated to be less harmful, but the conversation rarely extends to questions about how we could design new internet spaces that could lead towards healthier discussions, communities, and societies. “Reimagine the Internet” is an event designed to spark some of these conversations and to feature some of the most promising efforts in this direction.