Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 15, No. 322.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Date: Sun, 21 Oct 2001 08:03:14 +0100
From: Prof I Butterworth <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Workshop on 'Virtuality: the social impacts of virtual
Some time ago the Academia Europaea announced a small targeted workshop on
'Virtuality: the social impacts of virtual information'. I confirm that
the workshop will be taking at place at the Istituto Veneto di Scienze,
Lettere ed Arti, Venice ( see http://www.istitutoveneto.it) 16th,17th and
18th November 2001. Participation is by invitation only - but there are a
very small number of places still available.
Contact should be made by e-mail to the Executive Secretary of the
Academia Europaea at:
The workshop will start at 14.30 on Friday 16th November and end at lunch
time on Sunday 18th November. We are able to provide free hotel
accommodation for the two nights of 16-17th and 17-18th and meals at the
workshop, but unfortunately our budget will not stretch to paying for air
or train fares. We have block booked hotel accommodation.
It is intended that the workshop will operate primarily through
'brainstorming' round tables of some 10 people, reporting back to plenary
meetings of the full workshop. In this way all participants will be
expected to contribute. Each roundtable will be led by a facilitator and
a rapporteur will record discussion.
Given below is a draft programme with suggestions for the various issues
that the Workshop might address. It is unlikely that we can discuss all
of them; subjects on which to concentrate will depend on the final list
The announced programme is given below - but we will now obviously also
address the role of communications in abetting or fighting terrorism,
the balance between law enforcement and free speech and related issues.
Friday 16th November
2 p.m. Registration
2.45 Introduction and opening presentation
3.15 First Breakout Session: e-Commerce
A.1 Relation of e-commerce to the 'old economy'
New businesses and new ways of doing business
Lessons from the first dot.coms
Hidden and real costs of e-commerce
A.2 Perceptions: The Public, Business and Financial Institutions
The dangers of 'hype' and of 'complacency'
Security in connection with e-commerce.
A.3 The arrival of new service providers, dangers and opportunities:
Amazon vs. bookstores
5.00 First Plenary and Agreed Recommendations
Saturday 17th November
9.30 a.m. Introduction
9.45 Second Breakout Session: Economic Issues
B.1 Fundamental shifts in economic thinking.
How to account knowledge and other intangible assets.
ICT is changing boundaries between 'public' and 'private'
Open access to formerly closed areas.
Virtual technologies seem to be open to abuse to monopolies
B. 2 The Quality of virtual material.
Standards and who should maintain them.
The role of government, academia, media
B.3 The skills gap in ICT in Europe
Professional ICT workers. Import and export of skilled ICT workers.
Lack of ICT skills and understanding in commerce/industry
Absence of ICT skills in the general public
Need for user-friendly ICT
11.30 Second Plenary and Agreed Recommendations
15.00 Third Breakout Session : Social Impacts
C1. The digital divide between social groups
The digital divide between regions and countries
C2. The dangers (and merits) of communication technologies disturbing
Does greater use of the virtual de-humanise social relations?
The use of virtuality to enrich the lives of the lonely, isolated or
Use of ICT for community building.
C3. How do we deal with the fact that electronic communications link
with very different beliefs or norms?
Is such linking a good thing or disorientating?
The technology can support illegal or anti-social material but can be
used to suppress such material.
Censorship and Freedom of Speech.
The role of national courts and international agreements in controlling
17.00 Third Plenary and Agreed Recommendations
Sunday 18th November
9.45 Fourth Breakout Session: Sociology, Psychology and Philosophy of
D1. The sociology and psychology of information overflow
Have we too much information?
How many e-mail messages can we process per day?
How many hours surfing?
Hundreds of TV channels: Blessing or curse? Improved choice or worsening
D2. Philosophical issues
The distinctions between virtuality and reality
Can virtuality act as experimental philosophy
The dangers when children and adults have difficulty of distinguishing
between the virtul and the real.
D3. Ethical issues
Use of ICT to track a persons's interests and beliefs. Use of such
information for commercial use.
Availability of medical information about individuals and groups.
Electronic and networked games which simulate, and possibly stimulate,
Pornography. (70% of e-commerce ?) Where are the boundaries?
11. 45 Fourth Plenary and Agreed Recommendations
1. Final Workshop Synthesis
13.00 Workshop ends and lunch
Professor Ian Butterworth CBE FRS
Vice-President Academia Europaea
Senior Research Fellow
The Blackett Laboratory
Prince Consort Road
London SW7 2BW
Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 7525
Fax: +44 (0)20 7823 8830
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