April 17, 2006
Futurist Alex Pang to give talk on 'End
of Cyberspace' April 25
Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, research director of the Institute
for the Future, will give a talk on the "End of Cyberspace" on
Tuesday, April 25, at 4 p.m. at McHenry Library Special Collections.
Light refreshments will be served
Alex Pang brings a strong historical and theoretical perspective
to his work on the future of pervasive computing, the end of
cyberspace, and the coevolution of technology and society.
He is a founding editor of the Institute for the Future's Future
Now, a blog on emerging technologies. He holds a Ph.D. in
history and the sociology of science from the University of
In his own words, Pang will address the relationship between
information technology and society and the limits of cyberspace:
"According to futurists writing in the early years of
the personal computer age, by 2005 printed newsletters were
supposed to be obsolete, books a rarity, libraries an anachronism.
Digital media were creating an alternate dimension of information
and thought: cyberspace. In cyberspace, information would roam
free of the constraints of pages and books, becoming accessible
anywhere to anyone, unstoppable by borders, unmanageable by
jealous professions and priesthoods.
"Yet libraries are still here, filled with books. Academics
still have offices and teach in classrooms. Corporate offices
are no less opulent, real, or necessary than they were 50 years
ago. What's going on?"
"It should surprise no one when the future unfolds differently
than we expect. But we can learn from our mistakes. Studying
futures that don't happen can help us better understand the
world we inhabit, and the world we'll inhabit in the future.
This is a particularly good time to think about why computers
and the Web didn't mean the end of books and libraries, for
in the coming decade, a new generation of information technologies
is likely to dramatically change the relationship between information,
technology, and the world, rendering the very concept of "cyberspace"
obsolete. Understanding why the present has taken the shape
it has could help us make better choices in this coming world."
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