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Symposium: Beginning and End(s) of the Internet, Utah, Sept. 20-21, 2013

The Beginning and End(s) of the Internet:
Surveillance, Censorship, and the Future of Cyber-Utopia

The Departments of Communication and History at the University of Utah
are seeking submissions for the fourth Frontiers of New Media Symposium
to be held on the campus of the University of Utah, September, 20-21,
2013. The Frontiers symposium, which has been held every other year
since 2009, brings together a diverse group of scholars to discuss the
past, present, and future of media and communication technologies.

This year’s theme, “The Beginning and End(s) of the Internet:
Surveillance, Censorship, and the Future of Cyber-Utopia,” asks
scholars, activists, and journalists to consider the past, present, and
possible futures of the Internet as a force for good in the world.

In 1969, the University of Utah was the fourth of four nodes of the
ARPANet. For many academic and popular commentators, the birth of the
ARPANet, and later the Internet, marked the beginning of a new frontier:
cyberspace. These same commentators believed that cyberspace heralded
the emergence of a new and hopeful period of communication, political
economy, and culture. In 1996, John Parry Barlow’s “Declaration of the
Independence of Cyberspace” famously proclaimed that cyberspace “is a
world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies
live. We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or
prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station
of birth. We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his
or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced
into silence or conformity.” Here is the CyberUtopia: a new, cybernetic
nonplace. And yet, this nonplace has a strong connection to a particular
geographic place: the American West and the research institutions
situated there.

It is in the American West that a new nonplace is being built, also of
global reach and significance, but of a decidedly different purpose. By
September of this year – perhaps during this symposium – the National
Security Agency’s “Community Comprehensive National Cybersecurity
Initiative Data Center” will be completed in Bluffdale, Utah. As several
investigative reports and academic studies have shown, this data center
will be a key archive of the electronic communications of individuals
all over the world, American citizens included. The NSA data center has
quickly become an icon for those who point to the growth of government
and corporate surveillance and censorship of the Internet worldwide,
including among Western democracies. For some, this data center raises
the specter of an emergent dystopia, all too real, and all too opposed
to the heady dreams of cyber-utopia.

This year’s Frontiers of New Media Symposium invites scholars,
activists, and journalists to address a number of questions:

How do we read cyber-utopian discourse today? With governments worldwide
seeking ever-greater control of the Internet, what hope, if any, remains
for for achieving the dreams of cyber-utopia? In what ways can the
Internet still be a force for good?

How does this history connect to other histories of communication and
technology?

What other methods of locating, mapping, and shaping communications
networks have occurred in the past, and what can we learn from them?

How are specific sites like the NSA data center connected to the
seemingly ubiquitous and placeless network?

Has the “frontier” of the Internet closed? Is this the end of the
Internet as envisioned by cyber-utopians?

Submit abstracts of no more than 600 words to
submissions@frontiersofnewmedia.org by April 1, 2013. Selection
decisions will be made by April 30, 2013.

Travel expenses and a modest honorarium will be provided for all
selected participants, including international participants.

The Frontiers of New Media Symposium is made possible by the generous
support of Simmons Media and is produced jointly by the departments of
History and Communication at the University of Utah.

--
Robert W. Gehl
Assistant Professor, Department of Communication
The University of Utah
www.robertwgehl.org | @robertwgehl
Sent from our OS on our Internet

Robert W. Gehl
Assistant Professor, Department of Communication
The University of Utah
www.robertwgehl.org/blog | @robertwgehl
Sent from our OS on our Internet