Too Much Information: being human in a digital age Nov 2014

Moody Matthias

To launch the first Being Human festival of the humanities in November 2014, I organised a one-day programme of events themed around the idea of ‘Too Much Information: Being Human in a Digital Age’.

Intended as a public facing ‘anti-conference’, the day drew together some leading thinkers, and around 2,000 members of the public, to consider some of the following questions:

What does it mean to be human in a digital age? When information is ever more readily available, how do we assess what is valuable? How does the constant barrage of information affect and shape human consciousness? Who are the gatekeepers and custodians of the information flow, and can they be trusted?

The programme of events included Ministry of Information themed tours of Senate House, digital art displays, visualisations and ‘hacks’ of the Mass Observation and Senate House archives, talks, performances and workshops, a research ‘Ignite’ event, and a keynote debate featuring Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt, Professor Heather Brooke and internet technologist, journalist and broadcaster Ben Hammersley.

The event also featured a collaboration with the British Library and the Speakers’ Corner trust. We organised a pop-up speakers’ corner in the Senate House Crush Hall, where Guardian columnist Zoe Williams sparked a debate on ‘Truth, Propaganda and Purpose’.

There was some press coverage of the event, including an interview with invited speaker Ben Hammersley in the Camden Journal

The full programme of events can be viewed below.

Saturday 15th November,
12 – 8pm
Senate House, University of London

Talks and Tours

Ministry of Information Walking Tour 12pm

Who does the web think you are?
Josh Cowls, Professor Eric T. Meyer and Professor Ralph Schroeder (University of Oxford)

12.30–1pm Beveridge Hall

Publishing and Propaganda in WWII Professor Simon Eliot (School of Advanced Study)

1–1.30pm Bloomsbury Room

Being Booth: Digital Rambling
Dr Adam Dennett (CASA, University College London)

1-2pm Bedford Room

Ministry of Information Walking Tour 1.30pm

Speakers’Corner: Truth, Propaganda and Purpose

1:40-2.15pm – Zoe Williams Crush Hall

Digital Humans/Digital Research

2.15- 3.15pm
Beveridge Hall
Sponsored by Palgrave MacMillan

Mass-Observation and Morale

2:30pm – 3pm Bloomsbury Suite

Ministry of Information Walking Tour 3pm

Speakers’Corner: Truth, Lies and the Individual Crush Hall

3:20-4pm – Professor Jeremy Gilbert

Too Much Information: Ignite!
Chaired: Dr Caroline Edwards (Birkbeck), Dr James Baker (British Library)

4–5.15pm Beveridge Hall

Plotting Morale in WWII –
Dr Henry Irving (School of Advanced Study)

4–4.30pm Bloomsbury Room

Hacking the archives light show (projections onto façade of Senate House)

4.30pm Malet Street Car Park
Supported by Arts Council England and Adam Matthew Digital

Welcome to Being Human: ribbon cutting reception

Professor Barry C. Smith, Professor Sarah Churchwell, Deborah Bull CBE, Baroness Onora’O’Neill

5–6.30pm Crush Hall

Openness, Secrets and Lies

Sir Nigel Shadbolt, Professor Heather Brooke, Ben Hammersley, Dr Sebastian Groes, Doc Rocket

6:30-8pm Beveridge Hall

Exhibitions and Drop-in Workshops

Ministry of Information Showcase: Communication and the Public in WWII

First Floor Mezzanine, Senate House

Being Mass-Observed

12–5pm MacMillan Hall

Adam Matthew Drop in Stall 12-5pm
MacMillan Hall

Hacking the Archives
12–4pm (followed by light show)

Work by artists Dan Brown, D-Fuse, Jaime Jackson, Ned James, Nat Pitt, Sally Payen and Cathy Wade
MacMillan Hall

The Historic Web: Uncover Your Traces

1-4pm MacMillan Hall

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