The Interrobang: A Festival of Questions
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It has to be said: the cat pictures might not be enough. The internet definitively sucks sometimes. It’s a willing and fertile host to our most objectionable prejudice, anger and desire; an open marketplace for exploitation, child porn and illicit drugs and weapons. It provides a container for our greed, impatience and emotional evasiveness, and its liberating potential often feels like a false promise buried in a much larger mountain of disconnection, voyeurism and social media-fuelled narcissism.
Even the feelgood and useful bits are compromised – our tracked behaviour is sold to advertisers, while security agencies like the NSA have been found to spy extensively on … well, almost everybody.
In that light, is it blind and foolish to defend the internet – or does idealism provide a corrective vision? What gives this incredible technological structure its potency? What does the internet offer in terms of political freedom and social mobility, privacy and big data, and broadcasting and publishing and political change – and what does it cost us?
Blogger, science fiction author, Electronic Frontier Foundation special advisor and Boing Boing co-editor Cory Doctorow will speak with multitalented and beloved broadcaster, writer and director Alan Brough about whether we should really destroy the internet – or whether it instead needs our protection.
Cory Doctorow is a science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger – the co-editor of Boing Boing and the author of Walkaway, a novel for adults, a YA graphic novel called In Real Life, the nonfiction business book Information Doesn't Want to Be Free, and young adult novels like Homeland, Pirate Cinema and Little Brother and novels for adults like Rapture of the Nerds and Makers. He works for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is a MIT Media Lab Research Affiliate, is a Visiting Professor of Computer Science at Open University and co-founded the UK Open Rights Group. Born in Toronto, Canada, he now lives in Los Angeles.
Alan Brough was born in New Zealand and is quite a bit older than he'd like to be. Alan has always loved books and, from an early age, wanted to be a writer. Then he and his Dad went to see Star Wars and Alan decided that, actually, he really, really, really, really, really wanted to be an actor.
After having been an actor for a while Alan realised there wasn't that much work for a 6'4" guy with a slightly lopsided face and thick curly hair so he tried his hand at directing, broadcasting, composing, dancing (true!), singing and, in an unexpected turn of events, being a professional music nerd.
Recently, he got around to being a writer.
One day he hopes to have a bio that includes phrases like 'bestselling', 'award-winning' and 'so successful that he recently bought a solid gold toilet' but, until then, he's just happy to look at his copy of Charlie and the War Against the Grannies and think: 'Cool! I wrote a book!'
The Interrobang – a new festival from the Wheeler Centre – is looking for the best questions in the world.
Ask your questions and vote on others, then join us on 27–28 November for a feast of frequently unanswered questions – as we present your most controversial, revealing, funny and insightful ideas to a 28-strong Brains Trust of the world’s most inquisitive thinkers.
Pose your question at The Interrobang festival website. We’re building this festival on your curiosity, so brace yourself – and wonder hard.
• City of Melbourne
• The University of Melbourne