CAMBRIDGE, MA, 27 March — Harvard English Literature PhD, former New York Times columnist, and current Yahoo! News correspondent Virginia Heffernan returned to her alma matter today to address a group at the Nieman Journalism Lab on the topic of The Internet, digital culture, and her upcoming book, Magic and Loss: The Pleasures of the Internet.
iRez readers, if you weren’t already familiar with Heffernan’s work, met her on 4 April when she helped us think about the “Girls Around Me” fuss. This week we’re again quoting her 27 March talk in our Facebook Says question for July, and so it seemed like a good occasion to present her compelling Nieman Lab talk. The video is above, to listen while running, driving, etc, the audio is below.
Heffernan’s informal, anecdotal, romantic waxing on the nature and history of The Internet is, for me, one of the most profound talks I have ever heard on the topic. In her description of a poetic, spiritual, RPG place, she understands The Internet as I have always understood it, even though I did not know I understood it that way before her characterization of it.
Her host and former CompuServe buddy, Professor of Law, Government, and Computer Science at Harvard, and author most recently of The Future of the Internet – And How to Stop It, Jonathan Zittrain, helps tease out the layers in her consideration of “loss:” both the loss of analog, tactile culture, as well as the loss of the early, open, explorer days of The Internet, that Tim Wu considered so powerfully in his masterpiece, The Master Switch (Knopf, 2010)
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