Final Keynote: John Naughton

Many of the most important technological developments in computing and networking have come as surprises – pleasant and/or unpleasant – to professional communities and commercial organisations, including those which are supposed to know what the future holds. How does this happen? Why are we so bad at anticipating the technological future? And what would we need to do to improve?


John Naughton #altc2011 (mp3)

Naughton read from a script, with no slides… which divided the Twitterstream (I hope someone’s going to blog on this) into those who thought that this demonstrated that the lecture was not dead, and those that felt that this demonstrated much that was wrong with conventional lectures… Can someone remind me what his three main points were (There was something about CDs, and I remember the final one was Wikipedia, and that in schools “the only technology guaranteed not to break down is the school bus”… which brought out many analogies about late/broken down buses!)

John Naughton: What You Really Need to Know About the Internet: From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg

Naughton: What you really need to know about the internet

Our society has gone through a weird, unremarked transition: we’ve gone from regarding the Net as something exotic to something that we take for granted as a utilitarian necessity, like mains electricity or running water. In the process we’ve been remarkably incurious about its meaning, significance or cultural implications. Most people have no idea how the network works, nor any conception of its architecture; and few can explain why it has been – and continues to be – so uniquely disruptive in social, economic and cultural contexts. In other words, our society has become dependent on a utility that it doesn’t really understand. John Naughton has distilled the noisy chatter surrounding the internet’s relentless evolution into nine clear-sighted and accessible areas of understanding. In doing so he affords everyone the requisite knowledge to make better use of the technologies and networks around us, and see lucidly into their future implications. Along the way, From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg: What You Really Need to Know About the Internet covers areas as diverse as the science of complexity, the economics of abundance, the appeal of disruption and the problematic nature of intellectual property. From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg: What You Really Need to Know About the Internet gives you all the basic, conceptual equipment you need to understand the Internet phenomenon.

About the Author

John Naughton is Professor of the Public Understanding of Technology at the Open University and a Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge. He is also the Observer’s ‘Networker’ columnist and a prominent blogger at His last book was A Brief History of the Future: The Origins of the Internet (1999).
Buy the book!


ALT-C 2012 will take place between 11 and 13 September 2012 at the University of Manchester, and will focus on ‘a confrontation with reality’, seeking to take a pragmatic approach to using technology in education, rather than innovation for innovation’s sake.. it’s being introduced here by the Co-Chairs for next year:

altc2011final 022

All Digital Fingerprint blog entries related to #ALTC2011 are now updated and viewable to read, and see the archive of Tweets on Twapperkeeper.

2 Responses

  1. From @matthewriddle: “What the internet does best is disssolve value chains”. 2nd example was Newspaper industry, classified ads vs Craigslist..

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