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HOST: Alexander Heffner
GUEST: John Palfrey
AIR DATE: 06/21/14
I’m Alexander Heffner, your new host on The Open Mind.
For more than a half-century, my grandfather explored the universe of ideas from this chair, and I was fortunate to benefit from his tutelage.
In taking his seat as he hoped I would, I’ll carry on Open Mind’s mission as he conceived it: “To elicit meaningful insights into the challenges Americans face in contemporary areas of national concern…a quiet and thoughtful excursion into the world of ideas.”
Paying attention to issues such as immigration, climate change, and the nature of our digital society, Open Mind’s commitment to non-adversarial conversation in the public interest continues here today…as I welcome my first guest.
There is no more perceptive analyst of technology and “Digital Natives,” those who came of age during the Internet revolution, than John Palfrey: Chairman of the Digital Public Library of America and Head of School at Phillips Academy, Andover, where he leads a seminar on “Hacking: A Course in Experiments.”
The former Henry Ess Professor and Vice Dean at Harvard Law School, Palfrey was Executive Director from 2002 to 2008 of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, where he co-authored the critically acclaimed bookBorn Digital.
I know John Palfrey to be a most inspiring champion of open access, digital literacy, and youth empowerment – both in his stewardship of the Digital Public Library and as a mentor to many Harvard and Andover students. While eternally optimistic that the digital world is a glass half-full – not half-empty – Palfrey is sensitive to the human values, ethical, and legal considerations of a pre-Google world that sometimes appear in conflict with the tactics of WikiLeaks or Edward Snowden.
In a February lecture in Akron, Ohio, Palfrey compellingly explored the uses and misuses of technology, the digital divide between naïve and sophisticated Web-users, and the Digital Public Library’s role in bringing knowledge to more communities – topics we’ll explore in a moment.
But first I want to ask John Palfrey how he sees this generation of Digital Natives to be evolving, if there remains a tension between “open access” and “privacy”, and if, perhaps, a second generation of Digital Natives has already arisen without these clashing interests.