Cory Doctorow to deliver Kilgour Lecture on the precarious state of the internet

March 22, 2018

Author, activist, and journalist Cory Doctorow will deliver the 2018 OCLC/Frederick G. Kilgour Lecture on April 27 at 10 am in the CURRENT ArtSpace. In his talk, titled “The Internet, Peak Indifference, and the Point of No Return” Doctorow will argue that now is the time to permanently install freedom in the world's new electronic nervous system. The lecture, hosted by the UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS), is free and open to the public.

black and white headshot of Cory Doctorow
Author, activist, and journalist Cory Doctorow
Photo credit:

Abstract: For decades, regulators and corporations have viewed the internet and the computer as versatile material from which special-purpose tools can be fashioned: pornography distribution systems, jihadi recruiting networks, video-on-demand services, and so on.

But the computer is an unprecendented general purpose device capable of running every program we can express in symbolic language, and the internet is the nervous system of the 21st century, webbing these pluripotent computers together.

For decades, activists have been warning regulators and corporations about the peril in getting it wrong when we make policies for these devices, and now the chickens have come home to roost. Frivolous, dangerous and poorly thought-through choices have brought us to the brink of electronic ruin.

We are balanced on the knife-edge of peak indifference -- the moment at which people start to care and clamor for action -- and the point of no return, the moment at which it's too late for action to make a difference. There was never a more urgent moment to fight for a free, fair and open internet -- and there was never an internet more capable of coordinating that fight.

Bio: Cory Doctorow ( is a science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger — the co-editor of Boing Boing ( He is 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.

Doctorow works for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and is an MIT Media Lab Research Affiliate and Visiting Professor of Computer Science at Open University. He co-founded the UK Open Rights Group. Born in Toronto, Canada, he now lives in Los Angeles.

The OCLC/Frederick G. Kilgour Lecture in Information Science
The Frederick G. Kilgour Lecture was established in 2004 by OCLC Online Computer Library Center on the occasion of Dr. Kilgour’s 90th birthday. The lecture brings together scholars and leaders from around the world to share innovative ideas and cutting-edge research. The lecture honors Dr. Kilgour who was a Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus at SILS and Founder of OCLC. Of his many innovations, he is most noted for inventing the WorldCat database in 1971. WorldCat is one of the most consulted databases in higher education and is used daily by millions of students, teachers, scholars and researchers worldwide. Today, Web search engines use WorldCat to lead researchers to pertinent information in libraries around the globe.