Beyond the Web

In the Fall of 2023, details about upcoming events are hosted on the Hamilton Lugar website.  All events are hosted on Tuesdays at Noon ET.


Upcoming Events from the IU Calendar

There are no events at this time.

Archived talks and streams

Andrew McLuhan, poet, author, founder, and director of The McLuhan Institute (TMI), presents "Can we survive AI?".

Andrew McLuhanAndrew McLuhan

No, we can’t: AI is poised to revolutionize the way we do many things, which will existentially change who we are and what it means to be human.

Yes, we can: Ours is a history of developing technologies which revolutionize our ways, changing who we are and what it means to be human – and that might just be the definition of what it means to be human.

Yes, we will survive; no, we will never be the same.

The choices we make today will determine our tomorrow.


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Mei Lin Fung's spoke in person at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.

"To Break Away from Digital Colonialism, Create the Participation Frontier Trail"

Mei Lin FungPeople are rich, complex economic and social beings. Colonized people of yesteryear are precursors to the “users” of today. Participation and feedback systems can pave a new participation frontier trail that we can pioneer equitably together.

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"Seize the Means of Computation: The Big Tech Disassembly Manual"

40 years ago, we shot antitrust law in the guts, and we let companies led by mediocre idiots no better than their forebears establish monopolies. These donkeys were able to parlay their monopoly winnings into policies that prevented new technologies from supplanting their own. They got to decide who was allowed to compete with them, and how.

Notably, tech giants today are able to wield the law against interoperators: new technologies that plug into their services, systems and platforms. That’s a privilege that none of yesterday’s easily toppled tech giants had - if IBM wanted to prevent its competitors (the “seven dwarves” of the mainframe era) from making software, printers, keyboards, and storage for its mainframes, it had to figure out how to build a computer that no one else could reverse-engineer and improve on.

For complex reasons, this is impossible. The very bedrock of computer science - ideas named for midcentury computing demigods like “Turing completeness” and “Von Neumann machines” - dictates that the creation of noninteroperable computers is a fool’s errand. It’s fantasy, not science fiction, like a time machine or a faster-than-light drive.

Today’s tech giants have not invented an interop-proof computer. They’ve invented laws that make interoperability illegal unless they give permission for it. A new, complex thicket of copyright, patent, trade secret, noncompete, and other IP rights has conjured up a new offense we can think of as “Felony contempt of business model” - the right of large firms to dictate how their customers, competitors and even their critics must use their products.

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"Beckn: A Radical New Open Protocol Leveling the Field in the Digital Economy"

In this conversation, Sujith Nair, CEO & Co-founder of will walk us through recent developments of how the Beckn Protocol, an open resource discovery and transaction protocol is enabling the creation of decentralized Open Networks. He will give examples of evolving success stories using this approach in critical sectors like Urban Mobility, eCommerce and Social protection. Get ready for some intriguing implications in a Beckn-enabled world—and how the Byway in our home town of Bloomington might be the first place Beckn gets put to use in the U.S.

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“How the Species Killing the Planet can Save It”

In order for 8 billion people to live on the planet, we have to get our per-person environmental consumption down by about 10x. There are people that have those kinds of footprints today, all over the world, living successfully. What can we learn from their lives, and how can we apply it to our own?

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"Saving us from Big Tech: the Gen Z Solution"

Tech monopolies profit from undermining public health, democracy, human autonomy, and competition in the economy. The incentives of industry, politicians, and journalists are misaligned with the needs of consumers, but that means that young people are our best hope for both political solutions and new technology alternatives.

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"Infrastructure for Community Governance: Two Prototype"

Join Professor Nathan Schneider of the University of Colorado for a lively discussion asking what kinds of tools would we need to enable robust, creative shared governance in online spaces? This talk introduces two prototypes that attempt to answer that question: CommunityRule (for designing group structures and processes) and Modpol (for embedding governance in online games).

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If Doc Searls’ theory is right, markets will change radically—in compliance with what customers actually want, rather than what marketers can guess at (mostly by spying on people). His theory is that free customers are more valuable than captive ones—to sellers, to markets, and to customers themselves. Doc has been probing that theory since 2006 through ProjectVRM at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, and lately also at the Ostrom Workshop, where he and his wife Joyce are both visiting scholars.

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The main business model of the Web goes by a label we all now know from the title of Shoshana Zuboff’s landmark book, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power. How do we fight surveillance capitalism? And how do we work around it? How, especially, can we keep our new Byway from becoming infested with it—or with the mendacities behind it?

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The Web is wonderful. Yet, while it’s a place where you can gather easily and find nearly all the information you want, it’s also where it’s easy to unknowingly have your thoughts, opinions, prejudices and choices of friends hacked by algorithmic nudging and viral misinformation. How can we do better, elsewhere on the Internet—such as on the Byway we’re exploring in this salon series?

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“Back when the Internet took off, in the mid-1990’s, it was called the “information superhighway.” (See the usage trend here.) While that term has fallen out of use, the need for original approaches to transport, both offline and on, is greater than ever—especially since we seem to have entrenched status quos in both. Can we meet that need?”

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“How can the Internet do what its parents wanted it to do: extend human reach and cognition, facilitate coordination and cooperation, work as an architectural foundation, and have no owners? And why has the Web failed at much of that? Also, how can the Byway succeed while the Web is still busy failing, yet clearly satisfying a great many needs?”

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“What was the Internet in the first place? And can we get past seeing it through the lens of the Web?”

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