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Opening Keynote - The Day of the Comet: what Trustbusting Means for Digital Manipulation

Big Tech likes to boast about how good it is at manipulating us and oh, they are! But the cover manipulation - the psychological tricks they sell to advertisers and politicians - are thinly supported by the evidence and rely on self-serving, internal research that is largely indistinguishable from marketing puffery. On the other hand, there are plenty of ways that Big Tech provably alters our behavior: Facebook locks all your friends in its walled garden so you need a Facebook account to talk to your friends. Apple locks apps in its walled garden so you can't access apps that Apple doesn't like. Google pays billions to make it the default search on every platform, so any time you ask a question, they're the ones giving you an answer. All of this manipulation doesn't require psychological or technological tricks - all it needs is monopoly, and for the first time in 40 years, lawmakers are getting serious about fighting monopolies. Using anti-monopoly laws to break Big Tech's power may sound like a win: but if it turns out that Big Tech's claims to psychological manipulation mastery are true, then won't breaking Big Tech up just create dozens of little, reckless firms that have access to these devastating psychological weapons? In other words: if Big Tech is a comet headed at our planet threatening all life, then won't breaking it up turn it into a devastating meteor shower that we can't hope to survive?
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NISO Plus 2021


February 22-25, 2021

NISO Plus 2021 was our first virtual conference, held in February of 2021. A global undertaking, NISO Plus 2021 had over 800 participants from 26 countries come together to have a conversation about the state of the information ecosystem. Here you'll find both the presentations and discussions from that event.
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Cory Doctorow

Writer - n/a

Cory Doctorow ( is a science fiction novelist, blogger and technology activist. He is the co-editor of the popular weblog Boing Boing (, and a contributor to many magazines, websites and newspapers. He is a special consultant to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (, a non-profit civil liberties group that defends freedom in technology law, policy, standards and treaties. He holds an honorary doctorate in computer science from the Open University (UK), where he is a Visiting Professor; he is also a MIT Media Lab Research Affiliate and a Visiting Professor of Practice at the University of South Carolina’s School of Library and Information Science. In 2007, he served as the Fulbright Chair at the Annenberg Center for Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California.

His novels have been translated into dozens of languages and are published by Tor Books, Head of Zeus (UK), Titan Books (UK) and HarperCollins (UK). He has won the Locus, Prometheus, Copper Cylinder, White Pine and Sunburst Awards, and been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula and British Science Fiction Awards.

His three latest books are WALKAWAY, a novel for adults (2017); IN REAL LIFE, a young adult graphic novel created with Jen Wang (2014); and INFORMATION DOESN’T WANT TO BE FREE, a business book about creativity in the Internet age (2014).

His latest young adult novel is HOMELAND, the bestselling sequel to 2008’s LITTLE BROTHER. His New York Times Bestseller LITTLE BROTHER was published in 2008. His latest short story collection is WITH A LITTLE HELP, available in paperback, ebook, audiobook and limited edition hardcover. In 2011, Tachyon Books published a collection of his essays, called CONTEXT: FURTHER SELECTED ESSAYS ON PRODUCTIVITY, CREATIVITY, PARENTING, AND POLITICS IN THE 21ST CENTURY (with an introduction by Tim O’Reilly) and IDW published a collection of comic books inspired by his short fiction called CORY DOCTOROW’S FUTURISTIC TALES OF THE HERE AND NOW. THE GREAT BIG BEAUTIFUL TOMORROW, a PM Press Outspoken Authors chapbook, was also published in 2011.

LITTLE BROTHER was nominated for the 2008 Hugo, Nebula, Sunburst and Locus Awards. It won the Ontario Library White Pine Award, the Prometheus Award as well as the Indienet Award for bestselling young adult novel in America’s top 1000 independent bookstores in 2008; it was the San Francisco Public Library’s One City/One Book choice for 2013. It has also been adapted for stage by Josh Costello.

He co-founded the open source peer-to-peer software company OpenCola, and serves on the boards and advisory boards of the Participatory Culture Foundation, the Clarion Foundation, the Open Technology Fund and the Metabrainz Foundation.