The 2008 forums

The 2008 Information Futures Forum series was co-hosted by the Information Futures Commission and the Information Management program at the University of Melbourne.

We are grateful to VALA, the National Young Writers' Festival, the Australia Council Literature Board (through its Story of the Future initiative), the University of Newcastle Writing Cultures Research Group, and the Faculty of Arts at the University of Melbourne, for their assistance with booking guest speakers in 2008.

The Tower and the Cloud

29 January 2008

Members of the University community were invited to attend the launch by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Glyn Davis, of the Information Futures Commission.

The launch was marked by a presentation by Mr Richard Katz, Vice-President of EDUCAUSE, a US-based non-profit association to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology. Richard was also Director of the EDUCAUSE Centre for Applied Research (ECAR). He spoke about themes from his forthcoming book, The Tower and the Cloud, which explores the complex relationships between academia, scholarly information and advanced technology.

Unlocking access

5 February 2008

The case for open access publishing has become increasingly unassailable as researchers recognise the benefits of wider distribution and greater impact as well as the consequences of funder mandates. This talk will focus on another important aspect of open access - the role it can play in countering restrictive copyright laws and onerous contractual limitations on scholarly research and dissemination.

Dr Michael Geist was the Canada Research Chair of Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa. He holds a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) degree from Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, Master of Laws (LL.M.) degrees from Cambridge University in the UK and Columbia Law School in New York, and a Doctorate in Law (J.S.D.) from Columbia Law School.

Dr Geist has written numerous academic articles and government reports on the Internet and law. He serves on the Privacy Commissioner of Canada's Expert Advisory Board and maintains, a leading privacy law resource. Dr Geist has served on the director and advisory boards of several Internet and IT law organisations. He is regularly quoted in Canadian national and international media on Internet law issues and has appeared before government committees on e-commerce policy.

Dr Geist was visting Melbourne as a keynote speaker at the VALA 2008 conference. The Information Futures Commission is grateful to VALA for enabling Dr Geist to appear at the University of Melbourne.

Research in the 3rd Millennium AD - from research by the knowledge poor to research by the knowledge rich (a work in progress)

27 March 2008

Mr Rhys Francis was Executive Director of the Australian E-Research Infrastructure Council.

From 2005, as the program manager for the APAC National Grid, Rhys Francis developed and deployed an infrastructure that provides seamless access from research desktops to many of Australia?s high end computing and mass data services, and is now the NCRIS Facilitator for Platforms for Collaboration.

Rhys moved to CSIRO in 1990 to develop high-level application languages and algorithms for high performance computing. He was appointed as a Research Program Manager in 1994 and has worked on projects including electronic record keeping in government, e-commerce in the wool industry, and resource discovery and advanced information products in the manufacturing, construction, finance and media sectors.

Appointed as CSIRO's ICT Sector Leader in 2001, Rhys helped articulate the strategy for ICT research in CSIRO which led to the establishment of the CSIRO ICT Centre. He then moved to became CSIRO's Director for High Performance Scientific Computing and  helped evolve CSIRO's strategy in emerging e-science services.

How will scholarly information and technologies be used in teaching and learning in 10 years' time?

28 April 2008

This panel discussion explored the ways in which scholarly information and technologies will be used in teaching and learning at the University of Melbourne in the next decade.

  • How will we be using information and technologies to create a premium quality, research-led educational environment?
  • How will the patterns of teaching and learning have changed?
  • How will students expect to be using information in their learning?
  • How will staff be using information in teaching and learning?
  • What should we do now to prepare for this future?

Four panellists led the discussion by presenting brief perspectives on the future of scholarly information and technologies:

  1. Dr Dianne Chambers, Melbourne Graduate School of Education
  2. Dr Kerri-Lee Harris, Centre for the Study of Higher Education
  3. Professor Richard James, Centre for the Study of Higher Education
  4. Dr Gregor Kennedy, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences

The Library of the Future

20 May 2008

A panel of experts addressed this topic from several perspectives:

  • The library as a community - Professor Pip Pattison, President of Academic Board
  • The library as a collection and resource - Professor Janet McCalman, Chair Libraries Committee
  • The library as a service for education and research - Gillian Luck, Vice-Principal and Academic Registrar
  • The library as a place - Dr Kenn Fisher, Director, Learning Futures, Rubida Research Pty Ltd

Vendors' Day

28 May 2008

Staff and students were invited to hear key external information vendors presenting their insights on "The future of scholarly information and technologies: a 10 year view". Each vendor gave a 30-minute presentation with time for questions at the end.

Guest speakers:

  • Blackboard: Tony Macguire, Regional Manager
  • Sun Microsystems: Simon Phipps, Chief Open Source Officer
  • DA Books: Richard Siegersma, Executive Chairman
  • Cisco: Michelle Selinger, Director, Education, Asia Pacific
  • Apple: Stephen Atherton, National Development Executive, Higher Education
  • Blackwell: Carolyne Cohn, Area Sales Manager
  • Telstra: Crispin Blackall, Director, Future Technology Solutions
  • Ex Libris: Oren Beit-Arie, Chief Strategy Officer

The future of online media and publishing

9 October 2008

Simon Worthington and Alessandro Ludovico, editors of two of Europe's most ingenious radical publishers, took an in-depth look at experimental digital publishing, network culture, open source and collaborative approaches and the dissolving boundaries between writing, publishing, networking and socialising. From the Documenta 12 Magazines Project to OpenMute to Amazon Noir, Simon and Allesandro offered insights into some of the world's most exciting contemporary literary projects.

Simon and Alsseandro also introduced Web2Pod, a new print model which lets readers create high-quality, cheap, customised print-on-demand books and mags directly from a website. Combine this with new experimental distribution systems which harness sophisticated technology, social networks and common-sense local knowledge and you have an exciting new model for producing and disseminating work.

Simon Worthington was co-director and publisher of Mute magazine in London ( He  pioneered many independent and social media publishing platforms and technologies. In 2008 he led OpenMute's technology design team, working on a variety of cutting-edge web projects including web-based Print on Demand books ( and an online/offline alternative media distribution network

Alessandro Ludovico is a media critic and editor in chief of the highly respected Neural magazine . He is the author of many essays on digital culture, co-edited Mag.Net Reader (1 and 2), is a founding contributor to the Nettime community, one of the founders of the Mag.Net (Electronic Cultural Publishers' organization) and teaches at the Academy of Art in Carrara. He is also the man behind art/hacking projects such as Google Will Eat Itself and Amazon Noir.

This event was presented by the National Young Writers' Festival ( and the University of Melbourne. This initiative was supported by the Australia Council Literature Board through its Story of the Future initiative; and the University of Newcastle Writing Cultures Research Group. Thanks to Sean Cubitt in the Faculty of Arts for his assistance.