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Darin Barney

One Nation Under Google: Citizenship in the Technological Republic

Date Recorded: Mar 22nd, 2007
Recorded At: Hart House University of Toronto
Recorded By: Big Ideas, ideas
Duration: 57:45  

Topic Background

In this latest Hart House lecture, Darin Barney offers reasons why citizens ought to participate in public discussion about how various technologies affect us and what should be done about them. Does more technology equal more freedom? While the nuts and bolts of technological progress – computers, cellphones, internet access wired and wireless – become accessible to more and more people, the promise of increased civic engagement enabled by these gadgets seems to have eluded our wired society. There’s a lot more to technology, and to democracy, than wires and buttons, and it has a much deeper affect on our lives than simply being tools we can use well or badly.In Dr. Barney’s words, “technology is, at once, irretrievably political and consistently depoliticizing. It is at the centre of this contradiction that the prospects for citizenship in the midst of technology lie.” Presenting a range of examples from YouTube to the hidden networks of food production and government bureaucracy, Barney contests the common notion that technology necessarily leads to enhanced freedom and improved civic engagement. One Nation Under Google examines the challenge of citizenship in a technological society, and asks whether the demands of technology are taking over the practice of democracy.
He spoke on March 22. 2007.A transcript of this talk can be found at

Speaker Biography

Darin Barney is a native of Vancouver, BC, and studied at Simon Fraser University and the University of Toronto, where he trained in political theory and received a Ph.D. in 1999. A pioneer working at the crossroads of social sciences and the humanities ,his research interests focus on the philosophy of technology, media and communication theory, and media and democracy.

Dr. Barney is the professor of Communication Studies at McGill University where he holds a Canada Research Chair in Communication and Media Studies.He has written numerous books and articles on these diverse subjects, with special emphasis on the democratic implications of digital information and communication technologies. He is the author most recently of Communication Technology: The Canadian Democratic Audit (UBC Press 2005). He has also written several articles on the relationship between digital technology and community, citizenship and the public sphere.

In 2004, Barney was selected as one of fifteen “Leaders of Tomorrow” by the Partnership Group for Science and Engineering. From 2000-2005, he served on the Advisory Council of the Law Commission of Canada. Barney currently lives in Montreal, Canada, and he is currently on the Board of Directors of CKUT Radio McGill.

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