PEOPLE

William H. Dutton
Director

William H. Dutton is the Quello Professor of Media and Information at MSU, where he directs the Quello Center. Bill’s research is focused on Internet Studies, and the elaboration of his conception of ‘The Fifth Estate‘ of the Internet realm, which has generated new research projects and a book in progress. Prior to arriving at MSU, Bill was the Professor of Internet Studies, University of Oxford, where he was the Founding Director of the Oxford Internet Institute (OII), and Fellow of Balliol College. Before coming to Oxford in 2002, he was a Professor in the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California, where he remains an Emeritus Professor. In the UK, he was a Fulbright Scholar 1986-87, and was National Director of the UK’s Programme on Information and Communication Technologies (PICT) from 1993 to 1996.


Celebration to Recognize Endowed Faculty at MSU

Friday, May 5th, 2017

I was honored to take part in a celebration of the many endowed faculty at MSU. From the College of Communication Arts and Sciences #comartsci, a medallion was given to me – Bill Dutton – as the James H. and Mary B. Quello Professor of Media and Information Policy, in the Department of Media and Information, and John C. Besley, the Ellis N. Brandt Chair in Public Relations, and noted among many other things for his work on public attitudes toward science and scientists. Dean Prabu David was on hand to congratulate us.

John Besley, Prabu David, Bill Dutton, 2017

Dean David (CAS), Dean Floden (Education), & Gloria Floden

My major take away from this event is the need and value for the College #comartsci to attract more endowed professorships. They are indeed one way to attract faculty to the university and a terrific way to recognize alumni and others who give to the university. The best news of the event was a reminder that MSU was named at one of the world’s 50 powerhouse universities – so much potential for colleagues to fulfill in the coming years.

Bill, Gloria, Bob

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Great Tribute to Bob Albers from Media and Information Colleagues

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

As a new faculty member, arriving just three years ago, I learned a lot at the retirement party that the Department of Media and Information put on for Bob Albers, who was with the department for 35 years – maybe more. He was the first and founding director of what is called the Media Sandbox, which has attracted undergraduates across the university who want to learn the basics of media production.

All the art of media production went into his retirement party on May 1st. It was held in Studio A of the WKAR Studios, which are in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, as is the Media and Information Department. The party seemed to have been produced by the new director of the Sandbox, Karl Gude, who did a brilliant job mixing people, stories, and media into a major tribute for Bob. It was funny, informative, and touching, even for those like me who are new to the College and Department.

Congratulations to all who spoke and were involved in this production. In addition to Karl, these included Prabu David (Dean of College of Communication Arts and Sciences), Johannes Bauer, Gary Reid, Susi Elkins (General Manager of WKAR), Jeff Wray (College of Arts and Letters, who taught with Bob), Valeta Winsloff (mixed media from the back of the room at the Wizard of Oz media controller), Elise Conklin (one of Bob’s students who recently won a medal for the documentary “From Flint” at the 43rd Annual Student Academy Awards), and many many more.

Way to practice what you teach, my friends and colleagues, and thank you, Bob.

Bill Dutton

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Quello Lecture by Professor Barry Wellman on Networked Individualism

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Professor Barry Wellman’s Quello Lecture on ‘Digital Media and Networked Individualism’, given on 26 April 2017 to a packed, standing room only audience at the Department of Media and Information, Michigan State University.

The Quello Center presents: Barry Wellman: "Digital Media and Networked Individualism" from Quello Center on Vimeo.

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A Brief Interview with Barry Wellman about his Quello Lecture on Networked Individualism

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Professor Barry Wellman gave a Quello Lecture on Digital Media and Networked Individualism on 26 April 2017. Immediately before he spoke, Professor Bianca Reisdorf interviewed Barry, asking him to provide an overview of his talk, and his thoughts on connected seniors.

Barry Wellman: Interview with the Quello Center from Quello Center on Vimeo.

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Barry Wellman’s Lecture on Digital Media and Networked Individualism

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

We had a full house for Professor Barry Wellman’s talk on digital media and networked individualism. He was introduced brilliantly by his former student, MSU’s Professor Keith Hampton, and provided an entertaining and informative overview of his thesis on networked individualism. His emphasis was on the degree that the pundits continue to press the theme of the Internet and social media isolating individuals, and his own research, which demonstrates the opposite: digital media tends to connect people and reinforce family and friendship ties as well as introducing people to new friends and associates.

Dutton – Wellman – Hampton

Keith Hampton introducing Barry Wellman

Professor Wellman speaking about his book

Barry speaking with colleagues after the talk

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Quello Lecture by Richard Stallman, Free Software Foundation (the uncut version)

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

On April 11th, 2017, Richard Stallman, the President and Founder of the Free Software Foundation, gave a Quello Lecture at Michigan State University on “A Free Digital Society”. Here is the unedited version of this full talk, which you are free to use for educational purposes. The first hour is focus on ‘free software’, and the second hour moves into the discussion of surveillance, censorship, problems with Internet services, and discussion of electronic voting, and the war on sharing. There is also a short video of an interview with Richard here.

Richard Stallman talk at MSU from Quello Center on Vimeo.

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Quello Interview with Pioneer of Free Software Richard Stallman

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

Richard Stallman, perhaps the leading pioneer of Free Software, visited the Quello Center and delivered a Quello Lecture on 11 April 2017 to a standing room only audience. Immediately after his lecture, our Media and Information Masters Student, Irem Gokce Yildirim, did her first interview. She asked Richard to address key issues for the free software movement and related issues over surveillance in a digital society. His responses were clear and give you a sense of his more detailed presentation that is available here.

Richard Stallman interview with the Quello Center from Quello Center on Vimeo.

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Flashing Lights Save Birds: Thoughts on a Talk by Joelle Gehring

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

Joelle Gehring, PhD, a biologist for the FCC, works with communications tower operators to minimize bird collisions with towers, which are so serious that they are posing risks to endangered migratory birds. Dr Gehring noted that current estimates are that “6.8 million birds … collide with U.S. and Canadian communication towers during migration.

Joelle described the development of her research aimed at identifying what features of communications towers are leading to so many birds colliding with and being killed by collisions with these towers. The title of her talk was ‘Reducing Avian Collisions with Communications Towers: From Research to Implementation’. Living in Michigan, and studying wildlife ecology at Purdue University, she latched onto the problem of bird deaths being caused by them colliding with the towers. Her study looked systematically at such factors as the weather, the location of towers in the surrounding landscape, the tower support system (guide wires), the heights of the towers, and the tower lighting systems. Height makes a difference with broadcast towers being among the tallest and projecting into the flight paths of migratory birds. But whether the towers had lights that were constantly on or blinking turned out to be a surprising and important finding. Simply by ensuring that towers switched to blinking, flashing lights, created a far more bird friendly lighting system – saving tens of thousands of birds over time.

Dr Gehring’s research is one of the best examples of a clear and insightful project having major policy implications. Hers is research with a clear and major impact on migratory birds.

Joelle Gehring at MSU 2017

Joelle Flyer

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Path of a Lecture and Interview with Richard Stallman

Saturday, April 15th, 2017

Irem Gokce Yildirim, a masters student at MSU in my course on media and information policy, interviewed Richard Stallman after his Quello Lecture at MSU. It was her first interview, and she did a great job, with support from her husband, Ustun. Both are from Turkey and both are associated with the Free Software Foundation, for which Richard is the President and Founder.

RMS and Dutton at Auction of GNU at End of Lecture

The back story on how this happened is interesting to me. Ustun, pictured getting an autograph from Stallman, alerted Irem to an early visit by Richard to Michigan. Irem alerted me in class and suggested we invite Richard. This kicked off communications to get Richard Stallman to MSU for a Quello Lecture, and to asking Irem to play an important role in conducting the interview.

Irem and rms

Her interview and Richard Stallman’s lecture will be posted on the Quello site in due course, but this is how it all happened. Thanks to Irem and Ustun for enhancing the academic climate at the Quello Center and MSU’s College of Communication Arts & Sciences.

Ustun and rms

Post Script: Ustun won the GNU in the auction, and the photo is showing Ustun getting rms’s signature on the GNU. First auction at any Quello event, I believe.

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Stimulating Perspective on Free Digital Society by Richard Stallman: Not So Free?

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

Yesterday afternoon, April 11, Richard Stallman, President and Founder of the Free Software Foundation gave a rather comprehensive and critical perspective on the ways in which our digital society is not meeting his definition of a free society. His talk, entitled ‘A Free Digital Society’ began with a focus on free software, meaning software that does not control the user – as users control free software. He developed a set of criteria for the requirements underpinning free software over the first hour of his talk, what he called the four freedoms. To Stallman, free software is a basic human right.

During the second hour, he moved through a litany of other problems with a free digital society, including surveillance, censorship, Internet services, which collect personal data, electronic voting, and the war on sharing around copyright – all of which paint a pretty grim picture of our not so free digital society. I found this to be quite stimulating since we have had decades of discussions about computer-based communication and information technologies like the Internet as ‘technologies of freedom’. It is so important for these widely accepted views to be challenged by critics as sharp as Richard Stallman.

Richard Stallman Lecture

His talk filled our large lecture hall to standing room only, and we had more people lined up for autographs of his book at the end of his two and half hours of his talk and Q&A that attend most lectures. We will post the talk online in due course.

Richard Stallman graduated from Harvard University with a bachelors degree in physics, and went on to work for the AI Lab at MIT before founding the Free Software Foundation. He has won many honors and awards, from honorary doctorates to a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. He has been a pioneer not only in free software, but also in coining the term ‘copyleft’. I had a fascinating discussion with him about Joe Weizenbaum, the author of Computer Power and Human Reason, who wrote about the ‘hackers’ in the AI lab, when the concept of the hacker was defined by their work ethic and not at all by security.

Standing Room Only

Bill Dutton

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