Meet the IDCC20 Speakers

Dr Francine BermanFrancine Berman

Francine Berman is the Edward P Hamilton Distinguished Professor in Computer Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and is spending this year at Harvard as the Katherine Hampson Bessell Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study. Her research and leadership have focused on data stewardship, preservation, and cyberinfrastructure, particularly with respect to the policy, practice, technical infrastructure, and community agreements needed to ensure the integrity and longevity of the data on which modern research relies.

Berman’s current work focuses on Public Interest Technology, and in particular, the social and environmental impact of the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT technologies can be used to make our lives safer, more efficient, and more convenient as well as to disrupt, exploit, bias, bully, and intrude. Berman is exploring the larger social and environmental ecosystem needed to develop an IoT that maximizes benefits, minimizes risk, and promotes individual protections, the public good, and planetary responsibility.

Berman is a co-founder of the international Research Data Alliance and former Director of the San Diego Supercomputer Center. She is a Fellow of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), IEEE, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and a member of the Board of Trustees for the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. In 2009, she was the inaugural recipient of the ACM/IEEE-CS Ken Kennedy Award for “influential leadership in the design, development, and deployment of national-scale cyberinfrastructure.” In 2015, Berman was appointed by President Obama to the National Council on the Humanities, and in 2019, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Her talk will take place on the 18th of February.

Read interview with Francine, conducted by Timea Biro

The Internet of Things: Utopia or Dystopia?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a deeply interconnected environment of devices, sensors, and smart systems, generating and exchanging a tsunami of data. IoT technologies such as self-driving cars, precision agricultural systems, and smart home environments can deliver optimization, customization, and efficiency. But IoT technologies can also be used to bias, bully, intrude, and exploit. Depending on how the IoT is developed, evolved and regulated, we can promote its utopian benefits or exacerbate its dystopian risks.

Achieving the benefits of the IoT involves interventions at the design, use and policy levels. In particular, technical innovation must be balanced with social and planetary responsibility, and individual rights and protections must be balanced with business competitiveness. In this talk, Fran Berman will explore what is needed to evolve the IoT to promote the public good, individual protections, and planetary sustainability.

Dr Sandra CollinsSandra Collins

Dr Sandra Collins is the Director of the National Library of Ireland. The NLI collects and makes available the recorded memory of Ireland, caring for more than 10 million items, including books, newspapers, manuscripts, ephemera, photographs and digital media. Sandra is originally a mathematician and has worked in digital innovation and cultural heritage over 20 years in the public and private sectors. She was previously the founding Director of the Digital Repository of Ireland in the Royal Irish Academy and a Scientific Programme Manager in the Irish funding agency Science Foundation Ireland. She is a member of the Council of the Research Data Alliance, the Irish National Open Research Forum, the Consortium of National and University Libraries in Ireland, and the Irish Government’s Expert Advisory Group for Commemorations. She has served on a number of European Commission Expert Advisory Groups including Research Infrastructures and FAIR data. She cares about culture for everyone, open data, diversity and inclusion, and tweets at @sandricollins .

Her talk will take place on the 19th of February.

Collecting and Curating the National Memory

What does it mean to collect the memory of a nation?

The National Library is a memory keeper for its country, collecting and keeping safe memories that share the culture, heritage and story of a nation. Memories can be subjective and interpretive, and keeping the authentic memory object is vital. Memory objects can be photographs, manuscripts, letters, ephemera - but contemporary memory objects are increasingly ‘born digital’ and they can be challenging to collect and keep safe as digital technologies become obsolete quickly and the quantity of digital content grows exponentially.

How we collect today will shape the national memory in the future. The National Library of Ireland is working to make a more diverse and inclusive story of Ireland, so that new voices are collected and shared with the world. Dr Sandra Collins will explore the importance of physical and digital collecting and the challenge of digital preservation, and the importance of inclusive and representative curation, motivated by the memory keeping we all do on a personal and family level.

Read interview with Sandra, conducted by Timea Biro