Keynote by Lex Gill - The Web We've Always Wanted

Photo of Lex Gill

We are happy to feature two keynote presentations this year. One of them will be by Lex Gill, a researcher and advocate working at the intersection of technology, law and social change. 

From access, disinformation and security to global censorship and state surveillance, the challenges facing the digital sphere seem more intractable than ever. Forget utopia: we come up short when asked to imagine slightly better alternatives, less-than-bleak futures, ways out. It’s easy to be a pessimist in 2017.

So where do we find the courage to talk about the future?

The IT department can make for unlikely political heroes. And yet amidst calls in the United States to expand vast immigration databases this Spring, a playful and compelling set of rallying cries has emerged from Silicon Valley and beyond. Build flaws into the Death Star. Don’t write software for Mordor.

Open source advocates have always known that the tech community has a special power to imagine (and build!) the kind of world we want to live in. But as innovators, architects, curators, maintainers and guardians of the web today, it’s about time we talked about our shared responsibility to do so.

In this short talk, we take a moment to step (way) back, and reflect on the kind of web we fell in love with to begin with. What was it like? What are its values and ambitions? How did we get from there to here? Whether working in business and industry, government or civil society, this talk offers a moment to think about the web we’ve always wanted — and how to make it real.

Lex Gill is a researcher and advocate working at the intersection of technology, law and social change. She is a research fellow at The Citizen Lab, an interdisciplinary research laboratory based at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs, and a legal researcher for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA). She is a former Google Policy Fellow to the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) and a former affiliate to the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. She holds a B.C.L. / LL.B. from McGill University's Faculty of Law and is based in Montreal.