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Distinguished Lecture Jefferson Taper and the Future of Books

Speaker: Professor Robert Darnton

Series: Distinguished Lecture

Starts: 5 December 2011

Professor Robert Darnton

On Monday 5th December 2011, Professor Robert Darnton, Harvard University delivered Cardiff University’s Distinguished lecture on the subject of Jefferson’s Taper and the Future of Books to a capacity audience at the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences. Among the audience was Head of the British Library, Dame Lynne Brindley and Cardiff Honorary Distinguished Professor Rhodri Morgan, former First Minister for Wales.
A leading cultural historian who is internationally recognised for his research into books, digital scholarship and French cultural history, Professor Darnton’s lecture illuminated the campaign to create a Digital Public Library of America.
Taking Thomas Jefferson as his starting point, Professor Darnton traced the journey of the exchange of ideas, from Jefferson’s Taper to the commercialisation of the internet.
Jefferson compared the exchange of ideas to the transfer of light from one candle to another - a process in which one person gained while the other did not lose. Professor Darnton argued that although the internet seems to translate Jefferson’s ideal into a viable system of communication, commercial interests are exploiting digital technology in order to fence off large parts of our cultural commons. As a result, these commercial interests may dominate the future of books. He cited the campaign to create a Digital Public Library of America as an answer to that threat.
Professor Darnton’s lecture is part of Cardiff University’s high-profile Distinguished Lecture Series. The series brings eminent and influential guest speakers to the University and a wider audience to showcase their work.

School of Optometry and Visual Sciences

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Open To: Invitation Only