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Sci-fi author, technology activist Cory Doctorow will speak Feb. 9 at NIU, join in open dialogue

January 31, 2012
Cory Doctorow

Cory Doctorow

From Google’s “black bar” to Wikipedia’s blackout, large Internet entities are mobilizing like never before to protect freedom of information online.

These protests come in response to the U.S. government’s attempts to enforce copyright laws and prevent piracy on the web.

Who do the proposed laws really protect and what are the ramifications of tighter control on what you can and can’t watch, listen to, or post online?

On Thursday, Feb. 9, popular science-fiction author, technology activist and blogger Cory Doctorow is visiting NIU’s campus to discuss his book “Little Brother” and participate in an open dialogue about both freedom of information and government controls in an age of terrorism.

Doctorow is the co-editor of the popular weblog Boing Boing, and a contributor to The Guardian, the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, Wired and many other newspapers, magazines and websites.

He was formerly director of European Affairs for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit civil liberties group that defends freedom in technology law, policy, standards and treaties. He is a visiting senior lecturer at Open University (UK) and Scholar in Virtual Residence at the University of Waterloo (Canada).

More information on Doctorow is available at his website,

Doctorow is also the author of several novels, including “For the Win” and “Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom.” His best-selling book “Little Brother” focuses on a group of tech-savvy teens who are held as suspected terrorists after an attack is perpetrated on San Francisco. When the teens are released, they hack their Xboxes to access the Internet without being tracked and begin protesting the government’s attempts to strip them of their civil liberties.

The novel raises interesting questions about whether American citizens should sacrifice personal freedoms for national security and whether it is ethical to participate in hacking as a form of social protest.

At noon Thursday, Feb. 9, Doctorow will give a presentation in the Carl Sandburg Auditorium of the Holmes Student Center and participate in a Q&A session.

At 1 p.m., he will be joined by an interdisciplinary panel of NIU experts, including Marc Falkoff (College of Law), David Gunkel (Department of Communications), Sharon Smaldino (Department of Educational Technology, Research, and Assessment), Jack King (CLAS Department of Sociology) and Steve Prosser (U.S. Marshals Service), who will continue the conversation.

This free, public event is presented by NIU STEM Outreach and the Friends of the NIU Libraries.

University faculty, students, staff and the general public are invited to attend the talks live or stream them online. The talks will also be attended by more than 200 high school students from across the region who will be on campus for interactive learning activities related to the science and technology of “Little Brother.”

For additional information on this event, visit or contact Gillian King-Cargile at (815) 753-6784 or [email protected].