At a standing-room only event, the Trent community was inspired by the forward-looking wisdom of chancellor Dr. Don Tapscott ’66 as he was interviewed by Leanpub co-founder Dr. Len Epp for the 2018 Chancellor’s Lecture.
The talk, titled “Towards a new social contract for the digital age,” delved into the technological divide that exists along generational lines. Dr. Tapscott referred to this not as a “generation gap” but instead what he termed “a ‘generation lap,’ where kids are lapping their parents on the digital track,” explaining that for the first time in history, young people are the experts on a subject reshaping our world.
“Today the 11-year-old at the breakfast table is an authority on this technology that is changing every institution in society,” said Dr. Tapscott. “I used to think that new media is going to be amazing, that the internet would bring us together because we’ll all have access to the truth.”
He also imagined, however, that we could end up in “self-reinforcing echo chambers,” where information wouldn’t inform us, but only give us comfort in our own preconceived points of view.
In the interview-style lecture, Dr. Tapscott went on to discuss the role technology will play in the creation of a new social contract: from building a social safety net; to dealing with climate change; to disrupting the labour market; to how blockchain has the potential to shape the ownership over our digital identities.
“Twenty-five students from my media class attended and were held enthrall by Len and Don, so much so, that they mobbed both speakers afterwards, and used quotations from the event in their final assignments and on the exam,” said Dr. Stephen Brown, professor of English Literature at Trent. “It was wonderful to have two natural teachers like Don and Len inspire our students.”