The University Record, April 15, 1998

May symposium commemorates 50th anniversary of Marshall Plan

By Mary Jean Babic
Office of University Relations

Chances are, you've used e-mail today. Maybe you're teaching a course via the Internet. Perhaps you've bought a book, blender or airline ticket from a virtual store.

Remember how different it was 10 years ago? Can you imagine 10 years from now? The information technology revolution affects us all, and in ways far more profound than hopping online to see how the Pistons did last night. Businesses are trying to tap into the Web market. Cyberlaw is a fast-growing legal arena. Anyone with a modem and an opinion becomes a publisher. And the academy searches for theoretical and practical implications of this profound societal shift.

Grappling with those sorts of issues is something Regent Philip Power does on a daily basis as a newspaper publisher. Because the issues have international implications, Power last year conceived the idea of a symposium on "The Information Revolution in Mid-Stream: An Anglo-American Perspective."

Power, a 1962-64 Marshall Scholar, wanted to do something to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Marshall Plan and honor the Marshall Scholarships.

As a gesture of gratitude for post-war aid received under the Marshall Plan, the British government established the Marshall Scholarships in 1953. They enable American students to study at any British university for two years.

The "Anglo-American" part of the May 29-30 symposium's title reflects the close involvement of British experts and officials in planning the event, and each of the programs panel discussions includes at least one Marshall Scholar.

"Taken together, the speakers and panelists at this symposium make up the most distinguished group of experts in the world on the subject of the information revolution," Power says.

Two keynote speakers will open the symposium at 4 p.m. May 29 in the Rackham Building: Vinton Cerf, often referred to as "the father of the Internet," who now is senior vice president of information architecture and engineering at MCI, and Douglas E. Van Houweling, former vice provost for information technology and now CEO of the Internet 2 project, headquartered in Ann Arbor. Through Internet 2, researchers at more than 100 universities and three dozen corporations are developing the next generation of the Internet.

Their presentations will be followed by technology demonstrations.

Panel discussions on May 30 at the Power Center for the Performing Arts will explore the growing influence of information technology on business, the law, the academy and the media. The day will begin with an 8:30 a.m. address by Roger Needham, a Cambridge University professor and the leading British information technology expert, whose research is funded primarily by Microsoft.

Other panelists include:

 

President Lee C. Bollinger, a prominent First Amendment scholar.

John Seely Brown, director of Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center, which invented, among other now-familiar concepts, the computer mouse, the laser writer and the "graphic computer interface"--windows and pull-down menus that free us from the land of DOS. Brown's research interests include "ubiquitous computing," tiny computers tucked in clothes, wallets and furniture.

Esther Dyson, whom many consider to be the most influential woman in the computer industry. Her newsletter, Release 1.0, is a must-read for the top minds in the field. She recently wrote the book, Release 2.0: A Design for Living in the Digital Age.

Larry Lessig, a Harvard University law professor who became a central figure in the federal government's anti-trust lawsuit against Microsoft last year when the court appointed him to serve as adviser.

In addition to Needham, prominent British experts who will serve as speakers and panelists include Roger Bannister, a neurologist and former member of the British Marshall Commission. Bannister is probably best known for breaking the four-minute mile in 1954.

For more information on the free, public symposium, visit the Web at http://www.si.umich.edu/Marshall /, call 647-6062, or send a message to Marshall. Symposium@umich.edu.