Keynote Speakers – OLA 2011

The all-conference plenary speaker Thursday afternoon was Michael Wesch, a cultural anthropologist exploring the effects of new media on society and culture. (

Michael Wesch has achieved some fame with wonderful YouTube videos (he even constructed a video on-the-fly during his presentation). He leads a working group at Kansas State University for “digital ethnography” —

“The Machine is Us/ing Us” describes Web 2.0 in just under 5 minutes:

By Michael Wesch; made using CamStudio and Sony Vegas








Wesch also spoke about education, and how the new media technologies are inspiring young people to change the world. Isn’t that what educators and librarians have always wanted to impart to young people? The skills that will allow young people to make a positive contribution and change the world for the better…

Created by Michael Wesch with 200 students at Kansas State University.








Students love to learn, but feel disconnected from the institutions that provide them with learning opportunities. “Being human is all about learning” and the new social media tools can play a part in getting students to do great learning, and be inspired to use those same tools for social change.

At the beginning of his talk, Michael Wesch spoke of his immersion in Papua New Guinea, and how wrenching that experience was. He felt his identity completely stripped away in a culture with a different language and different values and different required life skills.

I attended the Friday morning keynote presentation by Anna Porter, a publisher and writer ( She began her talk with the sad news of the bankruptcy of the publishing company she had founded (and left five years ago)—Key Porter Books (

Porter regaled the audience with her stories about Jack McClelland, Farley Mowat, Margaret Laurence, and W.O. Mitchell. People in her business do not make a lot of money, she said, but life is extraordinary when you’re surrounded by the world of books. Famous Canadian authors were a part of her life, and many told stories to her children.

In more recent years, Porter has written mystery novels and two works of nonfiction about central Europe, The Ghosts of Europe, and, Kasztner’s Train.

GhostsofEurope_150 The Ghosts of Europe

KasztnersTrain_150 Kasztner’s Train

The Friday all-conference plenary speaker was filmmaker Atom Egoyan.

Photo I took with my Samsung Focus phone at the conference of Atom Egoyan speaking:


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