The Future of the Past with the FIA

My first introduction to the Future of Information Alliance came last spring at the Seed Grant presentations at University of Maryland, College Park. Then just a month or so later I had the pleasure of attending The Big Picture of Big Data in Annapolis followed by a reception in Governor O’Malley’s home.

The FIA is dedicated to helping us understand and appreciate the possibilities of the ever-evolving technology world and how, when interpreted properly and effectively, information can be used for the greater good.

From December 2nd through December 6th, the FIA held a series of events in Baltimore, College Park and Washington DC called The Future of the Past. Dedicated to understanding and preserving our cultural heritage, the events featured panel discussions with various industry professionals ranging from educators and historians to anthropologists and archaeologists.

On Monday December 2nd, many gathered at Fort McHenry for Engaging with History: Keeping the Stories Alive and Lively, a discussion on “the value of place-based learning and virtual tools for engaging students and their teachers with history.” The event featured a panel that included Burt Kummerow of the Maryland Historical Society, Amy Rosenkrans of Baltimore City Public Schools, Stephanie Toothman of the National Park Service. Dan Russell, Visiting Futurist and Google’s “director of user happiness” served as moderator.

On Wednesday December 4th, WAMU 88.5 did a special broadcast of the Kojo Knamdi Show from the National Geographic Society’s Grosvenor Auditorium called Lost and Found: Exploration in the Digital Age. The first hour featured archaeologists and oceanographers including Sarah Parcak, Katy Croff Bell and Fredrik Hiebert. In the second hour, Knamdi interviewed three thought leaders from the Smithsonian Institution: G. Wayne Clough, Nick Pyenson and Günter Waibel.

The third event on December 5th, The Future of the Digital Present: Archiving the Ephemera of the Information Age, was held at the Newseum in Washington, DC and the panelists were the aforementioned Dan Russell, Howard Besser, a digital preservation pioneer, Paul Sparrow, Senior Vice President for Broadcasting and New Media and Anne Wootton, the co-founder of Pop Up Archive. The program explored the “challenges associated with the rapid expansion of content across all forms of media.”

The final day, Friday December 6th, brought the FIA partners together to reflect on the week’s events and discuss, with the audience, ways to enhance the “future of the past through interdisciplinary research and action.”

The FIA has uploaded full videos of all the week’s events on their website, so check them out. Embedded below is a highlight video from the week of The Future of the Past events.

The Future of Information Alliance will continue to facilitate important conversations about interpreting the present and future information revolution so stay tuned for more, including updates on the Seed Grant presentations in the spring.


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