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March 16, 2005

Derrick DeKerckhove to Discuss the Role of Electricity in Contemporary Life on March 31

Derrick DeKerckhove, holder of the Papamarkou Chair in Education and Technology at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, presents "I Sing the Body Electric," at 4 p.m. on Thursday, March 31, in Room 119 of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C.

DeKerckhove believes that because electricity is everywhere, both inside and outside the human body, it has become the ground and the support system of the global culture. Since its earliest applications, electricity has gone through three main phases: analog (light, heat, energy), digital (data, information, knowledge) and now wireless ("always on," ubiquitous, mind-like).

DeKerckhove contends that the next phase, now being explored with quantum computing and other technologies, may actually result in "real wisdom." Each phase is characterized by a specific set of biases, exclusive to electricity, that have profound but unconscious impacts on culture, and DeKerckhove will discuss these in his presentation. His presentation is based on independent work conducted at the Library of Congress and from the Library’s recent lecture series on "Managing Knowledge and Creativity in a Digital Context," which featured some of the best-known experts in digitally networked communications.

Besides holding the Papamarkou Chair at the Kluge Center, DeKerckhove is director of the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology and professor in the Department of French at the University of Toronto. He worked with Marshall McLuhan for more than 10 years as a translator, assistant and co-author. His most recent book, "McLuhan for Managers: New Tools for New Thinking," was published in 2003. Other books he has edited or written are "Understanding 1984," "The Alphabet and the Brain," "La Civilisation Vidéo-Chrétienne," "Brainframes: Technology, Mind and Business," "The Skin of Culture" and "Connected Intelligence." He was decorated by the government of France with the order of "Les Palmes Académiques" and has been a member of the Club of Rome since 1995. DeKerckhove, along with Deanna Marcum, associate librarian for Library Services, was responsible for organizing the lecture series on "Managing Knowledge and Creativity in a Digital Context," which has aired on C-Span since Nov. 15, 2004.

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world’s best thinkers to stimulate and energize scholarly discussion, distill wisdom from the Library’s rich resources and interact with policymakers in Washington. For more information about any of the fellowships, grants and programs offered by the John W. Kluge Center, contact the Office of Scholarly Programs, Library of Congress, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. 20540-4860, telephone (202) 707-3302, fax (202) 707-3595 or visit the Web at

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PR 05-067
ISSN 0731-3527

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