50 years ago the first “Internet message” was sent from a lab at UCLA.  25 years ago the commercial Internet emerged, igniting one of the most intense and disruptive periods of technological innovation in human history.  That innovation continues to disrupt academia, industry and society today.

Larry Irving is an Internet pioneer,  a member of the Internet Hall of Fame and a recipient of the American Library Association's highest honor, the James Madison Award.  He initiated the first studies identifying the “digital divide” (those who had access to technology and those who do not) and sparked a global focus on digital equity. He also was a key member of the Clinton-Gore Administration’s team that developed the first domestic and international policies governing the Internet and related industries.

Larry will discuss the evolution of the Internet from an academic exercise to the globally dominant communications and commerce platform it is today.  He will describe what the original Internet architects expected and desired and why some of those goals were realized while others have been grossly distorted.  He also will discuss the primary and pivotal role libraries, as community anchor institutions, have played in connecting communities and citizens to the Internet since the earliest days of the public Internet.

With a clear eyed view of some of the failures of Internet policies and practices, Larry also will discuss the opportunities the Internet still provides to improve lives and to bridge societal gaps, particularly as innovators perfect and harness new, emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, 5G Wireless, the Internet of Things and Voice Recognition. He also will outline his view of how libraries, and other similar community based institutions, can lead the next round of Internet innovation and can help inform local, national and international Internet policies and practices.

This lecture is part of the City of Fayetteville's Digital Inclusion discussion series and is free and open to the public.  The City is partnering with the Fayetteville Public Library to offer this series of public events on a variety of topics as part of their Digital Inclusion Plan development. 

If you are unable to attend the event in person, it will be available for viewing and replay via our FPL Livestream page at https://livestream.com/faylib.


About Larry Irving:

Larry Irving produced the first empirical study proving the existence of the “Digital Divide.” This groundbreaking research sparked global efforts to begin bridging the divide and continues to be widely cited today by those studying Internet access around the world. 

As the assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information and administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) during the Clinton Administration, Irving helped establish some of the earliest and most foundational U.S. domestic and international Internet policies, including those supporting universal Internet access, private investment, competition, open access and “light touch” regulation.  Irving is the president and CEO of the Irving Group, a consulting firm providing strategic advice and assistance to international telecommunications and information technology companies, foundations and non-profit organizations. From 2009 to 2011, he also served as vice president for global government affairs for the Hewlett-Packard Company, at the time the world’s largest technology company. He also was a member of the Obama-Biden Transition Project’s technology team.

Irving is a graduate of Northwestern University where he is president-elect of the University’s Alumni Association and serves on the University’s Board of Trustees, and Stanford Law School where he was elected president of his graduating class and currently serves on the Board of Visitors.  He is also a member of the boards of directors of Education Networks of America, ReliabilityFirst and the Texas Tribune.

In September, 2019, Irving was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame for his work identifying and advocating solutions to the “Digital Divide.” He is the first African American elected to the Internet Hall of Fame.