Twenty Years and Still Going Strong

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Mid-September for me each year means a trip to Cornell University and the annual Institute on Internet Culture, Policy, and Law, better known as "ICPL." While this three day-conference is a highlight for me each year, this year was a special — 2015 marked the 20th anniversary of the ICPL, and the organizers brought back some of the original thought leaders who started the institute.

The ICPL as a conference challenges me, broadens my thinking, and allows me to see things differently. Bringing together a cohort of about fifty attendees, it assembles lawyers, librarians, historians, security and/or privacy practitioners, student life professionals, and numerous higher education thought leaders. It is the one conference I attend that focuses on the impact that the Internet has on our lives and our roles, and it is also the only one where I'm not surrounded solely by security colleagues.

With a theme of "Taking Stock," the 2015 ICPL provided a sweeping glance backward at a technology that has changed history, and an in-depth exploration of the issues it has raised (and continues to raise) about privacy, security, intellectual property, international governance, online education, and more.

Founders Steve Worona and Margie Hodges-Shaw returned, together with charter members Steve McDonald, Bob Hamilton, and David Post. Their individual retrospectives of the ICPL and the last 20 years, as well as the panel Q&A afterwards, was the highlight for all who attended. Filled with history, anecdotes, some good-natured ribbing, and personal insight that only they could bring, it was a fitting tribute to what the ICPL stands for and why it has endured.

Other presentations included topics that covered copyright in the digital age, the relationship between librarians and CIOs, privacy analytics, the vanishing perimeter and social networks, federal policy, and policy and law in software development. Eclectic to be sure, but mind-blowingly relevant to be a part of, and instantly valuable for everyone present. The synergy between the cohort and presenters created an atmosphere that honored the past, while going boldly into the future together. Questions — hard questions — are not only welcome, but encouraged.

Twenty years is certainly a landmark, and something that the ICPL can be justifiably proud of. However, given the quality of the attendees, the presenters, and the content, it is clear that the ICPL remains completely relevant as it enters its third decade, providing higher education with a three-day experience that prepares us for the future of the Internet culture, policy, and law. That is something we all need to ponder, and kudos to the ICPL for driving the conversation.

David Sherry is the chief information security officer at Brown University. He has institutional responsibilities for all areas of information security and privacy and plays a key role in the records management program, regulatory compliance, and copyright law. A graduate of Providence College and Northeastern University, with certifications of CISSP and CISM, he is a frequent conference speaker on emerging security topics and best practices, as well as a guest lecturer throughout the academic year at several New England institutions.

© 2015 David Sherry. This EDUCAUSE Review blog is licensed under the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 International license.