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Fisher to Celebrate National Philosophy Day with a Digital Twist


Fisher to Celebrate National Philosophy Day with a Digital Twist

St. John Fisher College will celebrate National Philosophy Day on Thursday, November 21, but this time, organizers have added a digital twist. This year, the program will revolve around Digital Philosophy, with speakers from Fisher along with several area colleges. All sessions will be held in the Golisano Gateway Midlevel.

Philosophy Day, sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Culture Organization (UNESCO), and held on the purported birthday of Socrates, is observed throughout the world as an occasion for people to reflect upon the importance of critical thinking, world peace, international cooperation, and the love of wisdom. Fisher’s Digital Philosophy Day will feature three keynote speakers, along with several panel sessions.

The opening session will begin at 8:00 a.m., featuring Dr. Evan Selinger, Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy, Rochester Institute of Technology. He will present, “Etiquette as Ethical Subversion.” Although the causalities are more barbs than bodies, smart phones and other communication technologies have ignited an etiquette war. Selinger will discuss why people feel so strongly about etiquette violations and attempts to remedy them. He argues that, at bottom, etiquette is best understood as the currency of care. By subverting the forces promoting apathy and selfishness, its gestures make the social contract visible, and perhaps viable, as well. Selinger received his Ph.D. in Philosophy at Stony Brook University in 2003. His research covers a range of issues in the philosophies of technology and expertise.

The lunchtime keynote speaker is Brian Steblen, Director/Cinematographer, DeBergerac Productions. His talk is entitled “Han Shot First – How George Lucas Ruined my Childhood: Director’s Cuts and Narrative Reversal.” DeBergerac Productions is a full-service video production and post-production company located in Fairport. Steblen has over 20 years of film and video experience.

And the evening keynote will feature Dr. Bob Logan, Emeritus Professor in Physics at the University of Toronto. Logan’s talk, “McLuhan Misunderstood: Setting the Record Straight,” will explore the hypothesis that what was unique about McLuhan’s scholarship can be attributed to three major causes: his love of art and literature; the influence of Harold Innis; and his avid interest in science including its methods, and in particular the concepts of the electric field, quantum mechanics, Einsteinian relativity and ecology. He will also talk about how those three influences led to his development of five major tools or perspectives in the way he dealt with media, including: observation and exploration rather than theory; a focus on precepts rather than concepts; the reversal of cause and effect; a concentration on the ground rather than the figure, i.e. the medium rather than its content; and the use of the field concept. Logan is also a Fellow of St. Michael's College, and collaborated and published with Marshall McLuhan from 1974 to 1980. He is the author or editor of 12 books and numerous papers.

Panel sessions will take place throughout the day, featuring speakers from a variety of colleges. All panelists will present a portion of a paper they have authored, and the panel will then open up to discussion and Q&A. The schedule is as follows:

8:00 a.m. - Morning Keynote: Dr. Evan Selinger

9:30 a.m. – Videogames and Culture

  • Dr. Rob Rice (Mental Health Counseling) – “Virtually Speaking: Psychotherapy in the Videogame Era”
  • Joe Loporcaro (Digital Cultures and Technologies, Media and Communication, Computer Science) – “A Critique of Anita Sarkeesian’s Video Game Tropes vs. Women”
  • Dr. Barb Lowe (Philosophy and Associate Dean, School of Arts and Sciences) – “Anita Sarkeesian’s Video Game”
  • Dr. Jim Moran (Philosophy and Religious Studies, Daemen College) – “Plato’s Cave and Video Games”

11:00 a.m. – Digitized Politics

  • Dr. Wes Renfro (Political Science) – “Boots in the Cloud: The Digital Revolution in Military Affairs”
  • Dr. Jill Swiencicki (English) – “Free Speech Student Activism on the Web: 9/11 and the Case of Florida Gulf Coast University”
  • Dr. Jim Bowman (English) – “Mover and Menace: Effects of Social Media in Turkey’s Gezi Park Protests”
  • Fr. Bill Graf (Religious Studies) – “Digital Ethics, A Case Study: Edward Snowden”

12:30 p.m. - Lunch Keynote: Brian Steblen

1:45 p.m. – A Sense of Place

  • Dr. Denice Szafran (Anthropology, SUNY Geneseo) – “Where Do You Go When You Go Online?”
  • Dr. Derek Harrison (Philosophy) – “A Postcard from Paris: Virtual Travel in the Digital Age”
  • Dana Paxon (Independent Scholar) – “Brain-Universe Mapping”
  • Dr. Linda MacCammon (Religious Studies) – “The Value of Privacy in the Internet Age”

3:10 p.m. – Databases and Information

  • Dr. Wendi Sierra (English, DCT) – “Sensing the World: Wearable Technologies and Embodiment”
  • Dr. Bruce Blaine (Statistics) and Kyle Howatt ’13 – “Analysis and Inference Issues in the Quantified Self Movement”
  • Ben Hockenberry (Lavery Library)– “The Guerilla Open Access Manifesto: Aaron Swartz, Open Access and the Sharing Imperative”
  • Dr. Dougie Bicket (Media and Communication)– “Bradley Manning, the Security State and the Information Age”

4:35 p.m. – Social Media Lightning Round

  • Dr. Jack Rosenberry (Media and Communication) – “Who Said That? Anonymity and Incivility in Cyberspace”
  • Dr. Clair Smith (Economics) – “The Economics of Cooperation”
  • Jeremy Sarachan (DCT, Media and Communication) – “Fanvids in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction: Reconsidering the Aura and Truth on the Eve of Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary”
  • Dr. Tim Madigan (Philosophy, Irish Studies) – “Aristotle’s Email: Friendship in the Age of Facebook”
  • Julie Gelfand (Media and Communication) – “Hummingbird Rising, the Tiny Voices of Change”

6:30 p.m. - Evening Keynote: Dr. Bob Logan (shown in photo)

All sessions are free and open to the public. Participants will be tweeting live from the event throughout the day using #philodaysjfc. For more information about Philosophy Day at St. John Fisher College, please contact Dr. Tim Madigan at or Jeremy Sarachan at

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