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Woodstock Festival Highlights Digital Media

Woodstock — Topics that range from preventing global atrocities to government accountability, from science and storytelling to getting out into the woods are among the presentations slated for this year’s Woodstock Digital Media Festival.

Experts from across the country will be speaking at the festival, set for Nov. 1, addressing some of the ways digital media is making worldwide social, civic and cultural changes, organizer David McGowan said last week.

In its third year, the festival is designed to bring together people from such diverse areas as art, business and the nonprofit sector under the common link of digital media.

“This is not a how-to digital media event,” McGowan said. “What we’re trying to create is a program that gives everyone a sense of where we are and what can be done. It should appeal to audiences who not only have an interest in digital media, but also those who are just interested in the topic areas.”

For example, one of the presentations could interest people who care about preserving history — from professional and local historians to someone who has a trove of family photographs she wants to preserve.

“We’re bringing together people from all over the country with diverse interests and expertise and putting them together in a beautiful place, a special environment, with wonderful venues for talks and presentations. I think it’s going to create an atmosphere that makes this event unique and different,” McGowan said.

McGowan has lived part-time in Woodstock since 2008 and now lives in London and works in Budapest, Hungary. In 2011, he and a group of friends started the privately funded weekend festival, which drew people from Boston and New York City, as well as Vermont and New Hampshire.

Attendance doubled in 2012, and this year the event was moved to a Friday and changed to a day-long affair with a more focused program, McGowan said. “Although we’re changing, it already looks like we’ll have a good turnout.”

The festival is free and open to the public and features presentations, discussions and hands-on workshops.

Events run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in venues in central Woodstock, including the Woodstock Inn and Resort and the Norman Williams Public Library.

Those wishing to attend can register at http://woodstockdigital.com/2013. Anyone who registers before Oct. 28 will receive a free box lunch prepared by the Woodstock Farmers’ Market.

Presentations and talks are scheduled to be 30 to 60 minutes in length, with the schedule designed to encourage attendance of the full program. Workshops will be scheduled concurrently, allowing for attendees to pursue areas and presenters of specific interest.

Presentations include:

Speaker Jon Voss of Historypin is presenting “Local History Goes Global.” The World Wide Web provides the cultural, technological and legal frameworks to open the doors of innovation and imagination, and also enables libraries, archives and museums the world over to play a critical role.

Eddie Tejeda of Civic insight presents “Code for America.” Open Data can play a role in bringing city officials, residents, and local institutions together to bring positive, real changes to how cities are run.

Stuart Lynn of Zooniverse and the Adler Planetarium and Yasser Ansari of Project Noah present “Citizen Science.” The world of science is being transformed by the participation of ordinary people with a passion for discovery and exploration.

Ben Vershbow, the founder and director of the digital innovation team at the New York Public Library, will talk about his group’s recent experiments in digitization, data mining and community engagement around historical collections.

Gabriel Dance of The Guardian and Wesley Lindamood of National Public Radio will focus some of the work being done by news organizations who have been especially innovative in their use of digital media to enhance meaning.

David Tyler of Green Mountain Digital and Yonder will discuss if an app inspire and enable a love for nature and the outdoors. Tyler will give insight into the creation and early usage of the new Yonder app.

Lorie Loeb of Digital Arts Leadership and Innovaton Lab at Dartmouth College will talk about the DALI Lab’s work with the Holocaust Museum to create a tool to help policy makers and human rights groups set policies that will reduce the risk of mass atrocities around the world.

∎ Two panel discussions moderated by Lars Torres director of Vermont Office of the Creative Economy and featuring some of Vermont’s digital leaders explore Vermont’s as a laboratory for public interest innovation, and the role the state’s education and civic institutions need to play.

Warren Johnston can be reached at wjohnston@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.