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Public lecture will explore consequences of web on truth and knowledge

November 20, 2006

Source: University of Waterloo

The author of the most comprehensive study ever undertaken on Canada's strengths in science and technology will explain how the web has impacted what people know versus what they think they know during a lecture at the University of Waterloo.

Peter J. Nicholson, first head of the newly formed Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) and author of the recently released report The State of Science & Technology in Canada, will deliver a talk in the Accelerator Centre at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 29. His talk is entitled The Expert vs. The Crowd: Networked Knowledge and the Evolution of Intellectual Authority.

"The web has democratized access to information and led to such innovations as social networking and massive collaborations. Just think of Wikipedia and rating systems on sites like Amazon or Google," said David Fransen, executive director of the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC). "The nature of what counts as knowledge, truth and expert opinion is changing. Dr. Nicholson will ask: 'What are the consequences?' "

Nicholson was appointed as inaugural president and chief executive officer of the CCA in February 2006. He is a Member of the Order of Canada, awarded in recognition of his contribution to business through both the public and private sectors.

Nicholson has held numerous private and public sector positions, including senior vice-president of the Bank of Nova Scotia, Clifford Clark Visiting Economist in the federal Department of Finance, chief strategy officer of Bell Canada Enterprises Inc., special adviser to the secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, and deputy chief of staff for policy in the Office of the Prime Minister.

The mission of the CCA is to provide independent, expert assessments of the science underlying important matters of public interest and provide a voice for Canada on behalf of the sciences, both nationally and internationally.

The State of Science & Technology in Canada was prepared at the request of the federal government. It explores Canada's strengths in order to set the context for the government's consideration of policy. Findings from the report, which was released in September, are available at

"Dr. Nicholson has a broad understanding of the positive and negative impacts of emerging technologies," said Iain Klugman, CEO of Communitech. "Communitech is pleased to help bring him to Waterloo Region and we look forwarded to hearing the insights he has to offer on the web and the creation of knowledge."

This event is being organized by IQC ( and UW (, in partnership with Communitech (

To register, please email ljhowe at by Monday, Nov. 27.



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