A University of Maryland program in partnership with The Phillips Collection was held on June 6, 2017 to explore the frontiers of virtual reality, augmented reality and immersive storytelling. Three speakers working at the forefront of innovation in these areas discussed how these cutting-edge platforms are being used in fields as diverse and journalism, education, defense and the arts and are serving as engines of empathy and windows into our cultural and environmental heritage.

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The FIA Innovation Spark Grant Competition winners presented their final presentations on May 5, 2017. Members of the four winning teams were named FIA Innovation Fellows and shared up to $10,000 per team in stipends and expenses to carry out their projects aimed at using virtual and augmented reality to address real-world challenges.

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The winning teams, whose members have been named FIA Innovation Fellows, will share in up to $10,000 per team in stipends and expenses to carry out projects aimed at using virtual and augmented reality to address real-world challenges. Altogether, these four teams include 16 students and 5 faculty mentors from 8 UMD colleges and schools. The teams plan to consult with several FIA and outside partners during the course of their work.

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A panel discussion celebrating the future of information was held on July 8, 2016 at the Harpers Ferry Design Center (HFC) to honor Don Kodak as he steps down from 10 years of leadership at HFC. Over the past 4 years, Don has been an active member of the Future of Information Alliance, helping to host meetings, collaborating with colleagues at the University of Maryland, the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, the Newseum, and more. A few of these colleagues joined the discussion to explore issues, challenges, and opportunities of the future of information.

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The Wikid GRRLs project began with an article in the New York Times in 2011 on Wikipedia’s gender gap, reporting that less than 15 percent of the contributors to the online encyclopedia are women. The seed that FIA sowed with Wikid GRRLs more than three years ago has blossomed into a fruit that has benefited more than 65 (overwhelmingly minority) girls, nine undergraduate students, three graduate students and three faculty members.

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Dan Russell — Google’s “director of user happiness” and FIA’s Future-ist in Residence — taught a workshop on how to become a power search user and continue down the path of being a lifelong learner.

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Three future-ists discussed the future of virtual reality and innovative imagery: Graham Roberts, Senior Editor at The New York Times; Dan Russell, Google’s Director of User Happiness; and Amitabh Varshney, Director of the University of Maryland’s Institute for Advanced Computer Studies. Leslie Walker, the Visiting Professor in Digital Innovation at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism moderated the discussion.

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A two-year, $517,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will fund a project called “Documenting the Now: Supporting Scholarly Use and Preservation of Social Media Content.” Washington University in St. Louis, the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) at the University of Maryland and the University of California, Riverside, are collaborators on the project.

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National Digital Stewardship Resident Jessica Tieman is helping the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) prepare to become the first Federal agency to be certified under ISO 16363, the Trusted Digital Repository Checklist (TDR).

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The Wikid GRRLS project teaches girls online skills for knowledge projects. It has been found that the use of computers in school can offset the “digital divide” but various factors play a role in how effective schools can be at ameliorating the divide. Depending on what skills are emphasized, it may be that some students know how to use some computer functions, but they do not know how to problem solve and use the computer in a holistic sense. Exploring what it means to know how to use a computer in a holistic sense is a possible area of future study for Wikid GRLLS.

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