Author Archives: Alistair Duff

Live Interview Debate on Scotland Tonight

Alistair Duff was interviewed live last night on STV’s flagship current affairs programme, Scotland Tonight. Veteran presenter John Mackay chaired a 6-minute discussion between Duff and a sociologist from Abertay University on the issue of the limits of freedom of expression online. The debate followed the recent conviction of a Scottish man for posting material, including a performing dog, deemed offensive and racist.

This debate can be seen on YouTube at


Engagement with Population Census

The population census strand of the InGSoc project came into public play with a 15 February letter to the registrar general for Scotland from the principal investigator. Citing Killick et al.’s conference paper that found a majority of respondents opposed to the outsourcing of census operations to private companies, the letter urged the registrar not to award contracts to CACI Ltd. This company, used despite protests in the 2011 census, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of controversial US corporation CACI International. The registrar’s 15 March reply, and the subsquent furore, can be followed at investigative online platform, The Ferret.

Journal Articles Tally

It may be useful to collate here the 7 international journal articles arising out of the project. Journal articles were the principal output target of Informing the Good Society: New Directions in Information Policy (a contracted book is also underway).

Cyber-Green: idealism in the information age, Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society 13(2) 2015, pp. 146-164
The ecology of the ePundit: surveying the new opinion-making landscape First Monday 21(4) 2016 (online)
The census as an information source in public policy-making, Journal of Information Science 42(3) 2016, pp. 386–395
Contra Bentham: ethical information policy in the PanopticEon, Journal of Information Ethics 26(1) Spring 2017, pp. 93-111
Ethical ePunditry: the role of expertise in online opinion-making, Journal of Information Ethics 26(1) 2017, pp. 66-80
The fellowship of the net, International Journal of Public Theology 11(2) 2017, pp. 188-210
On political ePunditry, Journalism Studies, prepublished online

In addition, 2 conference papers have been published in open-access proceedings of the 2015 Asian Conference on Technology, Information and Society:

Inspecting the Bad Society? Bentham’s Panopticon Revisited

Power to the Population? The Population Census under Review

Radio Sputnik Interview

Radio Sputnik [formerly Radio Moscow] World Service interviewed Alistair Duff this afternoon on the topic of internet extremism. A shortened version of this 20-minute interview, conducted live by Justin White, should be available shortly from Radio Sputnik World Service, Moscow ( or via Soundcloud: see ‘The internet is just another crowded theatre’ at A full file of the interview is also available directly from Alistair Duff.

NB Please just cut and paste the links into a search engine, if they malfunction!

Sputnik radio broadcasts in 30 languages, a total of over 800 hours a day, covering over 130 cities and 34 countries.
Sputnik’s radio broadcasting formats: FM, digital DAB/DAB+, HD-Radio, mobile, Internet.

Privacy Street Forum

Staff and students will be going into the streets of Edinburgh and Glasgow with a poster and handbills to hear from the public about their privacy concerns, a topic which has loomed large in InGSoc Project research.

We will be directly asking people:

  • Do you feel your privacy is under threat?
  • What are your main concerns?
  • What do you think should be done?

Anyone who wishes to offer their genuine opinions on any of these issues is invited to write or email them to the Informing the Good Society principal investigator, Professor Alistair Duff.


i3 2017 Conference

Project PhD student Lynn Killick will be presenting at the Information: Interactions and Impact conference, Robert Gordon University, 27-30 June 2017. Her paper, developing her work on public attitudes, is entitled ‘Undermining our data: implications for trust in the population census’.

Interdisciplinary Output

Alistair Duff’s article ‘The fellowship of the net’ has been accepted for publication in the refereed theology journal, International Journal of Public Theology.


The article revisits the tradition of religious socialism as a potential resource for the information age. It begins with a detailed exposition and defence of the ideas of network society theorist Manuel Castells. However, the article questions Castells’ reliance on contemporary social movements as a response to what he calls the bipolar opposition between the net and the self. Arguing for a more universal and ontological solution, it seeks to mobilise the nineteenth-century Christian socialism of Maurice, Ludlow and Kingsley, specifically their powerful doctrine of mere brotherhood. Updated as the fellowship of the net, the brotherhood and sisterhood of humankind under the fatherhood of God turns into an attractive and plausible twenty-first century ideal.

Rotary Club Speech

‘Privacy: an endangered species?’ was the theme of Alistair Duff’s invited dinner speech at the Rotary Club of Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire, 22 March 2017. This half-hour talk was followed by a half hour of questions and comments by a lively and accomplished audience; according to the vote of thanks, it was one of the ‘most provocative’ in the club’s recent history.

Building the good society, euroia2016 conference, September 22-24, Amsterdam

Professor Alistair Duff delivered the closing keynote address at euroia2016, Europe’s largest gathering of user experience and information architecture specialists. Details at

Entitled ‘Building the Good Information Society’, the talk, in the historic Koepelkerk in the centre of Amsterdam, developed InGSoc themes of ethics, norms and policy for the information age. The keynote addressed the conference themes of ‘connectivity’ and the internet of things, articulating core priorities, such as privacy and universal access.

According to the official summary:

‘EuroIA 2016 closed with another packed day of talks, workshops, a full length design slam with Eric Reiss, Matthew Fetchko and Dorelle Rabinowitz, and a keynote from Alistair Duff.

Alistair’s thought-provoking, and quite challenging keynote was a great way to punctuate the three days; taking a wider lens to the idea of “connected things amongst us” and considering what we might adopt as the guiding principles of a good information society. Are we failing to confront the more difficult questions that come from a seamlessly connected society?’

Over 300 people, mainly private-sector professionals and consultants, attended the conference, which was sponsored by leading information companies, including MailChimp, Af83, Optimal Workshop and SapientNitro.

Feedback included:

‘Great final keynote’

‘Thank you for your performance’

‘Mind-ticking talk’


‘Will take this message on board in my future [user experience/information architecture] work’

‘Consider me inspired!’

Further details, including video, photographs and Twitter reactions to the keynote, available at