Exploring Technology’s Impact on Politics, Government, and Advocacy: Get a Discount to #PDF11
Daniel Teweles, a Movements.org Ambassador, was formerly the National Student Coordinator for STAND, one of the world's largest youth activist organizations and the student-led division of the Genocide Intervention Network, and the Vice President of Business Development at the Personal Democracy Forum.
Too often, the discussion of technology and politics employs a kind of lazy shorthand. We say things like “The internet is revolutionizing politics,” or “the internet is helping dictators,” as if a set of network protocols and bits and wires could do anything on its own. Unfortunately, that shorthand often infects our discussion of current events, and we end up debating things like “Twitter Revolution” or “Facebook effect” rather than the real issues, which are what people do with these tools. The internet, after all, doesn’t empower anyone. We empower ourselves.
This is somethiing that I am all the more acquainted with after spending a year working at Personal Democracy Forum (PdF), the world's leading convener at the intersection of technology, politics, government, and advocacy. That's why I am excited to call your attention to PdF 2011, taking place in New York City June 6-7, where this year’s theme will be “Agents of Change.” The event will explore what happens when the technology itself starts to fade into the background, and what becomes most important is all the new uses people come up with, as well as the policy changes that we may need in order to make such activity safe and productive. To tackle these big questions, we’ve assembled a sterling roster of experts, practitioners, and all around rock stars.
The past months have witnessed countless conferences and symposia addressing the wave of recent revolutions and movements in the Arab world, often including the token Arab activist. PdF '11 is going to take a stab at tackling this subject in a major way, as we're flying in a critical mass of movement leaders, advisors, instigators, bloggers, journalists, and technologists from the region, and pairing them with our country's brightest minds and movement leaders. They'll look at how people in the Arab world have built an alternative, less-controlled and more democratic culture online, and how being hyperconnected has changed the course of history. Here's a tease of some of the deep dive breakout sessions:
- The Revolution in Tunisia, with Houeida Anouar and Riadh Guerfali (aka "Astrubal") (the former an open government/open data activist; the latter one of the three co-founders of the Nawaat.org group blog and the person behind its many innovative tech mashups);
- The Revolution in Egypt, with Alaa abd el Fattah (longtime blogger and political activist), Rasha Abdulla (internet activism expert), Mona Eltahawy (journalist and commentator) with Nancy Scola (moderator);
And beyond the Arab spring (not that great of a name when you think about it), there'll be some great sessions that speak directly to Movements.org's audience, including:
- Technology Development for Human Rights Work, with Brett Solomon(founder of Access Now), Nathan Frietas (of the Guardian Project), Jillian York (of the Electronic Frontier Foundation) and our own Susannah Vila;
- Newsing the Live Web, a look at how journalists are adapting to the real-time stream of information, with Andy Carvin (social media guru for NPR), Peter McEvoy (of ABC Australia's QandA live news show), Brian Stelter (of the New York Times), Dan Sinker (of @mayoremanuel fame) and Jennifer 8 Lee (consultant to the Knight Foundation, and moderator);
- Moving Beyond Clicktivism: From Online Enthusiasm to Off-line Action, with Ori Brafman (co-author of The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations), Marianne Manilov (co-founder of the Engage Network), Jenny Beth Martin (of the Tea Party Patriots) and Michael Silberman (of EchoDitto, moderator);
- Using Open Collaboration Platforms, with Jim Gilliam (the maker of the NationBuilder platform) and Martin Avila (the maker of the Freedom Connects platform);
Conferences can be great, and PdF '11 will be awesome, but I realize how difficult they can be to attend given the cost. Thus, PdF is happily extending a significant discount to the AYM community. Just email me via daniel [at] personaldemocracy [dot] com to make it happen. Whether you can attend in person, or watch the livestream online, I hope you're able to take advantage of PdF '11 and contribute to the conversation.