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Personal Democracy Forum

hobson's picture

The Personal Democracy Forum just concluded it's yearly conference on technology and politics in New York. You can find it here. I happened to attend two or three years ago (thanks to my sister footing the entry fee) but was slightly humiliated because I was obviously the only person there without a cell phone. And almost the only one without a laptop. I was unable to communicate with anyone. The highlight for me then was the appearance of Elizabeth Edwards. She, as much as anything else, made me an Edwards supporter.

I haven't been back since. The entry fee for the event is more than double what it was leading me to wonder how much democracy there is in it when it costs almost $700.00.

Elizabeth Edwards was supposed to attend this year but was prevented by bad weather. So she got on her computer and appeared online via skype. There is a description of her appearance on the N Y Times political blog. I found this paragraph interesting:

Mrs. Edwards said she had given her word to Mrs. Clinton, whose call for universal health care she supported, that she would not endorse Mr. Obama, as her husband had. But she is now part of Mr. Obama’s health care committee and is pressing for true universal coverage. She said she hopes Mr. Obama uses his political capital and his extensive e-mail list to achieve it.

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Submitted by gob on

there's a lot of happy talk, as is inevitable, and the $700 is indeed quite a barrier. There's also some more sober talk, at least this from Matt Leighninger:

Without attending to the other elements of successful democratic governance – recruitment, deliberation, facilitation, action planning, etc. – the democratic impact of the new technology may be positive but limited.

Making politics more “open” is a terrific priority – but if that’s all you do, then you’ll just be making a space for yourselves at the political table and not welcoming in the people with less time, less education, less confidence, less faith in government and community, and/or a lower level of technological skills. It is a pattern repeated often in American history: one group gets into the smoke-filled room, then closes the door on the others following behind.

Honorable and level-headed. Is anyone listening?

I wonder, too, if there was any discussion of our recent online hate mob. Could that have happened without our wonderful technology?

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

I wonder, too, if there was any discussion of our recent online hate mob. Could that have happened without our wonderful technology?

the digital mob is a real barrier to entry for those who are alienated and low income.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

Internet for Everyone

and wasn't some private group taking over the Philly public broadband thing? We need that in every city--but not private--maybe a fee when you purchase any wifi-enabled device or something?

I'd love to go to one of these things or TED or something--but it'd be better if they actually gave out grants or started programs right then and there using the attendance fees collected (Clinton's Global Conf. thing does that, i think)

Submitted by lambert on

Obviously, there should be municipal WiFi -- a public utility. That would solve a lot of problems with the telcos....

[x] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by cg.eye on

And, net neutrality.

If the fuckwipes who control our pipes become the electronic arms of the permanent government, we'll never see universal broadband as an utility in our lifetimes.

They bribed to get deregulated; they stomped on the Constitution, to get in good with their administration partners; now they'll reap the rewards of never being challenged for their market-mauling tactics by anyone they have to pay attention to.

Wiretaps go both ways; a lobbyist concerned about a citizen activist could easily get a homeland security pal to designate that person a terroristic threat, and that person's life of freedom would be over.