16 May 2005

At the Personal Democracy Forum

So here I am at the Personal Democracy Forum, sitting in the auditorium, listening to the first presentations. Andrew Rasiej started with a great speech, I’ll need to remember to get a copy of that at some point. We then had Scott Heiferman, and then Mindy Finn from the GOP. I’ll try to keep notes online from this point on. I’m able to do this because they have wireless in the building. One of the most interesting parts is the chat room that people in the room are using in the background.

I’m a bit tired, as I got on the plane at 10:00pm West Coast, and now it is 9:03 NY time. I have had almost no sleep, since the airplane was about the most uncomfortable place I could have imagined for sleeping. I almost just put my head on the shoulder of the guy next to me (I was in the middle seat in the middle isle of a 767), just so I could get a few minutes. Then many trains and a few blocks of walking, and now I’m blogging from the auditorium. Maybe I can find a back room somewhere with a bench at some point. :)

I’ll keep everyone up to date on whats going on here – and I’m trying to take a few pictures and audio, too. I won’t be able to upload them until I get home, though – I don’t have the cables.


Tag :

Updates : - 12:25pm - I fixed the NYC time from 7:03 to 9:03, since apparently the Mac doesn’t update the time, and my body now has no concept of time. I am now at a forum with Kos, Hugh Hewitt, Carol Darr, Josh Marshall, and Chris Rabb. They are talking about blogs, mostly in relation to traditional media.

- 12:43pm - The wireless is very slow, and the forum is getting slightly more angry at each other. There appears to be about a 4:1 ratio of liberals to conservatives at this conference. Hugh just said he wanted the Patriot Act renewed and people hissed – there is a certain meaness still in the group, which I suppose comes from that ratio.

- 12:54pm - Now they’re talking about if comments are important on a blog – Josh is talking about his site, since it does not have comments. Personally, I think that they are important – the real importance of the blog from my point of view is the 2 way feedback mechanism. If there is no commenting system, then it is a one way conversation. Now Hugh is scaring people about leaving the comments section open, or you might get sued over it – some copyright issues. He also doesn’t like Diaries, like Kos does – which I also disagree with. He thinks of it as massive publishing, while I tend to view it as collaboration.

- 2:13pm - 30 hours now with no real sleep – and counting. And the fun continues. Now we’re listening to an online advertising forum. Now, the funny thing, as with much of this conference, is that much of the beginning of this discussion is around convincing candidates or campaigns to embrace this technology – whether it is online advertising or wikis or blogs or podcasts or what have you. The funny thing is that I already am. My response to not being able to convince candidates is to do so myself, so some of this stuff is not that helpful. I can see it being very helpful to some others, but not really to me. So far my favorite part was the 5 minute speech by Andrew, so I hope he comes up here again.

I’m watching this online ad forum, and right now it’s rather like a commercial for this one online ad company, but I still feel as though this stuff is not helpful for democracy. I suppose we could do little flash versions of 30 second TV spots, but do we really want to? I don’t feel like that’s really doing anything new or evolutionary – we’re not advancing the dialoge. I think online advertising is great, and I absolutely plan to use it, but I think it can be more helpful than what we do on TV.

As an aside, I hear the phrase “join the conversation” a ton, but it doesn’t have to do with my site. I think that just means we choose a really great slogan. Apparently, under the surface, that’s what people are really trying to go for here – getting people involved in a real way.

- 2:32pm - Andy Stern if the SEIU is now being interviewed, and it is amazing how plugged in the guy is. He is very down to earth and knowledgable about technology and it’s potential in his organization.


He said he had to overcome all the lawyers saying “you shouldn’t blog”, then all the people who said “they are not going to say nice things”, but that’s part of being a leader is hearing things that you may not agree with . It is a good point, and one that is difficult to convince people at the top normally.

He just mentioned that text messaging might be more useful to experiment with, because of the universality of it. I have been thinking about this lately, and I think I mentioned it in one of my podcasts, because it is true and overlooked. Everyone has a cell phone – the digital divide is much less prominent with cellular technology. How can we use SMS and texting to organize and get people involved?

Off point, but I just really noticed that there are a LOT of Macs here. I wish I had taken a picture, but there were like four guys sitting on the ground, each with a Mac laptop, all in a row.

- 3:00pm - Promise of Municipal Broadband

My question was : How are the lower income families affording computers to access the wifi? It wasn’t answered, but I think she addressed it on the “On the Media” show she was interviewed on.

A couple of sites from the forum : Wireless Philadelphia Executive Committee, Civitium (a company that did the ROI for them), MuniWireless, NYC Wireless, TOC Wireless (Carrboro Wireless Project).

Andrew said that telcos are getting prohibative language in the redo of the 1996 Telecom Act against muni wifi right now. If only we had politicians representing us who didn’t take big money from them.

This is interesting, with the conversation in the background. The forum has this great big screen behind them, where people can post questions and comments over the wireless (I’ll put some shots up later), and some of the questions are quite good – it’s an interesting dynamic – what a great town hall that would make.

One of many interesting ideas that Andrew had for what universal city wifi would enable us to do : “Fireman can download a blueprint to a building on the way to a fire”. There are hundreds of great ideas like this that we could build on top of a solid infrastructure like that.

- 3:24pm - “Getting it : Changing your organizations internal structure”

This was a really great forum – the best of the day, and I’m glad I made it there. I took a bunch of notes (it’s pretty hard to break out the laptop in the small room), so I’ll have to transcribe them (more or less) later.

- 5:17pm - The Future of Political Media Jay Rosen, Jeff Jarvis, Chuck Defeo, Tucker Eskew, Arianna Huffington

Jeff Jarvis spoke first, and once again I heard the phrase “join the conversation” – I think we’re on to something here.

- Wed Night - Edited post to add pictures.

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