David Isenberg's name pops up occasionally here on WorldChanging, and for good reason. He's one of the more forward-thinking telecom specialists around, and his work on whether to embed "intelligence" in a network or in the devices at the end (the latter is far better) has shaped the thinking of many people now working on social networks and the evolution of the Internet. I first met David a decade ago at Global Business Network, and I read his blog at Isen.com religiously. David wrote to me today to tell me about the upcoming F2C: Freedom to Connect conference, to be held April 3-4 in Silver Springs, Maryland. (See the extended entry for more details.)
F2C is an effort to highlight the concept that freedom to connect -- i.e., to communicate -- is as fundamental as freedoms of the press, religion, assembly and speech. The laws in many countries covering telecommunications, however, are often skewed towards the interests of providers; the Freedom to Connect conference will emphasize the rights of the users.
The need to communicate is primary, like the need to breathe, eat, sleep, reproduce, socialize and learn. Better connections make for better communication. Better connections drive economic growth through better access to suppliers, customers and ideas. Better connections provide for development and testing of ideas in science and the arts. Better connections improve the quality of everyday life. Better connections build stronger democracies. Strong democracies build strong networks.
F2C:Freedom to Connect begins with two assumptions. First, if some connectivity is good, then more connectivity is better. Second, if a connection that does one thing is good, then a connection that can do many things is better.
There's a startling amount of legislation in consideration in the US and Europe that would undermine the "end to end" and "network neutrality" elements of the Internet, two aspects that really are cornerstones of today's net. It's entirely possible that many of us will see the end of the era of an Internet that allows new devices and services to spring up without the permission of network operators. Furthermore, the telecom companies dominant in the West can have remarkable influence upon the evolution of telecom services in the developing world, particularly as the leapfrog nations loosen government controls over information and communication technologies and industries.
This is a very important issue, and if you have the time and resources, I encourage you to attend this conference. David was gracious enoug to offer WorldChanging readers a special discount for those who wish to attend (see below). Note that WorldChanging ally David Weinberger is one of the scheduled speakers!
I'd like offer a special deal to readers of WorldChanging that does not appear on the official F2C website. It is about 50% off the standard early bird pricing, $295 vs. regular early bird at $595. They need to use code FOBDL when they register at http://www.pulver.com/f2c/ Unfortunately, this deal expires on February 28, but WorldChanging is all about being proactive, right?
The speakers list is shaping up nicely. Reed Hundt is giving the Conference Keynote. Representative Rick Boucher D-VA is confirmed. Chris Sacca, Google's biz-dev point-man has just signed up, and we have several other government VIPs at the forefront of the Internet Freedom debate almost confirmed.
Other speakers include