Tag - Susan Crawford

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Lessons and Thoughts on the Egyptian Protest
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One Web Day 2009
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The Future of the Net is in Good Hands

Lessons and Thoughts on the Egyptian Protest

I’ve been watching and reading about the protests in Egypt with awe at the courage of the participants and fear for the reprisals they may face. Perhaps it’s too early or easy to generalize, but that’s never stopped me before! Here are a few thoughts about the Egyptian protests, and what makes it similar and dissimilar to recent protests in Yemen, Tunisia and Iran:

  • Are heroic leaders always necessary for overthrowing dictatorships?  The protests appear to start in similar fashion. A long-simmering unhappiness, catalyzed by an economic or political event that is spread and catalyzed side-to-side in part because of social media, particular text messaging, that spills out into the streets. This progression mirrors those from twenty five years ago in Eastern Europe. However, one drawback to the  lack of an opposition party, is that it is unclear to whom the protesters expect power be handed to. Lech Walesa, Vaclev Havel, Nelson Mandela personified their country’s opposition forces. And, in the Nobel Prize winner, Mohamed ElBaradei, it appears the country now has it’s heroic leader. No clear leader emerged in Iran and the protests were beaten back. Is a heroic figure an essential ingredient to success?
  • How valuable can social media ultimately be for social change if access is to easily denied? What is different about these protests from those a quarter century ago is how easily and quickly the protests can grow and spread because of social media, But just as easily as social media can be a catalyst for spreading protests, the access to social media can be cut off instantly and without explanation or recourse. This applies not only to the protests, but also to the recent skirmish Wikileaks had with American companies trying to cut off its Internet access. Although the Pew Center for American Life and the Internet now considers online social networking tools, “standard tools for political engagement,” they are also easily blocked by countries or companies. We do not have open, unfettered access to the Internet here or abroad, and these recent events should support the argument that access to the Internet is a fundamental right not a privilege. It should — but, sadly, it won’t because the corporate world has a stranglehold on the democracies, and the dictatorships control the rest. If you want to be scared about the stranglehold that the telecoms have on politics and the Internet here watch Susan Crawford talk about it here
  • I wonder if there are common characteristics to the protests, protesters, countries, circumstances, dictators that make the overthrow of a dictatorship possible in some places and impossible in others? Can anyone point me to any studies on this?

It’s a fast changing world in some ways, but some things remain stubbornly the same. The desire of people to be free is certainly something that has never, and will never, change or dimish.

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One Web Day 2009

One Web Day, the annual event created by Susan Crawford (not a HUGE star in the Obama administration!) to celebrate the virtues of the web is almost here! Mark down September 22, 2009 as One Web Day on your calendar.

This year, through the efforts of a lot of really smart, talented, dedicated people like Kaarli Taaso, David Isenberg, David Weinberger, Mary Hodder, David Johnson, Renee Edelman and others I’m afraid I’m leaving out, the board (of which I am grateful to serve as a member) helped to secure a very generous grant from the Ford Foundation to support One Web Day. That grant enabled us to hire an amazingly talented Executive Director, Nathaniel James and the legendary Mitch Kapor joined us as to become the President of the organization. Nathan and Mitch have been energetically creating partnerships and spreading the word about the day around the world.

So, go to One Web Day’s website, sign up for an event near you, tell your friends about OWD. We have a lot to be grateful for from the web — we should use September 22 to show our appreciation for being able to participate in this amazing revolution.

Here’s a great video about One Web Day:

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The Future of the Net is in Good Hands

With the advent of a new administration, there’s lots of talk about the future of the economy, the future of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the future of the climate, but not as much talk of the future of the Internet.  Remember that series of inter tubes that connects everyone around the globe instantly and inexpensvely?  And remember those corporations and telecoms that wanted to create different classes of net users and charge different (read higher) rates for the transfer of data to and from different people?

This huge fight over net neutrality isn’t over, it’s really just in its infancy, but, great news just arrived from the Obama transition front:  Susan Crawford had been named one of the two co-chairs of the FCC transition team!

This is big, big news for anyone who cares about preserving the essential level playing field of the web.  Susan is an Internet intellectual property pioneer, a former board member of ICANN (it’s like the UN for domain names) and founder of One Web Day (of which I am a board member.)  Susan is a passionate advocate for the open web and it is outstanding news about the intent and interests of the Obama team that they recognized the importance of having someone with her background, interests and skills involved in the formation of hte plans for the FCC which governs much of the activity online here in the US.

Oh, and did I mention that Susan is my friend, and guide, and inspiration, too?  Brava!

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