I received an email from David S. Isenberg (formerly of AT&T) over the weekend asking if I could plug a conference titled "F2C: Freedom to Connect", which runs March 30-31st in Washington, DC. It's basic premise? "F2C is where communications policy meets networking technology, network economics, networked applications, and network construction and operation. F2C is dedicated to the proposition that strong networks build strong democracies, and vice versa."
How timely. President Bush talking about how democracy helps spread freedom and David is putting a technology spin on this premise. I guess instead of sanctions in Iran or North Korea we should just send over some network engineers to build high-speed Internet access for these countries. Tongue-in-cheek aside, there is some truth to David's premise that the more open communications you provide to a society, the greater chance democracy has to spread. After all, totalitarian states control their citizens by controlling information citizens receive, such as censoring TV, news, or even the Internet.
The conference features Dan Gillmor (former tech columnist for the Mercury News), David Weinberger (Co-author of Cluetrain Manifesto, author of The Myth of Interference and other writings on Open Spectrum), Vint Cerf (one of the true inventors of the Internet), Scott Heiferman (founder of meetup.com), Jim Baller and Terry Huval (fighters for municipal fiber to the home) and many other heros of the open network.
Sounds like an interesting event. Wish I could attend myself...
Check out the conference lowdown here: http://freedom-to-connect.net/