Personal Democracy Forum: Politics in the Web 2.0 Era

In the past year or so, I’ve been urging people to work on stuff that matters. The world is faced with serious problems, and we in the technology community have a unique contribution to make, as the tools we’ve created help us to collaborate and organize at an unprecedented scale outside of industrial-era top-down organizations.

One area where technology and real world concerns meet is in the challenge of remaking democracy in a Web 2.0 world. With the support of the President of the United States himself, the US government is committed to exploring how to use technology to make government more transparent, accountable, and collaborative. How cool is that?

And how important is it that we, the technology community, rise to the challenge? If a couple of years go by, and nothing changes, the opportunity will have been lost; new media and new technology will be relegated to the dustbin of fads that have come and gone in Washington. It’s up to us to make it not so, to prove to ourselves that we can indeed use technology to make a difference – in governing, but also in the critical tasks that face us as citizens: creating a more robust economy, improving our educational system, reducing the cost and increasing the effectiveness of health care, achieving energy independence and halting climate change.

I’ve been organizing two events in Washington to create new bridges between the technology community and the political community, the Government 2.0 Expo Showcase and the Government 2.0 Summit, to be held in Washington D.C. in early September. You’ll be hearing more from me about these events in the coming months – they are consuming a lot of my time and energy as I try to understand how to bring the best of what we’ve learned about the age of networks to the problems of government.

But in the meantime, I want to let you know about an event that is happening in New York at the end of June.

Personal Democracy Forum is a two-day tech + politics brainfest that
brings together a thousand political activists, organizers, hackers
and hacks, along with many leading elected and government officials,
NGO leaders, academic observers and journalists. It’s now in its sixth
year, taking place June 29-30 in New York City at Jazz at Lincoln
Center.

This year’s conference is focused on the theme of “We.gov” and all the
ways that campaigns, elections, media, advocacy, and governance are
becoming more open, participatory and collaborative. I’ve known the organizers,
Micah Sifry and Andrew Rasiej, for several
years now, and in addition to their work as technology advisers for
the Sunlight Foundation, they are part of a vanguard of individuals who are leading that change.

Come hear keynotes from speakers including: White House CIO Vivek
Kundra; Deputy CTO for Open Government Beth Noveck; State Department
Senior Adviser for Innovation Alec Ross; New York Times columnist
Frank Rich; Craigslist founder Craig Newmark; Fivethirtyeight.com
blogger Nate Silver; Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey; Obama ’08 new
media director Joe Rospars; Edwards ’08 campaign strategist Joe
Trippi, writers Clay Shirky, danah boyd and Doug Rushkoff, and
anthropologists of the future Mike Wesch and Mark Pesce, among many
others.

In addition to covering lots of the brass tacks of doing politics in a
networked age (online targeting, using mobile platforms, spreading
viral video, raising money, harnessing volunteers effectively), the
agenda also tackles a lot of cutting-edge topics, including:

  • Twitter as a platform for organizing and fundraising (with speakers
    like Amanda Rose of Twestival and Abby Kirigin of the startup TipJoy)

  • Imagining White House 2.0 (with Jim Gilliam of WhiteHouse2.org, Ellen
    Miller of Sunlight, Fabrice Florin of Newstrust and Mark Elliott of
    Collabforge)

  • The Rise of Health Care 2.0: Participatory Medicine (with Esther
    Dyson and James Heywood of PatientsLikeMe)

  • Building the Social Economy (with Doug Rushkoff and Tara Hunt)
  • Redesigning .Gov for Transparency and Participation (with Clay Johnson
    and Ali Felski of Sunlight among others)</ul

    You can see the full conference details here.

    O’Reilly Radar readers can save $100 off the conference registration by using
    this coupon code: “Oreimedi100″

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  • http://www.sciencecheerleader.com Darlene

    Thank you for sharing this. I’m curious to see some “faint signals” that Congress is in step with the Executive Branch. Seems all movement/ideas live in the realm of the President but that’s half the equation. We need a Congress that values public participation, collaboration, “2.0″ mantras, as well, particularly when setting technology policies, no?

  • http://efasoft.blogspot.com Joel Amoussou

    Thanks for organizing these events. Here are my thoughts on Government in the Web 3.0 (aka Semantic Web) era: http://efasoft.blogspot.com/2009/06/publishing-government-data-to-linked.html