There are so many ways in which the internet has changed our lives, both personal and professionals. Opportunities have been created, legacy businesses have been displaced. The rate at which this transformation is happening can seem mind boggling, and there seems to be a general tendancy now by large established businesses and even governments to “fight back”. One way the fight is taking shape is restrictions of our individual liberties, and denial of the ability of each and everyone to go online and benefit from whatever opportunities the internet has to offer.
I don’t know if David Isenberg would agree with that, but it seems to me that defending the continued ability to reap these benefits is at the heart of what Freedom to Connect is about. F2C is not an event amongst many with a few interesting talks drowned in vendor sales pitches. It’s a unique opportunity to hear radical thoughts from speakers who are more passionate than they are interested. Last year, I was privileged to hear the late Aaron Swartz talk about how the fight against SOPA/PIPA was won, a lesson both in activism and in internet collaboration. You don’t hear speeches like that every day. In fact, you’re lucky to hear that once in a lifetime.
This year (March 4 & 5, 2013), David’s done it again. His program includes such luminaries as Vint Cerf, Jeff Jarvis, Peter Cochrane and Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald. Trust me though, as important as those people are, the true gem of F2C is discovering the new brightest brains of the internet era; the young people whose name may mean nothing to us today but will be the makers of tomorrow’s connected world. That’s what I will miss the most this year, because sadly I can’t attend Freedom to Connect.
But if you can, you should. Especially if it’s not a 6000 mile ride for you too.