One of the important aspects of any great conference is the networking that goes on. However, this rarely gets listed in articles about conferences. For the journalistic types, it isn’t especially newsworthy. Yet it actually fits quite nicely with blogging. So, with that, let me highlight some of the people that I ran into at the conference yesterday.
The first session I went to was Mike Godwin doing his spectacular introduction to constitutional law for geeks. I took copious notes and may write up a more detailed post about that session later on. For those acquainted with Godwin’s law, the session was small enough to avoid any direct reference to Nazi’s.
Via Twitter, Jon Lebkowsky joined in. Jon has been to many CFPs in the past, but couldn’t make it this year. I first got to know Jon through Gov. Dean’s 2004 Presidential bid and have remained friends ever since. Also at Mike’s session were Nancy Scola and David Isenberg. Both of whom I’ve know for quite a while through blogging and it was great to catch up with them. Nancy introduced me to Jennifer Mercurio, Government Affairs Director of Entertainment Consumers Association. We had a good brief talk about Second Life, the Video Gamers Voter Network, and related issues, and I hope to follow up on these discussions going forward.
In the evening, there was a reception which included Jack Balkin. Jack, of course, was in constant demand, and I didn’t speak with him as much as I would have liked. However, I did have a great discussion with Konstantinos Karachalios of the European Patent Office. He will be the keynote speaker on Thursday and I look forward to hearing him then. I mentioned Epic and my experiences at UBS which seems to fit nicely with his talk. We talked a little bit about the copyright clause of the U.S. Constitution, “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries”, and pondered whether the actions of the RIAA or MPAA were really promoting the progress of science and useful arts.
I also picked up ‘Scenarios for the Future” published by the European Patent Office and look forward to reading it.
As the evening wore down, I also spoke with Gavin Baker, Ben Masel, and several other people.
I’m sure there will be plenty of additional interesting networking today. As a quick comment to anyone from EntreCard, MyBlogLog, Wordless Wednesday, BlogExplosion, or other sites that bring people to my site for very quick visits, if you’ve made it this far thank you. I would also encourage you to follow the links to some of the folks I met yesterday. You might not get an EntreCard credit, but you might find some very interesting write.
After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, volunteers self organized a project on the Internet to help people find missing loved ones. Hurricane Katrina disproportionately affected poor people and African-Americans. This afternoon at Computers, Freedom and Privacy there was a workshop on deceptive campaign practices. Many ideas were presented and it struck me that perhaps a project similar to PeopleFinder, let’s call in VoteProtector, should be created.
The groundwork was laid by discussing ways that people have presented deceptive information in an effort to suppress votes, particularly of the poor, minorities, and increasingly, of the youth. Tova Wang of Common Cause and Lillie Coney of the Electronic Privacy Information Center led a discussion including Jenigh J. Garrett of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, John Aristotle Phillips, co-founder of Aristotle, Jon Pincus of Tales from the Net, and Ruchi Bhorwmik who works as legislative counsel to Senator Barack Obama.
Many stories were told about spreading false information in efforts to discourage voters from voting or telling them to vote at wrong locations or on wrong days.
A lively discussion followed about different ways of addressing this. One part of the solution is to get more people aware of 1 866 Our Vote, a phone number, and a website that can be used to get people to report voting irregularities and seek help. The problem is getting more people to know about this, to know about their voting rights and to work together to fight deceptive practices.
It struck me that a project like PeopleFinder focusing on these issues could be a powerful way to do this. People could create tools to mashup reports of voting suppression efforts. These efforts could quickly be brought to the attention of the press in the area of the attempted voting suppression. Voting rights, on a state by state basis could be explained. What are the rules about registering to vote? What sort of identification do you need do you need to bring with you to the polls? What are your options for early voting, absentee voting, and provisional ballots?
What are the rules about voting if you’ve been convicted of a felony? I believe some states allow felons to vote. Others do not. Many have rules about felons being able to vote after they have served their time, and perhaps done a few other tasks to get their voting rights back.
Techniques to make encourage voting and discourage voting suppression could be discussed, such as the great idea of getting a group of people to go to the polls together. If you go as part of a group, you are less likely to be turned away, and you are more likely to stand up for your rights if challenged.
This could then be promoted across all the social networks, not only Facebook, which serves a demographic which is perhaps less likely to run into voter suppression activities, but also MySpace, Hi5, and many other sites that have a tendency of getting overlooked.
So, anyone want to pick up the Project VoteProtector ball and run with it?
Recently, I added EntreCard to the mix of tools that I use with my blog. It has driven a nice mix of new traffic to my site and has brought me to several other very interesting sites. Yesterday, they announced some nice changes to their site as well as introduced a few that I didn’t see in the announcement that I like even better. So, it is probably a good time for me to talk a little bit about what EntreCard is, and why I like it.
Tomorrow marks the opening of Computers, Freedom, and Privacy 2008. This is an annual conference that has been held since 1991. This year, it will be in New Haven, CT, which makes it very convenient for me to attend.
As with most conferences, I like to read the program ahead of time to try and decide which sessions I’ll try to attend. Often it is hard to choose with many panels happening at the same time. Frequently, I make last minute choices as I wish from one hour long panel to the next. I may run into this later in the week, but the first decisions seem pretty straight forward to me.
Tuesday starts off with a choice between Scott Spetka leading a workshop entitled “Maintaining Privacy While Accessing On-line Information”, and Mike Godwin leading a workshop entitled “Constitutional Law in Cyberspace”. Through my coverage of the Avery Doninger case, I’ve been steeped in constitutional law around freedom of speech issues, at least as it applies to students in public high schools in the United States. Mike Godwin is general counsel of the Wikimedia Foundation. The workshop should cover a much great array of topics than just the freedom of speech issues I’ve been following. Fortunately, it is three hours long. Even that amount of time will probably only allow the surface to be scratched.
The afternoon provides a choice between Robert Ellis Smith’s presentation, “A Short History of Privacy” and panel organized by Lillie Coney, Associate Director with the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and moderated by Tova Wang, Vice President of Research at Common Cause about entitled, “e-Deceptive Campaign Practices: Elections 2.0”. Both presentations sound very interesting. Yet by the sounds of it Robert Ellis Smith’s presentation will be based substantially on his book “Ben Franklin’s Web Site”. It sounds like a great book, and I’ll put it on my reading list. However, I think I’ll attend the campaign practices session. I should probably say hello to Tova, since my wife now works for Common Cause. Also, the panel has a bunch of interesting folks. It should be fun.
Wednesday morning start off with “Presidential Technology Policy: Priorities for the Next Executive”. It will be co-moderated by Ari Schwartz, Vice President, Center for Democracy and Technology and Susan Crawford, Visiting Professor of Law at Yale Law School. The panel will include Douglas Holtz-Eakin who is Senior Domestic Policy Advisor for the McCain '08 Campaign and Daniel Weitzner who is a member of the Technology Media and Telecommunications policy committee advising the Obama '08 Campaign. I hope the discussion will be lively and fear that the two hours allotted for it may not be enough.
Wednesday afternoon starts the more traditional conference fair with concurrent ninety minute long sessions. I’ll probably start picking which of those sessions to attend sometime around lunch on Wednesday.
So, I hope I have the stamina to attend and write coherently about what looks like a fun conference.
This evening, Democrats across the State of Connecticut will gather at conventions to select their nominees for State Senate. Some of these conventions will be small quiet affairs where old friends gather to nominate their current State Senators for another term.