Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

PdF Europe 2010: An Advance Look at the Program

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, September 6 2010

The program for PdF Europe 2010 is rapidly coming together, and we will have a full schedule posted within a week. But here’s a more detailed look at the agenda-in-formation. Keep in mind that this is still subject to change.

On Monday, October 4th, the first day of the conference, the morning plenary will begin with a view from the highest level, as Alec Ross, the US State Department’s senior advisor for innovation, and the person most responsible for the Obama Administration’s new “21st century statecraft,” will offer opening remarks on how he views the Internet as a force for positive change. “Reimagining International Relations in a Networked Age” is the theme of his speech.

Then we’ll hear from several leading practitioners in that very arena, including the founders of, which aims to securely connect political refugees online; a leader of the international CrisisWiki disaster response network; and the head of the European Parliament’s online web strategy.

Following a coffee break, the rest of the morning will then shift into a discussion of how political parties and politicians are mastering online politics. We’ll hear from leading representatives from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Sweden, who will present up-to-date case studies on everything from digital campaign organizing in elections to using Twitter to map political influence. Marietje Schaake, Member of the European Parliament, will talk about how to be a wired politician.

As with PdF 2010 in New York City, the plenary session will be built around fast-paced individual keynotes. Then, after a networking lunch, the conference will shift into workshop mode, with simultaneous breakout sessions featuring expert panels and lots of audience participation.

One track of breakouts will focus on how anti-corruption and good government activists are using the internet to foster greater transparency and accountability in their countries. Speakers will include Marko Rakar, the founder of, Croatia’s biggest political blog community; Doru Frantescu of; Dejan Milovac of the MANS network in Montenegro; Ronny Patz of Transparency International; David Moore of; John Wonderlich of the Sunlight Foundation; Helen Darbishire of Info Acces; Antti Poikola of Finland's Apps for Democracy; and Stephen King of the Omidyar Network.

We’re also planning another track of breakouts on how governments and citizens are inventing new and collaborative ways of improving public services, covering everything from making cities smarter around open data to improving health care, policing and local community. Stay tuned for details.

Day One of the conference will end with two plenary talks around the topic of “The internet and democratization." You’ll hear first from Evgeny Morozov, the author of the forthcoming book “The Net Delusion: Promoting Democracy in the Digital Era” and one of the leading skeptics of what some are calling “techno-utopianism.” Following him will be Jeremy Heimans, founder of Purpose, and before that the co-founder of two of the largest online activist organizations in the world: and of Australia. We expect a rousing and provocative conversation will ensue, and the day will end with a cocktail party for all the conference attendees and speakers.

Tuesday, October 5th, the focus of the morning plenary will shift. If on Monday we hear mainly from government leaders and political professionals, Tuesday morning will be for activists who are using the internet from the bottom up. We’ll open with Randi Zuckerberg, director of marketing of Facebook, who will share some stunning new data about how people around the world are “friending” each other across conflict zones. Then we’ll hear from three leading activists who are using the web to organize internationally: Andre Banks, the leader of a new international online group fighting for gay rights; Ghaffar Hussain of the Quilliam Foundation, a Muslim "counter-extremism think-tank"; and Jenni Wolfson of, the leading international human rights organization using online video.

Then we’ll hear several keynote presentations all offering different interpretations of “The Power of Information When It Is Free.” Speakers will include MP Birgitta Jonsdottir of Iceland, leader of that country’s innovative effort to create a safe haven for information disclosure from anywhere in the world; Jeremie Zimmerman of La Quadrature du Net, who will review the state of the ongoing fight for internet freedom in Europe; and Håkon Wium Lie, the CTO of Opera Software and one of the web’s designers (just Google his name and CSS), who will talk about the power of open data.

After a coffee break, we’ll shift again into breakout sessions on a variety of topics, including a more detailed look at digital organizing online in national and local politics; a discussion of the relationship between open data and open government; and a forum on how the media is changing in the digital age.

Following another networking lunch, The conference will close with a symposium on the future of online politics in Europe, which will be highly participatory. And then, cava!

[The hashtag for PdF Europe is #pdfeu.]

News Briefs

RSS Feed thursday >

NYC Open Data Advocates Focus on Quality And Value Over Quantity

The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications plans to publish more than double the amount of datasets this year than it published to the portal last year, new Commissioner Anne Roest wrote last week in an annual report mandated by the city's open data law, with 135 datasets scheduled to be released this year, and almost 100 more to come in 2015. But as preparations are underway for City Council open data oversight hearings in the fall, what matters more to advocates than the absolute number of the datasets is their quality. GO

Civic Tech and Engagement: Announcing a New Series on What Makes it "Thick"

Announcing a new series of feature articles that we will be publishing over the next several months, thanks to the support of the Rita Allen Foundation. Our focus is on digitally-enabled civic engagement, and in particular, how and under what conditions "thick" digital civic engagement occurs. What we're after is answers to this question: When does a tech tool or platform enable actual people to make ongoing and significant contributions to each other, to a place or cause, at a scale that produces demonstrable change? GO

monday >

Tweets2Rue Helps Homeless to Help Themselves Through Twitter

While most solutions to homelessness focus on addressing physical needs -- a roof over the head and food to eat -- one initiative in France known as Tweets2Rue knows that for the homeless, a house is still not a home, so to speak: the homeless are often entrenched in a viscous cycle of social isolation that keeps them invisible and powerless. GO

Oakland's Sudo Mesh Looks to Counter Censorship and Digital Divide With a Mesh Network

In Oakland, a city with deep roots in radical activism and a growing tech scene at odds with the hyper-capital-driven Silicon Valley, those at the Sudo Room hackerspace believe that the solution to a wide range of problems, from censorship to the digital divide, is a mesh net, a type of decentralized network that is resilient to censorship and disruption and can also bring connectivity to poor communities.