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#PDF13: Here's the Breakout Schedule: 90+ Speakers; 20+ Great Sessions [UPDATED]

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, May 20 2013

The scene at PDF 2012's opening

We're almost done nailing down the schedule for Personal Democracy Forum 2013, just a little less than three weeks away. In addition to our main hall keynotes, we're pleased to be offering more than 20 in-depth breakout sessions featuring an amazing array of 90 expert speakers. Our breakout sessions take place each day of the conference after lunch, on the eighth and ninth floors of the Kimmel Center at NYU, adjoining the Skirball Center where we hold the plenaries. Online registration is still open.

This year we've developed several core tracks for the breakouts: Net-powered organizing, the growing civic stack, tech policy, and the uses (and misuses) of political data. We also will be offering a few sponsored sessions with partners from Mozilla, Omidyar Network, Thoughtworks, along with a lunchtime demo by Mobile Commons and a special workshop run by GitHub.

Here's what we have lined up for you in each track*:

Net-powered organizing:

  • Packaging ideas so they spread (Friday, 3:30): Lessons from cutting-edge innovators like Upworthy, Upwell, and ShareProgress--Sara Critchfield, Rachel Weidinger, Jim Pugh, Tracy Russo (moderator);

  • Personalization and organizing (Thursday, 2:00): New techniques using mobile (Organizer), online ad targeting (Blueprint Interactive), social media data-mining ( and peer-to-peer outreach (Amicus)--Ralph Garvin, Amy Gonzalez, Ron Williams, Seth Bannon, Liz Mair (moderator);

  • Beyond the "Like" (Thursday, 3:30): New ways of using Facebook for organizing, including how to measure engagement, email/advocacy conversions offsite, and A/B testing in the newsfeed--Mike Connery, Kaiya Wadell, Terry Sullivan, Cheryl Contee, Deanna Zandt (moderator).

  • The future(s) of crowdfunding (Thursday, 3:30): Peer-based fundraising is exploding into all kinds of areas, from neighborhood projects and civic initiatives to for-profit start-ups and environmental efforts, led by organizations like, respectively, Citizinvestor, SpaceHive, WeFunder, and Ioby--Jordan Raynor, Rodrigo Davies, Mike Norman, Erin Barnes, Allison Fine (moderator)

The growing civic stack:

  • Building civic communities the open-source way (Friday, 3:30): An exploration of how the open source development model has spurred the creation of the worldwide *Camp “unconference” phenomenon, the emerging culture of collaborative consumption, and is now being used by civic leaders to build richer, more engaged communities--Andrew Hoppin, Hillary Hartley, Eddie Tejada, Federica Pelzel, Brian Gryth (moderator);

  • Do's and don'ts for civic hackers (Thursday, 2:00): Veteran coders, designers and community organizers share what they know about what works--Mark Headd, Erie Meyer, Phil Ashlock, Catherine Bracy, Tom Steinberg, Nick Judd (moderator);

  • Unlikely platforms for civic engagement (Thursday, 2:00): Public policy leaders from, respectively, Yelp, AirBnb, Etsy and Waze will discuss how their companies are starting to curate and generate surprising public benefits, from rating of government services and provision of emergency housing to job training partnerships and rich data on public infrastructure--Luther Lowe, Molly Turner, Althea Erickson, Mark Edward Campos, Oscar Salazar (moderator);

  • Civic hacking after the an apocalypse (Thursday, 3:30): How did local communities working with official and unofficial first-responders knit civilization back together after Hurricane Sandy, and what do we need to do better next time calamity strikes? Alex Torpey, Winnie Wong, Becky Kazansky, Emma Richards, David Eaves (moderator);

  • Open government and inclusion (Friday, 2:00): How civic technologists can do a better job making sure the rising tide of connectivity lifts all boats, including historically disadvantaged communities--Steven Clift, Abhi Nemani, Dionne Baux, Demond Drummer, Nancy Lublin, Susannah Vila (moderator).

Tech policy:

  • Can the left and right unite on Internet freedom? (Friday, 2:00)This panel will discuss the principled reasons that make Internet freedom appealing to advocates on both sides of the political aisle and explore how to empower a more united movement. Berin Szoka, Gigi Sohn, Adam Thierer, Mike Masnick (moderator);

  • The future of tech policy (Friday, 3:30): From the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to jailbreaking mobile devices, what tech policy issues are ripe for reform and what are the pathways forward? Berin Szoka, Gigi Sohn, Katie McAuliffe, Derek Khanna, Mike Masnick (moderator);

  • Competition, broadband and consumer protection (Thursday, 2:00): Our mix of advocates, policy experts, and industry professionals will look at the broader implications of access to broadband, why it's about more than just faster web surfing, and how gigabit networks will transform communities--Geoffrey Manne, Jamilah King, Josh Levy, Patrick Lucey, Jill Szuchmacher, Ben Moskowitz (moderator);

  • The camera is everywhere (Friday, 2:00): A conversation about the ubiquity of surveillance and the state (and future) of surveillance culture, from drones to Google Glass to the Boston Marathon--Biella Coleman, Ben Moskowitz, Ethan Zuckerman, Michel Martin (moderator).

The uses (and misuses) of political data

  • How to cover the data-driven campaign (Thursday, 3:30): Last year, while much of the political press chased after silly stories about this Presidential candidate's Google Hangout and that candidate's Spotify list, a handful of reporters zeroed in on the real hidden story, that is, how campaigns are making ever more sophisticated use of data, analytics and targeting--Sasha Issenberg, Nancy Scola, Peter Hamby, Lois Beckett, Nick Judd (moderator);

  • Debating data, privacy and campaigns (Thursday, 2:00): While targeting and analytics may empower political campaigns to make more effective use of their resources, should we worry about their effects on personal privacy, or their larger impact on democracy? Ethan Roeder, Mike Turk, Zeynep Tufekci, Aaron Ginn, Dan Gillmor (moderator);

  • Using big data for grassroots advocacy (Friday, 2:00): While 'big data' is all the rage but how do its core concepts translate to grassroots advocacy? Panelists from across the ideological and advocacy spectrum will address the role of data-mining in grassroots advocacy, key data points every advocacy organization should identify and the unique challenges presented by data-mining for grasstops/relationship-based advocacy--Stefan Hankin, Kristin Johnson, Keeley Mullis, Chip Felkel, Jenny Nuber, Marco Nunez (moderator);

  • The future of political data (Friday, 3:30): In the wake of the 2012 election cycle, the story was about data. What data did the Obama and Romney campaigns have? How were millions of voters targeted by campaigns up and down the ballot for phone banking, canvassing, direct mail, and online and social outreach? Bringing together some of the data leaders on the left and the right sides of the aisle, we'll explore 2012 and then look forward to 2013, 2014 and beyond--John Lee, Ashley Spillane, Serenety Hanley, Shannon Chatlos, Sarah Lai Stirland (moderator);

  • One-on-one conversation with Nate Silver (Friday, 3:30): From baseball and burritos to Bayes and thinking outside the box about polling, punditry and the future of politics--Nate Silver with Micah Sifry.

Sponsored sessions:

  • Aaron's legacy [Thoughtworks](Thursday, 3:30): Since the death of Aaron Swartz, activists have continued fighting hard on an array of issues that he was deeply involved with, including, respectively, open information, fixing Congress, and Internet freedom--Steve Schultze, Lorelei Kelly, David Segal, Tiffiniy Cheng, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, Sarah Lai Stirland (moderator);

  • Civic start-ups and the for-profit sector [Omidyar Network](Friday, 2:00): A mix of civic entrepreneurs, investors, and foundation representatives will look at the growing civic technology space--Jim Gilliam, Ben Rattray, Ben Wirz, Charlie O'Donnell; Lindsay Franklin, Stacy Donohue (moderator);

  • Battling 'Big Brother' [Mozilla](Thursday, 2:00): How do we prepare the general Internet user for a future marred by cyber warfare and continued attack while working towards collaborative and open source solutions that cure the infrastructure holistically?--Sharon Bradford Franklin, Camille François, Harvey Anderson, others to be named.

  • GitHub hands-on workshop: GitHub for the Non-Technical (Friday, 3:30): This workshop will demonstrate how Git and GitHub works and how to use it to work with coders and non-coders alike. Attendees will learn how to view and edit files, how to create new files, how to write collaboratively, and how to create, send, review and accept changes to their files.

  • Government Innovation and Big Data [Bloomberg] (Thursday 3:30):
    Over the past several years government agencies have incorporated open data strategies to accelerate innovation inside and outside of their operations. These experts from both federal and local experience will share what has worked, what challenges still exist, and what lies ahead on as the field expands--Nick Sinai, Rachel Haot, Bryan Sivak and Christina Alesci (moderator);

  • Mobile Commons Advocacy: How to use mobile to get legislative results: Mobile Commons will be demonstrating their Advocacy tool and show why phone calls is the most effective method of advocacy. Learn how to post a simple web form to drive advocacy phone calls and get constituents to call their representatives to effect legislation change.

*Keep an eye on this page for updates; the minute-by-minute schedule will also be posted soon. The conference hashtag is #PDF13.