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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.]