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Personal Democracy 2011: a view from Europe

BY Antonella Napolitano | Monday, June 13 2011

[Picks for people across the pond]

Personal Democracy Forum 2011 was focused on agents of change: people and movements that are changing the world using technologies to get together, share and organize.
And change it is in the Middle East, as we heard from many speakers from Egypt, Tunisia and many other countries involved in the Arab Spring, like activist Alaa adb el Fattah.

Watch live streaming video from pdf2011 at

The main voice from Europe on those topics was Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake, who has been working on freedom of speech, declaring also that "we are lacking a balance in the discourse on Internet security", an issue often related .
The United Nations just sent out a report declaring that Internet access is a human right, another issue Schaake addressed during her speech. It states that "the Internet has become a key means by which individuals can exercise their right to freedom and expression."
MEP Schaake, a founder of the European Parliament Intergroup on New Media and Technology, called for the need of laws not based on nations but shaped on the global environment we live in today.

Watch live streaming video from pdf2011 at

The conclusion of Schaake is aimed at the audience: "We need to build a knowledge base on the part of decisionmakers".

...and a message: "The Internet is my religion".
For some people war may be a completeley different kind of thing. That's what activist Jim Gilliam explained to the audience of PdF 2011, sharing a personal story about how the Internet helped him restore his faith — and his body — against cancer.

Watch live streaming video from pdf2011 at

As reported by our own Nick Judd on the gift of interconnectness:

[...] his activist friends made through the Internet began lobbying the hospital that rejected him to reconsider — through email, naturally — until, eventually, a surgeon reached out to him. No one was going to accuse that surgeon of being afraid of a surgery, Gilliam explained.
And so it was that, before his surgery, Gilliam said, he realized that he owed his life to human interconnectedness — an interconnectness that would be represented by his body in the form of three distinct sets of DNA.
Gilliam seemed to verge on the emotional as he explained the revelation he had then.
"That's when I truly found God," he said. "God is what happens when humanity is connected ... it was only through the grace of God, your grace, that I was saved.
"We all owe our lives to countless people we will never meet," he added.

A powerful talk on faith in people, both individual and collective agents of change. A hopeful message we might not be used to.

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