Think Bigger (PDF 2013)

In its 10th year, Personal Democracy Forum has become the  conference on how technology is changing politics. This years edition, which takes place next week June 6 -7th. will focus on “Thinking Bigger”.

According to Micah Sifry and the organizers: “We’ve chosen it in part to honor our late friend Aaron Swartz, who used that phrase it in an email he wrote me, where he asked, “Why not harness the power of the Internet to work on the larger-scale problems?” Why not, indeed.

Thinking bigger can also mean imagining how we can use the explosive growth in data and computing power, as well as the rapid spread of connection technologies into billions of hands, to approach problems in better ways. Bigger data and more powerful technologies can also mean bigger threats to freedom and bigger misunderstandings too–we’re hardly of the view that just because it’s technology that must mean it’s changing things for the better. But as with every PDF conference, we’re aiming to focus on the people, ideas and projects that are really making a positive difference in how the world works and people live.”

The 2 day Program can be found here. Beth Noveck, founder of the GovLab will be speaking on the first panel (9 – 10 AM) on June 6th. Other speakers include: Ethan Zuckerman, Tom Steinberg, Joi Ito, Nicco Mele, Brad Burnham and many others.

Several of the breakout sessions focus on civic technology:

  • 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).

Registration is still open and can be done here. To get the GovLab 20% discount, please use the code GovLabPDF.

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