Drumbeat Toronto

Yesterday I went to Mozilla Drumbeat Toronto, an event designed to promote a open Internet.

In the morning, we presented our views by standing on a line representing a range of positions and interpretive skits intended to explain the open Internet to a specific demographic…

I understand that this wasn’t the intent, but to me it felt… juvenile? It was the sort of exercise one might use to try to convey a message to a class of five year olds…

In retrospect, I can see where the ideas came from. The first was an attempt to organise people to help facilitate discussion and the latter to get us to think about how to explain the importance of openness. But to me, they didn’t seem to work that well.

I don’t mean to offend the organisers: I appreciate the effort that went into organising this event.

The afternoon was much better.

The first event was called `speed-geeking.’  Twelve people quickly spoke to a cycle of twelve groups about a topic.

I was asked to speak about hacklab.to. I think I did a reasonable job. I hope I did, at any rate… My throat got rather sore and some people gave me water (thank you!). A journalist wanted to speak to me after the event but I didn’t see him while I was leaving (I left when people went to the bar, for obvious reasons…): If you’re reading this, sorry about not looking more; in retrospect I should have gone up to the bar for a few minutes and talked to people despite being underage.

Next we broke up into groups to discuss different topics. I was able to form a group to discuss `open education and scholarship.’  This lead to a really exciting conversation. One of the people there was Stian Håklev from P2PU. The main points were:

  • Both online and real life education can be done well or poorly.
  • They have different strengths.
  • Universities presently fulfil a variety of roles (education, accreditation, research…). Having these all handled together is not necessary and they seem to be decoupling.
  • Problems faced by independent scholars vary from field to field and in magnitude but often include lack of access to libraries, grants, and mandatory ethics and safety reviews. To their benefit is the fact that peer review is blind.

I also tried to form a discussion group regarding ACTA. I gave the following introduction to try and attract people:

Last week, the text of the anti-counterfeiting trade agreement was released. ACTA is an attempt by the US to use its failing hegemony to force its inane copyright mandate on other countries, veiled by back-room legislation laundering. ACTA can and must fall! What will we do about it?

Not the best way to handle it… I should probably have talked about how it was a threat to them, instead. Live and learn, I guess.

I was part of the discussion group regarding political activism and the Internet, instead. The main take away point is: there’s a very big difference between online and offline action. Just because someone supports you online, doesn’t mean that will translate to offline support.

And that was that.

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