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Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community


Aug 06, 1997

Posted to HotWired 6 Aug 97

OK, Jon, I read your reasons for not going, and I read the many posts on the subject. What I have to say has been said before, but I want to add my voice to the chorus:

Your primary reason for not going is that it would violate your objectivity as a journalist. But it would not be violated if:
  • You or your employer paid for the trip, and
  • You conducted yourself as an observer, not a participant.
But that said, I have never seen Wired, or yourself for that matter, as a passive observer of internet culture. Wired is important to me because it often defines the scope and nature of internet culture.

Or to put it another way: you've never hesitated to stand in the pulpit when preaching to us, your readers. What makes this assemblage of dignitaries any different?

Not that I have any illusion that they would listen.

The other major reason why you should go, enunciated by dozens of posters, is that we want to know what they're saying.

The net is important to us. If it's going to be militarized, or employed as an instrument of National Power, then we want to know.

More than likely the outcome won't be that staggering. But their choice of topic, their phrasing of issues, their emphasis - all these are interesting to us because they let us know how the other side thinks.

Somebody suggested a RealAudio feed. You can be sure that the net would tune in en masse.

Jon, the whole point of these think tanks is the concentration of power and information. The net, as you know, has the capacity to disperse that. By going to this conference, and keeping is informed, you make us a part of the conference.

In my mind, you would be showing them the power of the internet - and that without even smudging your journalistic oath. Give us a feed. Post the papers online. Set up a 'threads' for each one.

Finally, here's another way of looking at it: we, the citizens of the net, want this information. We will get it. If we don't read it in Wired, we're going to read it in the New York Times, suffering, as always, from their grey flannel spin.

Personally, I'd rather read about it in Wired. Hm?

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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