David Isenberg is the organizer and host of this week’s Freedom to Connect gathering, where I’ll be reporting from for the next two days. His opening presentation, a high-energy, at-times poetic call to action, addressed the need for better access to the Net — and what people can do next. What follows is a partial transcript of his remarks:
Freedom to connect. It’s like every other right. We’ve got to fight or they’ll come and take it in the middle of the night. Freedom to connect? Haven’t we already got it? Isn’t that freedom of speech? Tell a joke in line at the airport. Wear the wrong T-shirt to a speech by Mr. By-Of-And-For-the-People. Sure, we’ve got freedom to connect!
I say down the wire; they say up the wire. Up the wire’s another story. They feed it. We eat it. What if we had a printing press that could only print 10 copies an hour? Kilobits should be like transistors. Transistors used to cost several bucks. Now they’re not free, but they’re pico-cents. They should be giving me gigabits.
Too political? Freedom to connect is political. What is too political? There are barriers to freedom to connect. We faced a few of those putting 20 megabits into this room. Network protocols are too complicated to be plug and play. Applications are also too heavy. Crooked executives and leaders who can’t lead. Telephone companies and cable companies that can’t execute. Those are all barriers.
These are problems we’re working, though. Give us time. In a free system, the incompetence falls, and competence will rise. Take the barriers out of the way. Freedom to connect isn’t too political, it’s not political enough. With the demise of the telephone industry as we know it, people have an Internet dividend of a trillion dollars a year. The tele-economy is about to be unnecessary. Where’s our trillion dollars a year? Would you march in the streets for a million dollars?
We’ve reached the tipping point. The technology is out there and the revolution is underway. But a trillion dollars is a lot of dough, and the telcos won’t let it go. Bad laws don’t change when we ignore them. It’s our duty to abhor them. The freedom to connect is like any other right. We’ve got to fight.