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Navigating the Age of Democratized Media conference keynote

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    Thank you Tom, it's a great pleasure to be here
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    I'm very glad to have the opportunity to talk
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    about the questions that concern me most
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    in a context which allows us to talk a little bit
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    about journalism and a little bit about ignorance
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    and a little bit about abuse of power
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    The problem presented by The Press
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    that is to say by the machinery of communication
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    since we began industrializing communication
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    and fighting ignorance in Europe,
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    in the 15th Century
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    The problem posed by the Press
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    is its almost impossible affiliation with power
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    the Press and power are difficult to keep apart
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    more difficult to keep apart than peanut butter
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    and jelly, more difficult to keep apart
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    than night and day.
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    The Press and power fell into one another's
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    embrace from the very beginning
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    because from the very beginning it was clear
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    that the alternative to an embrace between
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    the Press and power
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    is constant Revolution fueled by people's desire
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    to know and to free themselves
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    to act in their own best interests
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    regardless of power's best interests
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    Our adoption of the Press in the European world
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    brought on the collapse of the unity
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    of Christendom and the end of the system
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    for the control of the mind
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    that was the universal Catholic Church
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    in that great intellectual, political,
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    moral revolution we called the Reformation
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    The response to the Reformation was the
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    lesson in all European societies, Protestant
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    and Catholic both that the Press could not
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    be allowed to be free.
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    and the result was censorship almost
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    everywhere for hundreds of years
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    In those few places in Europe -- in Holland
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    and in the United Kingdom -- actually in England
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    after 1650, and then again after 1695 --
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    in those few places where the Press was free
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    to print without control, the result was the
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    intellectual, political, and moral revolution
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    we call the Enlightenment and the
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    French Revolution, that is
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    a further demonstration that allowing people
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    to know, to learn, to educate one another
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    and to share will bring about
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    deconcentration of Power and threat to every
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    "ancien regime"
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    But in the age of capitalist industrial media
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    out of which we are now passing
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    the marriage between the Press and power was
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    once again a matter of magnetic attraction
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    the Press, that is the industrial production and
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    distribution of organized information --
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    the Press became the handmaiden of the
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    ownership class.
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    Freedom of the Press
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    the great American press critic
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    A. J. Liebling wrote
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    "Freedom of the Press belongs to him who owns one"
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    and throught the 20th Century
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    both with respect to the Press
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    and to its close kissing cousin, Broadcast
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    that was most affirmatively true
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    We are now passing out of the age
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    of the Press
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    as we are passing out of the very idea
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    that there is a machine that transforms
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    information from the local and the temporary
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    to the permanent and the ever-present.
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    We are instead beginning to live inside
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    a digital nervous system which links
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    every human being on the planet
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    to every other human being on the planet
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    actually or potentially
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    without any intermediaries
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    By the end of the next generation
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    whatever horrors or victories have happened
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    in the meantime
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    by the end of the next generation
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    we will live in that world
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    of pervasive human social interconnection
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    which is what we really mean
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    when we talk about "the Internet"
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    Every fax machine -- well, the few remaining --
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    every scanner, every printer, every telephone
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    every camera, every video camera
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    did I say telephone..telephone..telephone..
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    telephone?
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    Every object with electrical power behind it
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    will be an information-gathering and
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    distribution system controlled
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    by some human being, somewhere,
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    at one end or at the other.
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    If it is controlled at the end where the
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    human beings are, where they struggle
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    where they seek to sell their vegetables
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    where they are affronted by a policeman
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    refusing to allow them to sell their vegetables
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    where they act in the street to deal with the
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    aftermath of a vegetable seller prevented
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    from selling his vegetables by a
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    officious policeman
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    everywhere we will have knowledge
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    being produced by people
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    to free themselves.
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    Consider this: In Indian right now
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    the poorest of the poor have mobile phones
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    and on that mobile phone -- each person's
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    mobile phone -- every book, every piece of music
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    every piece of video, every map, every
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    scientific experiment, every kind of
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    information that is useful and beautiful
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    could be made available to every single person
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    were it not for the rules against sharing
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    All we have left in that great nervous system
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    of humanity -- all that we have left that makes
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    ignorance compulsory are the rules against
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    sharing
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    When the rules against sharing are gone
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    -- and they will go --
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    ignorance will, for the first time
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    in the history of the human race,
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    be entirely preventable everywhere
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    You are watching around the world right now
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    as young people demonstrate that they
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    are willing to stand in front of bullets
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    for Liberty.
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    Later in this Century you will watch as
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    young people around the world demonstrate
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    that they are willing to stand in front
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    of bullets in order to have the freedom to learn.
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    When that happens, the human race will go through
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    the most important revolution since 1789,
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    and an "ancien regime" which deserves to perish
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    will perish throughout the world
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    here today we are discussing a few, simple,
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    precursor parts to that enormous revolution.
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    The dis-intermediation of the systems of
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    controlled information production and
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    distribution which have been with us since the
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    morning after Gutenberg.
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    But this is the day after the morning
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    after Gutenberg.
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    This is the moment when the disparities
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    of power and the disparaties of access
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    begin to give way
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    and on the other side, at this moment,
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    are almost all the governments
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    and almost all the Press
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    and almost all the incumbents who do not
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    want the World to change.
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    I was having dinner with a government
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    official in Washington, D.C. earlier this week
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    and I said to him "You know, about half the
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    television networks in Europe seem to be chasing
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    me for an interview to discuss the
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    hypocrisy of American government
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    Internet freedom policy,"
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    I said "and if half the television networks in
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    Europe want to talk to me about the hypocrisy
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    of American Internet freedom policy, that
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    suggests to me that the State Department
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    has a problem.
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    He said "Yes, they know they have a problem,
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    and they want to do something about it."
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    And they should,
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    but every government on Earth
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    has difficulty talking about Internet freedom
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    straight, because every government on Earth
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    is part of a structure of power which stands to
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    lose in one way or another from free information
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    flows, just as the great economic institutions
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    dominating our time, the great surveillance
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    institutions which offer you the chance to search
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    as long as you share everything you search,
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    and free email, as long as you let them read it,
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    and free telephone calls, as long as they can
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    listen in -- just for the purposes of advertsing,
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    mind you.
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    Please, bring half a million people here
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    and live your social life inside my surveillance
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    system. I'll take good care of you.
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    Of course, unless you're in the street protesting
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    against dictatorship, in which case what we will
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    tell you is: our great social networking service
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    is rigidly neutral between dictators and
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    people in the street fighting them...
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    not our concern here at whatchamacallit
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    This is a transitional stage, you understand?
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    I've told you where we're going. Now the question
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    is how are we going to get there?
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    Here's how we're going to get there:
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    the World's going to fill up with cheap, small,
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    low-powered devices that are going to replace
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    most of the computers you're accustomed to.
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    All those big ones on desktops and in closets,
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    and in rooms full of servers somewhere, replaced by things
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    not much larger than a cell phone charger, and
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    very, very, very much more capable
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    than the first computer you ever owned,
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    whichever one it was
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    or maybe even the computer you're
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    using now.
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    Those devices are going to cost next to nothing
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    and they're going to be everywhere, and
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    we're going to make software that runs in them
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    all of them, that a 12 year old can install
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    and a 6 year old can use
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    which will allow people to communicate freely
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    everywhere, all the time, net of state control
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    net of profitmaker control,
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    net of control, they will be Freedom Boxes.
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    They will make Freedom.
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    We don't have to make the boxes -- the boxes
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    are going to fill the world. We just need to make
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    software. And the good news is that we don't
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    need to make software, we make it already.
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    Everybody in this room with an Android phone is
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    using it. Everybody in this room who has
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    touched Facebook today, they were using it
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    on the other side.
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    Everybody who used a bank or a supermarket
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    or an insurance company or a train station
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    in the last week interacted with our software.
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    It's everywhere. We made it to be everywhere
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    It's Free.
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    That means we can copy it, modify it,
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    and redistribute it freely.
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    It also means that it works for people,
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    not for companies.
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    All of this is already done. This is the result
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    of 25 years of effort on our part.
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    Now, right now, in the street, right now,
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    we begin to show why it protects Freedom
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    and why people need it.
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    And we begin to prepare to deliver it to them.
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    A. J. Liebling, that press critic I was
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    speaking of before, wrote once
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    "The American press reminds me of a
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    12 billion dollar superheated, absolutely
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    state of the art fish cannery relying for all
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    its fish on 6 guys in leaky rowboats."
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    The point being, of course, that the great
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    monolithic industrial press of the 20th
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    Century did everything well except reporting,
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    which it did poorly, because reporting
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    was the free lunch in the saloon, and any time
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    the saloonkeeper could cut back on it, he did.
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    I don't need to tell you that that process has
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    accelerated since A. J. Liebling died in 1975.
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    So we live now in a world where we're
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    about to fill a gap in reporting.
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    You know what fills the gap in reporting -- it was
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    referred to in the moments we've already had together
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    it's all those phones, all those video cameras, all those tweets.
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    In other words, we have already democratized
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    the system of reporting.
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    What is scary for the establishment
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    about Wikileaks is that Wikileaks is to
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    newsgathering what Craig's List is to
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    classified advertising.
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    It changes the economy of leaking
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    I hate to be correcting anybody on any point
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    but I should point out that Wikileaks
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    has not released 250,000 State Department
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    cables. It has 250,000 State Department cables
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    and has released about 2,000 of them.
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    Which is about the number of diplomatic
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    cables showed to diplomatic correspondents around the world
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    working for major newspapers every single day.
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    But nobody says that's treason, because that's
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    the official commerce in leaking, from which
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    government officials and press lords and
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    owners around the World derive benefit
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    every single day
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    Economic power, political power
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    and the power to keep people ignorant.
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    What is happening in the 'Net, now,
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    in those phones, in those Tor exit nodes,
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    and what will be happening in the World
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    multiplied by a hundred, shortly,
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    in all those Freedom Boxes is,
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    information being free for the benefit of those
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    who need.
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    Ask yourself what will happen when
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    everybody who needs can have
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    and everybody who can make, supplies.
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    What will happen in neighborhoods
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    What will happen in police stations
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    What will happen when there's a fire
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    Or an earthquake, what will happen when there's
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    a tyrant coming down.
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    Those same little boxes I'm talking about
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    will also be able to do wireless mesh networking
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    that is to say that if somebody turns out
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    the telecommunications network in a neighborhood
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    the neighborhood will keep functioning.
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    What Mr. Mubarak and the men around him
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    misunderstood. The reason that he's in
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    Sharm el-Sheikh, hoping to buy a single floor through apartment
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    in one of the towers being built in Mecca, no doubt
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    The reason that that happened is that
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    Mr. Mubarak and his advisers thought that
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    if you turn off the Internet, you turn off
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    the Internet generation.
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    That was wrong. Because, in fact, it isn't
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    a particular system of telecoms,
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    or a particular social networking structure,
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    a particular database of 'twats' ... or twuts..
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    or twoots, or whatever they call them
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    It's not the technology that makes it work
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    it's that human beings have figured out
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    something about society if they grow up
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    in the 'Net.
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    Most human beings, most of the time,
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    in most social contexts, believe that the
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    social network valuable to them is the people
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    they see every day, and the people with whom
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    they have strong emotional connections.
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    That's how most people, almost all the time,
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    think about the social world.
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    That's because we evolved for millions of years to think that way.
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    As parts of small groups of a few dozen
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    ground-dwelling primates.
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    Our neurology evolved for that
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    our social heuristics evolved for that
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    we think that the social network robust
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    enough to support us, is the people
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    we see around us and the people we care about
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    who care about us back.
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    But the generation of people growing up
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    inside the 'Net now knows, knows viscerally, knows all the time
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    as a matter of habit, is that the social network
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    that is robust enough to change the world
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    around you includes the thousands of people
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    you don't live near, and with whom you don't
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    have any direct emotional connection,
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    but are the people who believe what you
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    believe, and want to do something about it, too.
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    What we learned at the end of the 20th Century
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    first in Poland, and then in other places, is that
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    what makes revolution is solidarity.
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    The ability of people who do not live near
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    one another in social or geographic space
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    who do not have immediate personal bonds
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    binding them together, to percieve the ability
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    to self-organize for the sudden achievement
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    of deeply felt social ends
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    what the network does -- what life with the network does is to
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    teach humans that the cost of making solidarity
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    has gone way down.
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    That it is easier and faster to make solidarity
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    than it has ever been before, and if you take
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    a bunch of people who know that lesson, and
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    you turn the network off, they go right on making
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    solidarity the best way they know how.
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    They drop leaflets in the street, they make
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    carrier pigeons, they have phone trees.
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    They do whatever it is, because the real skill
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    being learned by humanity is the skill of
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    self-organization, and what we're seeing right
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    now, today, in the Maghreb, right now,
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    right today, right now, is that solidarity made
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    by self-organization is stronger than machine
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    gun bullets.
  • 17:16 - 17:18
    All over the world tyranny likes to say "the
  • 17:18 - 17:21
    alternative to me is chaos," and all around the
  • 17:21 - 17:25
    world everybody can see that isn't true.
  • 17:25 - 17:27
    So what we're going to do is we're going to make
  • 17:27 - 17:30
    cheap things, and we're going to fill them
  • 17:30 - 17:32
    with Free Software, and we're going to put them
  • 17:32 - 17:33
    in everybody's hands, and we're going to say
  • 17:33 - 17:37
    "Here. That makes solidarity. Use it. Be well.
  • 17:37 - 17:41
    Be Free"
  • 17:41 - 17:43
    It's going to work.
  • 17:43 - 17:46
    There isn't any reason to be on the side
  • 17:46 - 17:49
    of the Press, just as there isn't any reason
  • 17:49 - 17:53
    to be on the side of power. It's simple, now.
  • 17:53 - 17:57
    Power has moved to the edge of the network,
  • 17:57 - 17:58
    and it will continue to do that for a generation
  • 17:58 - 17:59
    to come.
  • 17:59 - 18:01
    It will make a grand revolution, and it will
  • 18:01 - 18:05
    change the fate of billions of human beings.
  • 18:05 - 18:08
    It will make ignorance obsolete, and when it
  • 18:08 - 18:10
    makes ignorance obsolete, it will change the
  • 18:10 - 18:14
    future of the human condition.
  • 18:14 - 18:15
    The Press isn't going to do that. Power isn't
  • 18:15 - 18:18
    going to do that.
  • 18:18 - 18:20
    People are going to do that.
  • 18:20 - 18:23
    The technology to empower people to do that
  • 18:23 - 18:26
    exists already. All it needs is a little bit
  • 18:26 - 18:28
    of refinement.
  • 18:29 - 18:34
    We're the guys who refine it. We don't seek
  • 18:34 - 18:35
    money. We don't seek power. We only want
  • 18:35 - 18:39
    to share.
  • 18:39 - 18:43
    Everyone wants to talk about Internet freedom,
  • 18:43 - 18:45
    except us.
  • 18:45 - 18:48
    We don't want to talk about Internet freedom,
  • 18:48 - 18:50
    we just want to do it.
  • 18:50 - 18:51
    Join us.
  • 18:51 -
    Thank you very much.
Title:
Navigating the Age of Democratized Media conference keynote
Description:

Eben Moglen gives this keynote at the Feb 25, 2011 Morningside Post Conference on Digital Media, the theme of which was "Navigating the Age of Democratized Media".

Eben talks about the FreedomBox, a project to return control of digital communications to individuals
and take it away from the corporations that spy on people as a way of
life and the governments that use control over communications to stifle
political organization and dissent.

This project serves as a particular example of his larger theme that the digital networking of each person to each other person through the internet will level the media landscape of the 21st century and make ignorance obsolete, something we could make a technical reality today if not for the "rules against sharing."

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Video Language:
English

English subtitles

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