PdF – the European way

For several years, Personal Democracy Forum has been my favorite conference. It’s been the place where I’ve gotten most inspiration, met most like-minded people, felt incredible welcomed and always got my mind challenged. This was also the case at the recent PdF Europe in Barcelona. But more than before, especially compared with last year, it felt like the conference was on its own home turf.

Photo: Jon Worth, Flickr, CC

Last year, we came to Barcelona to learn about the tech magic that carried Barack Obama all the way into the Oval Office. One year later, we knew that Obama had not brought “the online movement” into the White House. This year, I came to Barcelona to learn more about the European civic use of technology, not primarily the American, and I got what I hoped for, and once again got overwhelmed to be part of such a fun and engaging community. I also came to deliver this presentation:

I’ve written about some of the speakers that especially grabbed my attention in Origo-bloggen (Norwegian), here I would like to focus on what the PdF community actually can achieve in Europe:

  • Bring people together aka idea sharing
  • Building bridges between countries, language barrier, institutions
  • Speed up the culture change
  • Inspire and define new policy
  • Raise the threshold for what is possible with We-Gov
  • Improve political participation  and political processes through new tools (in the long run, improve people’s lives)
  • Create new businesses

This will not happen tomorrow, not the next month. It will take time, it is a process. That was also the message from several of the speakers, especially Paul Johnston, Executive Advisor at Cisco System, who was one of my favorites.

“We’re in a transition phase. eDemocracy is maturing, but it is still in a teenage phase. ” So true.

He also said that we need to change policy making from being in a black box. And first step on its way is TRANSPARENCY, then can we start thinking about (mass) participation with the new tools. He used the British Spending Challenge to illustrate his example. The UK government got more than 44.000 suggestions for how they could cut spending, but Johnston argued that none of them were taken into account when the government actually made their policy behind closed doors.

Johnston called for more open political processes, better tools for contributing to policy work and organizing mass participation and last, but not least, a CULTURE CHANGE within the political environment, but also media.

PdF, with Micah Sifry and Andrew Rasiej as the insightful and inspiring community builders, has already started the culture change in Europe. All the blog post in the aftermath of the conference are clear proofs (Writing for (y)EU, Vilfredo, Public Affairs 2.0, Sylwia Presley, Curious Cathrine, Guide Star International blog, among other).

Next year, I would like to see more of this on the PdF Europe program:

More women, more conversation between the keynotes, a small hack camp within the conference, maybe a new location (I love Barcelona, but London is where the European PdF wheel is turning fastest) – and to be really demanding –  political promises given on stage:-)

What do you want to see more (or less of) at the next PdF Europe?

7 thoughts on “PdF – the European way

  1. Great post Bente!
    I’m glad you liked Paul Johnston so much. We actually identified him while looking for speakers for the Fleishman-Hillard sponsored session on the European Citizens’ Initiative, but clearly he deserved a keynote speech! Very happy he’s been so inspirational.

  2. I’d like to go next time – do you have to be invited or can you register yourself? How do you find out about it – I only heard it was going on too late. How many people are there at the event usually?

  3. Thanks, Laurence! Johnston really nailed it. PdF is full of interesting speakers, but some come out clearer then others:-)

  4. Antonia, you should follow the PdF website http://personaldemocracy.com/ for all the latest news about conferences either in New York, Barcelona or Santiago. You register yourself.
    In NY around 1000 people participate (I think), in Barcelona around 400.

  5. Pingback: Euroblog Round-Up: PdF Europe 2010 | Eurogoblin.eu

  6. Pingback: bloggingportal.eu Blog & Support » Blog Archive » The Week in Bloggingportal: PdF Europe 2010

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