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.
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?