F2C: Freedom to Connect

WHO: F2C is a meeting of people engaged with network connectivity and applications as vendors, customers, regulators, legislators, citizens and co-creators. This year, the theme of F2C is how networks are changing our fundamental economic and social assumptions. (F2C is produced by David S. Isenberg of isen.com, LLC.)

WHAT: F2C is a two-day meeting where the builders and users of the networked economy engage communications policy makers, network technologists, application creators, and the builders and operators of the new infrastructure.

WHEN: 8:00 AM on March 5 through 5:00 PM on March 6, 2007.

WHERE: AFI Silver Theater, Silver Spring MD. More travel, lodging and venue details here.

WHY: It is written that Freedom of the Press is only for those with presses. Internet technology now makes Freedom of the Press available to about 1,000,000,000 people, one sixth of Earth's inhabitants. How does this change the fundamental operating assumptions of society?

Yochai Benkler, setting the theme for F2C 2007, advances a powerful hypothesis, that lowering the capital requirements of information production

  • reduces the value of proprietary strategies and makes public, shared information more important,
  • encourages a wider range of motivations to produce, thus demoting supply-and-demand from prime motivator to one-of-many, and
  • allows large-scale, cooperative information production efforts that were not possible before, from open-source software, to search engines and encyclopedias, to massively multi-player online games.

Benkler writes,

It is easy to miss these changes. They run against the grain of some of our most basic Economics 101 intuitions, intuitions honed in the industrial economy . . . In the industrial economy in general, and the industrial information economy as well, most opportunities to make things [used to be] constrained by the physical capital requirements of making them . . . In the networked information economy, the physical capital required for production is broadly distributed throughout society . . . The result is a flourishing nonmarket sector of information, knowledge, and cultural production, based in the networked environment, and applied to anything that the many individuals connected to it can imagine.

At we will explore Benkler's hypothesis. What's the evidence? How strong is it? What's the contravening evidence? What are the early indicators, and are they as strong as Benkler would have us believe?

At we will pursue the implications of the scenario that Benkler sketches. Where does this scenario take us? What does it imply? What are the foreseeable consequences? And what are some alternate scenarios?

At we will hear from technologists about new recipes for continued capital improvements. We will also hear from regulators, legislators and other shapers of telecom policy about the prognosis for policy that responds to (or defends against!) the lowered capital requirements of information production.

At we will connect with our fellow co-creators of the future to plan even more collaboration.