I have been on the Net since 1990 and have always been interested in its operation, governance and related legal, social and cultural issues. I was on the old ISOCNZ Council for a year in the mid-90s. Attending this year's NetHui enabled me get caught up with the current state play on all fronts and get some idea of who the people are who get things done and make things happen.
There were four streams on each of the first two days. You can see the program here.
The final day (today, as I write) was the "big" day with everyone in the same session. The keynote speaker was Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig....an Internet legend in intellectual property matters.
When a speech transcends mere words it becomes and 'event' and Prof Lessig's speech was an 'event'. One of the very best speeches I've ever seen. You can watch it here. Go to 22 minutes in.
I attended many excellent sessions on "Digital Citizenship", "Access and Enabling", "Internet Governance" and legal issues like copyright and intellectual property. I won't even attempt to summarise all the "good stuff" that happened in the 3 days at NetHui. You can go to the site and read the notes collaboratively compiled by people who attended the various sessions.
Twitter played a huge role (for those on Twitter). Following the #nethui timeline felt like mind reading as other people in the same session as yourself responded to what we were all hearing, as it happened. It was also possible to get some sense of what was happening in sessions in other streams as hot topics lead to bursts of twitter traffic and cascading retweets of points people had strong views about. Twitter played a huge role in the 'mind' of the NetHui and made it something quite different (for me) compared to other conferences I have attended in the past.
Several politicians gave speeches. Some excellent. Some not so much. ICT Minister, Steven Joyce; Finance Minister and Deputy PM, Bill English; Attorney-General Chris Finlayson a;; gave speeches. Some better than others (watch the live streams at the NetHui site if you're interested). Other MPs who attended were Nikki Kaye (Friday), Gareth Hughes (all 3 days), Claire Curran (Friday) and David Cunliffe spoke in the Friday morning session. Claire Curran said Labour would repeal the disconnection provision of the recently passed copyright law, which brings Labour into line with Green Party policy on this contentious issue.
One of the other highlights of the NetHui for me, personally, was learning about "Computers in Homes", an initiative of the 2020 Trust to get people online who otherwise won't be able to do it on their own. I've been wanting to do something about this on the North Shore, but didn't really know where to start. Now I know.
This blog post hasn't even scratched the surface. If you get a chance to attend next year's NetHui, take it.
As a 'geek treat', here is a 3D video of part of the Q & A this afternoon. Lawrence Lessig answers a question about 30 seconds in. (Change to 480p resolution. It looks MUCH better. Once it starts playing you can use the "3D button to select options and change 3D modes. For side-by-side stereo, make sure to also select "full width". If using red/cyan glasses trying setting it to "Swap (left-right)" to get the 3D effect)
(L-R - Lawrence Lessig, Chris Finlayson, Colin Jackson, Judge David Harvey, Ross LaJeunesse and Rick Shera)
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