What Happened at the eG8 Conference

By Alexis C. Madrigal

The eG8 Forum in Paris sought to bring together leaders from the political and Internet worlds to think about the future of the networked society. Some notables like Cory Doctorow declined invitations, but the event still was star-filled with French president Nicholas Sarkozy rubbing elbows and butting heads with academics like Yochai Benkler, Jeff Jarvis, and Larry Lessig.

Alex Howard of O'Reilly Radar has a full report from the proceedings. He traces the battle over intellectual property on the Internet, where there was a substantial gulf between Sarkozy and Benkler.

Benkler was baffled that opposition to the open model of innovation persists after 15 years, as if "we've learned nothing," calling the assumptions made on the intellectual property panel on the first day of the eG8 laughable. "Whether liberty, equality or fraternity, we all have to be on the same page about retaining an open Net," he said.

There is reason to both hope and fear for the moment that we're in. Governments, telecommunications providers and the content distributors of the 21st century are in some alignment. While the "very architecture of the Internet is its best protection," as Jarvis asserted, he expressed fear about what he'd heard and seen at the eG8. In response, he advocated for an "Internet Bill of Rights" that would push for a right to connect, protection for free speech, and the right to act and assemble.

While a big bureaucratic conference in Paris might not be as exciting as PayPal suing Google or Spotify coming to Facebook, check out Howard's report. It's important to know how the world's political leaders approach the possibilities of the Internet.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/05/what-happened-at-the-eg8-conference/239592/