To begin with, there is her take on WikiLeaks. It is, at bottom, that whoever stole the cables should be thrown in the brig. But everything else that happened should be regarded as the price of living in a free society. This is entirely fair -- and utterly refreshing, coming from the government official fourth in the line of succession to the President (not to mention the head of the agency most roiled by the cables' release).
More broadly, against a backdrop of overwhelming diplomatic tension about civil protests, she urges the international community to embrace the semi-anarchy of the Internet and social media. Yes, on balance, it looks like things are headed in a good direction, for Egyptians as well as Americans. But given the current climate, one could certainly forgive a sitting Secretary of State for letting the dust settle a bit before kicking up even more.
When it comes to communications technology, however, she does have the advantage of being on the right side of history.
To take one example -- not discussed in her speech -- consider the state of the Soviet telephone system just before the collapse of the USSR. Compared to Western Europe, the Soviet Union had far fewer phones per capita. Which was one reason (among many) for the sorry state of its economy.
Because in 1917, Soviet leadership decided to invest not in telephones, but in a system of loudspeakers all across the country: the quintessential one-way, centrally-controlled technology. And when they got around to building a phone system, all long distance lines had to go through Moscow, so they could be appropriately monitored.
Is Internet any different? Well, yes and no.
In a bricks-and-mortar world, the choice between open and closed, law versus tyranny, is pretty stark. If you half-nationalize a sugar refinery, don't be surprised if foreign direct investment dries up. All the way. Just as if you sometimes (but not always) disappear intellectuals for expressing dangerous political options, it should come as little shock that promising young engineers in your country view it as yet another reason to head to Menlo Park.
But the Internet is infinitely adaptable, and many countries are betting that it can support a uniquely modern half-open, half-closed hybrid -- the economic benefit without the civil liberty.
China is the obvious example -- but remember that even North Korea, without any home-grown tech to speak of, is reported to have a fairly advanced 3G wireless data network. (Built by an Egyptian contractor, no less.)
Still, while the Internet does not represent the end of history, it is certainly a deeply discombobulating new chapter. If telephones, airplanes, radio and TV have made the world much smaller, the lesson of the last few weeks is that the Internet, Facebook, Youtube and Twitter have made it immeasurably younger.