Guardian Activate 2011: Live coverage from New York

Nicholas Negroponte Nicholas Negroponte, founder and chairman of One Laptop Per Child Photograph: Paul Sakuma/ASSOCIATED PRESS11.30am: Adam Bly, the founder and chief executive of Seed Media Group, takes to the podium. His mission is the recognition that science can change the world, through health and energy, but also as a way of thinking.

Our pursuit is making sure there are 7 billion "scientifically-literate" people in the world, says Bly.

11.24am: "Start-up maverick development" is different than traditional development, says Shuman, because it is iterative and has a lean model.

Question Box allows people to physically ask a question to a box, then a remote human operator looks up the answer online. In Uganda, Shuman developed a call centre which answered more than 3,000 questions in just a pilot run.

Now Shuman is looking for funding partners to allow communities to run these projects themselves.

11.22am: Next we have Rose Shuman, the founder of Question Box, talking about start-up development.

About 12 years there was a "reinvention of how business is done" when companies like Google were born, but in the development world – with US Aid, and others – things stayed the same. Now, we have the "advent of development mavericks."

11.19am: People are starting to build tools with Mendeley's open API and Creative Commons license. To encourage that they offer $10,001 for the best app.

Henning cites Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web, who extolled the virtues of unlocking a vast array of knowledge sitting in scientists' computers.

11.19am: Henning's Mendeley helps researchers be more efficient. (Seriously, students, try it out – it's unbelievably useful. Like Microsoft Office crossed with existing research software. On steroids. If Office was useful.)

So far, 80m science documents have been uploaded, making Mendeley the largest research database in the world.

11.15am: About to get underway again here in New York.

Guardian Activate New York 2011 Mid-morning session at Guardian Activate New York 2011 about to get underway

Next up is the "lightning quick visionary sound bites from the brightest names on the internet". Up first: Victor Henning, the co-founder of Mendeley.

10.39am: Negroponte's one utopian wish: to take all military spending and use it all otherwise.

Fabricant: get all network operators to agree on some simple standards.

Newmark: For people to stand up for what they believe in, for as long as they live.

Lessig: To make the US a place where people can change politics, and stand up for what they believe in.

And with that, we depart for a brief break. Back in 30 minutes.

10.32am: Asked about influence of mainstream media, Craig Newmark says that Fox News still sets the agenda in US, but young people on Twitter and Facebook are finding mainstream news "increasingly irrelevant".

Newmark: "By 2020, it won't be a revolution in the media it will be a big rebalancing of power with people curating their own networks of news. That can't come soon enough."

Lessig argues that many of these people curating their own news networks don't vote. Newmark counters that once voting becomes more convenient, more people will vote.

10.25am: Question from the audience on net neutrality.

Lessig argues that in past 10 years Washington lobbyists have "completely removed" idea of unanimity around open spectrum and net neutrality. Hundreds of millions of dollars in lobbying funds has obliterated bipartisanship over the issue, he says.

10.21am: US needs to recognise that we need to "wage a war against fat cats" who unduly influence policy. It won't be politicians who wage this war, Lessig says, it will be us.

He concludes: "We have lost a democracy dependent on the people alone. The question is whether technology can activate the people to get it back".

10.19am: How can technology address this "fundamental flaw" in US democracy? "It helps show how we can join the dots, and engender root-strikers" in two ways:

1) Technology involves and engages people.

2) Technology then inspires people.

10.15am: In US congress, the influence of funders means power gets bent towards them, that then leads to a massive loss of trust among the public – 11% have confidence in our congress, said a Gallup report last year – which then disengage from politics. "And it's not just the kids," Lessig says.

He laments a "lost intention of independence" in US democracy.

10.14am: Finally, Lawrence Lessig, director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, talking about information and democracy.

He says: "Public confidence in truth is affected by money in the wrong place. So to maintain trust, we must ensure proper dependence of government, science, whatever."

10.02am: Fabricant: the network is essentially just transmitting bits of information, but there's something bigger going on: it's shifting the dynamics of how people think about societal issues like disease.

Network is not just about pushing bits, it's about a conversation and feedback: "It's a way of transmitting behaviour." The network is the only way for feedback to exist, and that should be fundamental to what we do.

10.00am: Robert Fabricant, vice president of creative at Frog Design, says the network is getting "externalised". Talking about his experience in Zambia, where networks are also becoming "internalised" and becoming part of society: shows a woman parading her mobile phone as a sign of social status.

9.52am: Newmark describes a free press as "the immune system of a democracy". Says he'd like to create "a more hygienic" version of the free press, through fact-checking and figuring out how to get people to care about the facts. "Fact-checking is important, but we're not getting enough of it anymore."

Newmark pleads: "please stand up for what you're doing, stand up for the organisations that you believe in."

9.48am: Newmark says he's "lost patience with good intentions", and is focused on making things happen.

9.46am: Newmark helps around 100 non-profits around the world, mainly with using social media.

Six weeks ago Newmark started Craig Connects. Long term intent tis to find ways to connect everyone on planet with 10, 20 years: "I read a lot of science fiction, but I do see this thing happening."

9.44am: Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, describes himself as the "Forrest Gump of the internet" but is under pressure to become the "Lady Gaga of the internet".

9.43am: Negroponte: Kids in Cambodia, from villages with no TV, have laptops and are still in school today as a result of that. They drop out of school because it's boring.

People ask for the proof of this project: that is when there's a school with 35% truancy and it goes to zero. "We ship 100 books in a laptop, when we send 100 into a village that means a village has 10,000 books – who had that in their childhood?" Says "paperbooks are toast", purely because you can't get them to kids around the world.

He adds: "Children do a lot more than we give them credit for, just assumption that they can't learn on their own is why education in some countries is so far behind. In Afghan, US is spending $2bn a week on the war, while spending $2m on education. For three and a half days of war, we could have every child in Afghanistan equipped with a laptop in less than a year."

9.32am: Nicholas Negroponte, founder of One Laptop per Child, asks himself one question each morning: "Is what I'm doing today that normal market forces will do? If yes, then stop doing it."

In Uruguay, every single child from five to 15 has a laptop. The most inspirational moment is when children go home and teach their parents how to read and write.

In Peru, even though not all kids have laptops, the president made an important decision to put them in remote villages – those that take two or three days to even get to. The effect of this is the opposite of economic development over the past decade: urbanisation.

One Laptop per Child has distributed 2.5m laptops around the world since its foundation.

9.27am: Rusbridger closes by hinting that the Guardian's US expansion will happen around September this year.

Emily Bell, formerly of this parish, introduces the summit's first panel: How do we create a better world though the networked world?

On stage we have: Nicholas Negroponte, the founder and chairman of One Laptop per Child; Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist; Robert Fabricant, the vice president of creative at Frog Design, and Lawrence Lessig, director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics.

9.15am: Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief of Guardian News & Media, takes to the stage. Starts by saying it's a "total accident" that the paper has fled to New York as the "claustrophobic royal nutshell" takes hold.

This summit's speakers are all digital utopians, Rusbridger says. (We'll ask Evgeny Morozov, author of the Net Delusion, later today whether he falls into that category.) "The new ecology of information is about being incredibly open."

Rusbridger's elevator pitch for the Guardian, which next months celebrates its 190th birthday? "Two words: open and mutual," he says.

9.11am: Hello and welcome to the Guardian's inaugural international Activate Summit.

For the first time, the annual jamboree featuring leading lights from the worlds of media and technology is being held in New York.

Paley Center for Media The salubrious Paley Center for Media in New York, host for the Guardian's inaugural international Activate summit

Join us as we blog live-ish from the plush Paley Center for Media, where Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger is about to take to the stage. Gracing the summit – and this liveblog – throughout the day will be:

Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the pioneering One Laptop Per Child association (both 9.15am EDT – 2pm GMT); Evgeny Morozov, author of The Net Delusion (11am EDT); Krishna Bharat, founder and head of Google News (1.10pm EDT); Katie Stanton, vice president of international strategy at Twitter (4.15pm EDT); Fred Wilson, managing partner at Twitter and Zynga investor Union Square Ventures (5.15pm EDT); Matt McAllister, director of digital strategy at Guardian Media Group (6.15pm EDT).

A full programme for the day can be found here. The hashtag for the summit is #ActivateNYC.

View the original article here


Post a Comment