I’ll open with the realities of modern computing and communications: the insecurities and gilded cages that have been built into the infrastructure, and the trade-offs we all make when we decide what to use. These choices are often subtle, but they are almost always based on convenience (for the user and the provider), or an illusion of “free” products or services. Truly free products and services do exist, but they involve trade-offs of different kinds, typically in the amount of time we want to devote to making them work right.
Then I’ll explain the various options and methods that will help peopl recapture some privacy and freedom in your use of technology (assuming you want them). I’ll start with the easy stuff: the tactics we can deploy to be more secure on any computing platform; and ways we can maintain at least some control over what we create. Then I’ll describe the steps we can take to wean ourselves off the proprietary platforms and services and onto ones that make your liberty a foundation principle, not an afterthought.
As I do this, I’ll suggest a “tech-liberty scorecard” that scores how we’re doing, assuming a goal of maximum liberty and security (including safety from government and corporate spies). I’ll also adapt that scorecard for governments and companies, essentially grading them on how much liberty they allow citizens and customers.
Because this is a deeply nuanced issue, I don’t assume I’m getting this entirely right. I will ask the audience for help in identifying what I’m missing and how I can improve the scoring system.
Dan Gillmor is director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship and Kauffman Professor of Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University’s Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication. The project aims to help students appreciate the startup culture of risk-taking, and to foster new media products and services.
Dan is author of “We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People,” a book that explains the rise of citizen media and why it matters; and “Mediactive,” a guide for true media literacy — as consumers and creators — in the Digital Age. He’s working on a new book about tech liberty.
Dan has co-founded, invested in and/or advised a number of digital-media startups. He’s on several boards, including the First Amendment Coalition.
From 1994 until early 2005 Dan was a columnist at the San Jose Mercury News, Silicon Valley’s daily newspaper, and wrote a weblog for SiliconValley.com. He joined the Mercury News after six years with the Detroit Free Press. Before that, he was with the Kansas City Times and several newspapers in Vermont. During 2005 he worked on media projects at Grassroots Media Inc.
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