InternetNZ held NetHui this year, a multistakeholder conference in which we tried to take the Internet out of the server room and to the nation. After all, just about everybody is a stakeholder in the Internet, and there are big opportunities to be uncovered in getting together to discuss how the Internet is governed and used.
There is plenty of information about the fantastic conference on the NetHui web site; for me the real highlight was Lawrence Lessig’s keynote in which he makes the empassioned plea for New Zealand, as a “high-functioning democracy”, to save America from itself, arguing that free information and checks against abuse of corporate power are critical to maintaining a free society.
One of the biggest surprises for me was the willingness of those present to explore alternative models to intellectual property protection, given a general disdain for current copyright and software patent law. I hope to see some real progress in this area in the near future; my contribution to this initiative is to organise a Wellington Creative Commons Meetup where we can work together to explore positive change.
I played a small part in organising the conference, focusing on the Digital Literacy session of the Access and Diversity stream.
The session highlighted that there is a great gulf between those who believe that Digital Literacy is chiefly concerned with teaching underprivileged students how to drive Microsoft Office, and those who believe that it is the duty of our education system to teach people how to analyse information and use the broad range of online tools imaginatively, sensibly, and safely.
I hope to be involved in a full-day session later in the year exploring these issues further with practitioners in the field, encouraging the players to collaborate and work together toward shared goals.
Here is the content of the Digital Literacy session for your own viewing pleasure.