Ross Stapleton‐Gray: There are three of us today. My name is Ross Stapleton‐Gray, pres­i­dent of TeleDiplomacy Inc, and I’ll give a lit­tle bit more of my bio as I go into my talk. To my imme­di­ate right is Geoff Sears, my GC, who will give his own bio. And on his right is Kathy Watkins, our online activist.

What we’ll be cov­er­ing is just the gen­er­al issue of polit­i­cal infor­ma­tion on the net. And actu­al­ly I think prob­a­bly all three of us are in some­what agree­ment that the gov­ern­ment on the net is maybe the least best‐poised to make use of this, or the most chal­lenged by polit­i­cal speech on the net, the pol­i­tics of the infor­ma­tion flow­ing around the net. I come at this from the posi­tion of—as a for­mer Fed. Those of you who know me know I was at CFP 93 as the CIA ana­lyst speak­ing on the future of war fight­ing diplo­ma­cy, and intel­li­gence in the infor­ma­tion age. I’m now in the pri­vate sec­tor, hav­ing met the woman I mar­ried at CFP 93, a for­mer staffer for Jerry Brown. So I think I might mer­it the Came Longest Distance in com­ing to CFP 5.

I spent the last year of my gov­ern­ment tenure work­ing with the IITF, the Information Infrastructure Task Force, in explor­ing issues like gov­ern­ment infor­ma­tion dis­sem­i­na­tion, see­ing from the inside what the infor­ma­tion tech­nolo­gies and net­work­ing were doing to gov­ern­ment. And in many ways they’re not doing well for gov­ern­ment and by gov­ern­ment. They are often­times a threat, cer­tain­ly an imped­i­ment and an obsta­cle.

When I orig­i­nal­ly sort of con­ceived the idea of His Master’s Voice” (a pun on the Victrola ad, and George Washington’s admo­ni­tion that gov­ern­ment was a dan­ger­ous mas­ter), I had the idea that we should talk about how gov­ern­ments might use the Web, might use the net, to politi­cize and dri­ve home issues fol­low­ing say, the exam­ple of what the US gov­ern­ment at the nation­al lev­el does with pub­lic diplo­ma­cy. The work that Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, Voice of America say, was called upon to do in the Cold War. What I saw, and think­ing about over the last month or so is a lot more…government behind the 8‐ball. Government being stressed and threat­ened by these very tech­nolo­gies. And stressed and threat­ened by a lot of indi­vid­u­als and orga­ni­za­tions out­side of gov­ern­ment.

For exam­ple, I think what’s hap­pen­ing with elec­tron­ic tech­nolo­gies will absolute­ly crip­ple parts of gov­ern­ment in terms of things like FOIA. Back when con­ver­sa­tions and thoughts and plan­ning meet­ings, etc. were large­ly ephemera, you didn’t have this issue of gov­ern­ment being yanked out into the sun­light right and left every oth­er turn. I’m a strong believ­er in FOIA. At the same time, from some­one who spent the last month of his gov­ern­ment career as a FOIA offi­cer I can tell you what an enor­mous headache it can be. And how it has a stul­ti­fy­ing effect on the abil­i­ty of the gov­ern­ment to sort of think coher­ent­ly. You end up under the gun, under scruti­ny to a degree which is not the case with orga­ni­za­tions out­side the gov­ern­ment, oppo­si­tion to gov­ern­ment.

The gov­ern­ment is fac­ing an… The Vice President charged an ear­ly meet­ing at the IITF that we should think of ways to get every gov­ern­ment employ­ee on the net. Get every employ­ee email. Giving every employ­ee email gives every lit­tle employ­ee inside this large orga­ni­za­tion his or her own voice. The dis­so­nance that can come out of that can be absolute­ly threat­en­ing to a large orga­ni­za­tion and I think over the course of our dis­cus­sion we’ll talk about how even large, friend­ly, lib­er­al out­side-gov­ern­ment orga­ni­za­tions maybe thrashed to death by the fact that they’re com­prised of indi­vid­u­als who may have dif­fer­ing agen­das and who now have a voice for what it is they’re doing in these new media.

My wife and I have worked on putting the National Organization for Women online, only to see old NOW and new NOW become very…they’re very dif­fer­ent things. Old NOW was an orga­ni­za­tion with a nation­al head­quar­ters, that received infor­ma­tion from its chap­ters and impart­ed infor­ma­tion from its chap­ters, and with the edi­to­r­i­al review it had on the con­tent of the com­mu­ni­ca­tions. For exam­plem if Eugene, Oregon now does a won­der­ful thing it’ll be picked up and report­ed on by nation­al NOW and told to Little Rock NOW. And Little Rock NOW will hear the best and bright­est from around the orga­ni­za­tion. Well now the fact is that the dis­si­dent in Spokane NOW can say, I real­ly don’t like nation­al NOW because…” out on the net. And you see a flow of this com­mu­ni­ca­tion, which can be awful threat­en­ing to large hier­ar­chi­cal orga­ni­za­tions, as well‐meaning and benign as they might be. Or as threat­en­ing and omi­nous as they might be.

I won­der if the nets aren’t above all a threat to large orga­ni­za­tions. Or a threat to the coher­ence of large groups of peo­ple. I won­der if rather than deal with the thought that maybe gov­ern­ments will malign­ly grab the net and use it to pro­pa­gan­dize we shouldn’t be wor­ried more that any large thing will be shak­en to its roots and frag­ment­ed into the lit­tle dis­so­nant bits that can hap­pen now that we’ve giv­en a voice not to every mas­ter but to every employ­ee. Or every of the mas­tered. That can be very good in some ways, and we may shake apart North Korea, we may desta­bi­lize China, or Russia may have frag­ment­ed. But if the Republican and Democratic par­ties both frag­ment, and the AFL‐CIO frag­ments, and General Motors falls apart… [audi­ence mem­bers cheers] And yeah I knew I’d find some audi­ence for that. We may see what say, Esther was talk­ing about over lunch. I don’t think I want to live in the Russified or the Moscow‐ified rem­nants of a for­mer first‐world pow­er as the tools for not just dis­sent but frus­tra­tion are hand­ed to any­one who’d like. I’d love to think that these tool of com­mu­ni­ca­tion will lead towards greater con­sen­sus or greater abil­i­ty to work with each oth­er. Many times it’s giv­ing every­body a mon­key wrench they can throw into the gears.

So, let me end with that and move on to Geoff, who can talk more from the per­spec­tive of some­one whose orga­ni­za­tion pro­vides a forum for many many groups, and who sees how those groups are using the medi­um. What we’ll do after the three of us have spo­ken is throw it out for ques­tions and what I hope we’ll do then is both respond to ques­tions and inter­nal­ly dis­cuss our dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives on things relate. Geoff.

Geoff Sears: Thank you, Ross. My name’s Geoff Sears, and I’m the direc­tor of the Institute for Global Communications in San Francisco. We’re a non­prof­it online ser­vice provider an Internet ser­vice provider, and I want to empha­size non­prof­it and what that means. That means that when we look at whether we were suc­cess­ful or unsuc­cess­ful every year, it’s not mea­sured in terms of how much sur­plus mon­ey was gen­er­at­ed but how much of oth­er, some­times difficult‐to‐measure use­ful things that we did.

We run PeaceNet and EcoNet. We’re prob­a­bly bet­ter known as those. And those cur­rent­ly com­prise about 11,000 sub­scribers in the United States, through a net­work of cur­rent­ly eigh­teen part­ner orga­ni­za­tions. We also pro­vide sim­i­lar kinds of ser­vices to about 20,000 oth­er sub­scribers in 133 coun­tries. These sub­scribers are, by our own choice, pri­mar­i­ly non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tions and activist types of orga­ni­za­tions, and indi­vid­u­als. People con­cerned with envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, pro­tec­tion of human rights, social jus­tice, eco­nom­ic issues, things of this sort.

My expe­ri­ence of doing this— And we we’ve been around in var­i­ous incar­na­tions since 1982, mak­ing us one of the old­er ser­vice providers, odd­ly enough. But my expe­ri­ence in doing this has led me to have what seems to me a kind of rad­i­cal­ly dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive on what’s impor­tant out there than what I keep hear­ing. I hear a lot about the prob­lem of access to infor­ma­tion, and how peo­ple need access to infor­ma­tion. I hear a lot about how this tech­nol­o­gy is community‐building tech­nol­o­gy.

I think both of those are a lot of bull. I don’t think this stuff—that access to infor­ma­tion is an issue at all. And I don’t think that this tech­nol­o­gy is community‐building tech­nol­o­gy at all. And I’ll go and explain what I mean by com­mu­ni­ty also. I think we need to be clear on some of the terms.

But first on access to infor­ma­tion. Virtually none of the orga­ni­za­tions we work with are inter­est­ed what­soever in using the net to access infor­ma­tion. There’s a lot of infor­ma­tion out there. It’s in the live pub­lic library. You can look it up in a lot of dif­fer­ent for­mats. It’s rel­a­tive­ly hard to use the net to look up infor­ma­tion. Maybe this will change over time. I cer­tain­ly see inter­est­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties for the future. But far and away, what peo­ple are inter­est­ed in using the tech­nol­o­gy for, and what I see as it being rev­o­lu­tion­ary at is in pub­lish­ing infor­ma­tion.

We will get orga­ni­za­tions all the time who come to us and need to put up—and want to put up, their own information—something they have cre­at­ed, or cre­ate their own iden­ti­ty on the net. And they see it as use­ful for get­ting the word out about what they do to a cer­tain seg­ment of the pop­u­la­tion. And every­one is very clear that this…this is not the whole pop­u­la­tion. This is white men with rel­a­tive­ly high incomes, pre­dom­i­nant­ly. I ful­ly agree with every­body this needs to change over time. But that isn’t real­ly the great inter­est of most of the orga­ni­za­tions we work with right now. They see this tech­nol­o­gy as a tool to get some­thing done. It’s not replac­ing oth­er tools. Maybe it’s help­ing to save some mon­ey because it’s cer­tain­ly cheap­er putting out your web page and run­ning a cam­paign on the Internet than it is doing direct mail, par­tic­u­lar­ly as postage costs increase.

So what we’re real­ly focused on doing is work­ing with groups to fig­ure out their strat­e­gy of using the net to mobi­lize a cer­tain con­stituen­cy around cer­tain issues, to edu­cate peo­ple, and to pub­lish an increas­ing­ly diverse range of infor­ma­tion about them­selves.

The sec­ond main func­tion we see of the tech­nol­o­gy is in com­mu­ni­ca­tions, right along with pub­lish­ing. And prob­a­bly even more impor­tant to the orga­ni­za­tions we work with, it’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­o­gy. It’s the abil­i­ty to link up every­body in an orga­ni­za­tion with their col­leagues, whether they be in a dif­fer­ent coun­try or just across town, for rapid and infor­mal com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

And this leads me to why I don’t think this tech­nol­o­gy is community‐building what­so­ev­er. And maybe it’s just…you know, my response is con­di­tioned on who we work with and what we do, but this is what I call peo­ple net­work­ing.” It’s putting peo­ple togeth­er who share com­mon inter­ests who have a com­mon agen­da, and want to accom­plish a cer­tain goal. And it’s help­ing them, pre­sum­ably any­way, accom­plish that goal more effec­tive­ly because they can com­mu­ni­cate bet­ter.

What I see is a com­mu­ni­ty is much more some­thing that’s…locality-based, that’s geo­graph— that’s based on where you phys­i­cal­ly are. Where I live in San Francisco, in a way an aver­age San Francisco neigh­bor­hood, I think peo­ple like me from Northern European descent are in the minor­i­ty. The major­i­ty are Chinese‐speaking, oth­er Asians, a high pro­por­tion of Russian émi­grés. You don’t hear a great deal of English on the street or on the bus when you go around. People from all dif­fer­ent polit­i­cal beliefs and all dif­fer­ent kinds of val­ue sys­tems.

For exam­ple, to me mak­ing my back­yard beau­ti­ful meant spend­ing weeks break­ing up all the con­crete and haul­ing it away and plant­i­ng things, mak­ing things grow. My next door neigh­bor who I like quite a bit, his view of a beau­ti­ful back­yard is it’s com­plete­ly paved and paint­ed green. There’s no need to sweep up any leaves or any­thing like that, it’s nev­er messy. To me that’s what a com­mu­ni­ty is. It’s being there and deal­ing with peo­ple who are com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent from what you’re like. That is my com­mu­ni­ty. I’m forced to deal with these peo­ple. We live togeth­er.

That’s not what I see the net being. The net is, as I see it, increas­ing­ly allow­ing much small­er groups of com­mon inter­est groups to come togeth­er and do things togeth­er. Which I think is great. I think it’s incred­i­bly use­ful, I just don’t want us to see the net as the ulti­mate good. Maybe we just need to know what it’s good for and when to switch off the com­put­er and go do some­thing else. It kind of reminds a lot of the argu­ments have been hear­ing late­ly about tele­vi­sion, and how the major net­works, their pro­duc­tion of mate­r­i­al that peo­ple may find offen­sive for sex­u­al or vio­lent con­tent, that that needs to be reg­u­lat­ed some­how because it’s offen­sive. I think it’s kind of crazy in a way. I don’t know how these peo­ple are going to be con­trolled any­way. To me the sim­ple solu­tion is if you want to be respon­si­ble about what your chil­dren are watch­ing, you switch off your TV. [some applause] Or you do what I did, you put it in the base­ment. To me that’s also a lot eas­i­er than try­ing to get CBS to change their pro­gram­ming.

So in any event, this is what— I mean, I’m still excit­ed about what the net is. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s an incred­i­bly use­ful tool. I just don’t see it as some­thing that’s going to imme­di­ate­ly democ­ra­tize our soci­ety or turn every­thing else around. If any­thing, I prob­a­bly tend to agree with the out­look of Jerry Mander, that pre­dom­i­nant­ly com­put­ers and com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­o­gy are tools of the elites. And if we aren’t con­scious of how they’re used, they def­i­nite­ly tend to chan­nel more resources and more con­trol into the hands of the peo­ple that already have a lot of it. And that cer­tain­ly is why we’re very much against much of any leg­isla­tive con­trol over the net­work. I tend to agree with the sen­ti­ment that many have expressed here that these tend to be self‐regulating, and that the com­mu­ni­ties we work with need to get out there and make use of this tool to change some of the exist­ing pow­er struc­tures. And that’s what it should be used for on. We’re see­ing this kind of thing hap­pen— And these appli­ca­tions I’m talk­ing about are based on real expe­ri­ence of work­ing with all sorts of large and small orga­ni­za­tions, from Amnesty International that’s able to use the net very effec­tive­ly to mobi­lize cam­paigns to get peo­ple out of prison, to vir­tu­al­ly all of the major envi­ron­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions that use it pre­dom­i­nant­ly for com­mu­ni­ca­tions and for propaganda‐generation. It’s intend­ed to influ­ence what peo­ple know and what they do, and to change their actions.

So that’s why I real­ly think that we’ve been plac­ing too much empha­sis on the impor­tance of access to infor­ma­tion. I think we need to place the empha­sis on using the net to pro­duce a greater vari­ety of infor­ma­tion, a greater diver­si­ty of infor­ma­tion. And as that hap­pens per­haps access to it will become more impor­tant and more peo­ple will be drawn to it. There’ll be greater jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for get­ting access to it. This actu­al­ly is how I orig­i­nal­ly became involved in it, that odd­ly enough I orig­i­nal­ly got into mess­ing with the Internet and com­put­er com­mu­ni­ca­tions when I lived in the Philippines. And I worked for a non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tion there, and togeth­er with a cou­ple Filipino pals we put up some BBS sys­tems that dealt with land reform issues. But it became imme­di­ate­ly appar­ent to me the pow­er of this tech­nol­o­gy to pub­lish infor­ma­tion for vir­tu­al­ly noth­ing, and the abil­i­ty to com­mu­ni­cate that over vast dis­tances. And with that inter­na­tion­al per­spec­tive I became very excit­ed about the pos­si­bil­i­ties of help­ing Americans become much more aware, and have much greater con­tact with dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives and in dif­fer­ent coun­tries, and not hav­ing that medi­at­ed by the peo­ple who cur­rent­ly con­trol infor­ma­tion. The Time‐Warners, the CBSes, and you know, prob­a­bly soon Microsofts and some of the oth­er large cor­po­ra­tions. And I think if you believe that access to tech­nol­o­gy is the key issue, you’ve kind of swal­lowed hook, line, and sinker what Newt Gingrich and Bill Gates and peo­ple of their ilk want you to believe. Because they’re the ones who are pub­lish­ing, cur­rent­ly, the bulk of the mate­r­i­al that’s out there on the net.

Thank you very much.

Ross Stapleton‐Gray: Kathy.

Kathleen Watkins: Hi. My name is Kathy Watkins and I’ll intro­duce a lit­tle bit about myself. I think the fact that I have a lot of small things going on is pret­ty typ­i­cal of how activists real­ly work. I’m going to talk about being a real live activist.

I’m the part‐time admin­is­tra­tive direc­tor for CARAL, which is the California Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League. We’re an affil­i­ate of NARAL, which is a nation­al orga­ni­za­tion. And we work in the elec­toral and polit­i­cal are­na get­ting pro‐choice peo­ple elect­ed and defeat­ing anti‐choice peo­ple, and we have a very sol­id mis­sion, which is to alter the rela­tions of pow­er and make sure that the voice of the pro‐choice major­i­ty is actu­al­ly reflect­ed in our laws.

So I do that part‐time. In my oth­er part‐time, I work as a con­sul­tant with Internet Literacy Consultants, get­ting busi­ness­es online. ILC has a mis­sion that involves also get­ting a lot of non­prof­its online, and I do a lot of that kind of work for them. But I do, to make a liv­ing, actu­al­ly help cor­po­ra­tions get on the Internet.

I pub­lish a newslet­ter called The Choice‐Net Report, which is pub­lished irreg­u­lar­ly, when­ev­er I get around to it. And it’s about…it’s a com­pi­la­tion of things that I per­son­al­ly think are impor­tant in the nation­al scheme of things and I’m not see­ing report­ing on it any­where. So I pub­lish it myself, and I’ll talk about how I came to doing that.

I also coor­di­nate the polit­i­cal sec­tion of The WELL Gopher sys­tem. I host a polit­i­cal con­fer­ence on Women’s WIRE, and I teach sem­i­nars called The Internet For Activists.

So my focus is real­ly on get­ting activists online, and women, women‐owned busi­ness­es. People who are not a part of that 85% white male major­i­ty that every­one talks about.

The way I got online is…it’s very messy, it’s not very pro­fes­sion­al. But it’s typ­i­cal of how activists I think get kind of drawn in and seduced by the Internet. I was pro­duc­ing a tele­vi­sion show called Deadhead TV, which was dis­trib­uted across the coun­try to com­mu­ni­ty access sta­tions in 1988. And I want­ed to get in touch with Deadheads, who seemed to have this thing where they were talk­ing to each oth­er on com­put­ers. And then when they would get togeth­er in actu­al phys­i­cal loca­tions at Dead shows where I was video­tap­ing them, they had all these friend­ships estab­lished and they had a community—I tru­ly believe it is a community—which involved them being online and com­mu­ni­cat­ing in a dai­ly way and then get­ting togeth­er in phys­i­cal space with each oth­er. And I want­ed to know more about that and com­mu­ni­cate with them.

And so I got an account on The WELL and it was a very brief time before I dis­cov­ered the rest of the online world. I kin­da hopped over the wall to the rest of The WELL to see what was going on out there, and it was fas­ci­nat­ing and it was won­der­ful, and it was mirac­u­lous. And I stayed involved in it, kind of watch­ing it grow, call­ing myself a pow­er lurk­er. I pret­ty much lurked every­where.

And even­tu­al­ly I end­ed up stop­ping pro­duc­tion of Deadhead TV and get­ting involved in 1992 in CARAL and in the 1992 elec­tions. I want­ed to work on the issue of abor­tion, I want­ed to work in pol­i­tics, and I want­ed to help get the right peo­ple elect­ed. And so I went to work for CARAL and start­ed using what I have found out on the Internet world for my job, which was try­ing to com­mu­ni­cate with peo­ple.

And things were evolv­ing. Gopher was just com­ing along, you know. I learned about FTP and then I learned about Gopher. I was very excit­ed about Gopher and then, you know, the Web stuff came along. And I took it upon myself to pub­lish our infor­ma­tion, to make it avail­able, to put our vot­er guide online so that when peo­ple searched for the word abor­tion” they found our infor­ma­tion. That was my num­ber 1 goal. When I went out, when I first got online and the tools became avail­able and I searched for the word abor­tion, I found lots of anti‐choice stuff. (What I call anti‐choice.)

And it dis­turbed me that I wasn’t find­ing any­thing that was use­ful to me. And that peo­ple who were doing the same thing I was doing, if you were a col­lege stu­dent doing a paper on abor­tion and you did a search, you were gonna find all of this, and none of that. And so it was impor­tant for me to put some of that up there, and that kind of defined what my rela­tion­ship was going to be, which was pub­lish­er of infor­ma­tion. And I start­ed putting up as much as I could, and even­tu­al­ly start­ed doing The Choice‐Net Report, which could get to more peo­ple because I could email it to them.

The most impor­tant thing that I did dur­ing that whole peri­od of time was make actu­al con­tact with actu­al oth­er activists, real‐life peo­ple. In my Internet sem­i­nars, I repeat as a mantra that the most impor­tant thing that you’re going to find out there, the most impor­tant piece of infor­ma­tion is who put that there and why. And behind every byte of infor­ma­tion there’s a per­son. Somebody put it there. Frequently the most impor­tant thing you’re going to find out when you’re out look­ing around for things is the lit­tle thing at the bot­tom of a web page that says who cre­at­ed it. Because that is some­one that you can get in touch with. That is a real human being who you can share infor­ma­tion with in the future.

And that is what activism is all about. It’s not about—in my hum­ble opin­ion it is not about rail­ing against the state. And it’s not about try­ing to crush insti­tu­tions. It’s people‐to‐people inter­ac­tion. And you’re inter­act­ing with peo­ple on your side, but you’re also inter­act­ing with the people—the actu­al human beings—in the insti­tu­tion. And the more that we can focus on that, I think the more pow­er­ful activism can be. It’s also one of things that’s caus­ing a great deal of trou­ble for insti­tu­tions, because they’re find­ing peo­ple who work with­in the insti­tu­tion are in touch with all of these peo­ple from the out­side all of a sud­den. And that gen­er­ates an infor­ma­tion loop that wasn’t there before. The per­son inside insti­tu­tions get­ting infor­ma­tion from the out­side that con­tra­dicts the offi­cial pol­i­cy, or the line of the day that the orga­ni­za­tions’ cho­sen to go with.

And also, the peo­ple inside the [insti­tu­tion] are leak­ing infor­ma­tion out to the activist com­mu­ni­ty when some­thing both­ers them. And insti­tu­tions are hav­ing a very dif­fi­cult time deal­ing with this. And it doesn’t mat­ter if they’re a mag­a­zine, or a polit­i­cal orga­ni­za­tion, or the Democratic Party, or the Republican Party. It’s hap­pen­ing to all of them. The ones that are deal­ing with it the best are fig­ur­ing out ways to actu­al­ly engage in the process. And the ones who are hav­ing the most trou­ble with it are the ones who are in deep denial.

And I think that NOW has done a good job, just by putting their infor­ma­tion out, just by acknowl­edg­ing that this pow­er­ful tool exists and that they are going to some­how be a part of it even though they don’t know what it means. And they sud­den­ly have all of these peo­ple talk­ing to them and com­plain­ing about things direct­ly to their face, when they had a nice struc­ture over the years for how things are dealt with. You know, you had chap­ters, you had state orga­ni­za­tions, you have nation­al orga­ni­za­tions. Policy flows. Feminist the­o­ry involves you know, the process in which infor­ma­tion flows back and forth. And all of a sud­den there’s this noise, there’s this stuff all around, and a lot of insti­tu­tions are expe­ri­enc­ing fear around that. And they have to go through the process where they actu­al­ly have the illu­sion that they can con­trol it. And then they get to the point where they real­ize they can’t con­trol and they have to respond. And then they respond poor­ly and get flamed a lot for that, and they get to the point where they real­ize that they have to hon­est­ly respond. And all of this activism is actu­al­ly chang­ing these insti­tu­tions in ways that I think is just begin­ning.

I think what we have in front of us right now is a very nar­row win­dow of oppor­tu­ni­ty in which we the peo­ple in this room and oth­er peo­ple like us are going to influ­ence the way that things are done in the future, for decades. How cen­sor­ship pol­i­cy is decid­ed right now is going to have a very long influ­ence, I think. How we talk about pri­va­cy. What hap­pens to the pri­va­ti­za­tion of gov­ern­ment infor­ma­tion? For an activist like myself, when the California State Legislature came online, we were able to reduce our use of a state lob­by­ist. It had a direct impact on us. We had had to hire some­one in the state capi­tol to fol­low leg­is­la­tion for us and tell us when a bill is going to go to com­mit­tee, and what the sta­tus of it was, what bill had been intro­duced.

And we now do that every day. I sub­scribe to a ser­vice that the state of California pro­vides, where every time there’s a change to a bill they’ll send me a piece of email. And it’s a very use­ful thing. It’s like hav­ing you know, my own lit­tle lob­by­ist inside my com­put­er. So I know that there’s a hear­ing com­ing up and I know that with a few phone calls I can get a cou­ple of peo­ple there who can maybe actu­al­ly have some kind of impact on that. And I can send them a copy of the bill. And I can send them the list of amend­ments to the bill. And they can read it for them­selves. And that is an amaz­ing­ly pow­er­ful tool that we have not had access to.

The same thing is hap­pen­ing with nation­al leg­is­la­tion. For years a group like CARAL was depen­dent on the nation­al group NARAL to tell us what bills were being intro­duced in Congress. And every day, every morn­ing, as I drink my cof­fee I look up the word abor­tion on THOMAS to see how many bills there are. And I know that today there are sev­en­teen bills that have the word abor­tion in them. Two weeks ago there were thir­teen. The day after this Congress was sworn in there were five. And I’ve been able to fol­low the process of each one of those. When a new one pops up I can read it right away. I can email some of those peo­ple that I’ve had con­tact with and tell them you know, This is a bill that I think that you’re going to want to fol­low. Here’s the text of it.” And they can go fol­low it for them­selves.

So I think that we have to focus on the pol­i­tics of—or one of the things I’m see­ing activists focus on, it’s not even I have to tell you what to do or you have to tell me what to do. I’m see­ing activism hap­pen about the Internet itself, which gives me a lot of hope. I’m see­ing this com­mu­ni­ty respond to the deals that are being made in Congress right now about monop­o­lis­tic telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions pol­i­cy. You know, are we going to grant a monop­oly to some­one for the next ten years? And you all are fol­low­ing that and doing some­thing about it, and shar­ing the infor­ma­tion. Everything that’s hap­pen­ing around that is activism, and that gives me a great deal of hope because it means that there are peo­ple who are using this tool to engage in the act of cit­i­zen­ship as opposed to engag­ing in the act con­sum­ing a prod­uct. And the more peo­ple do that and the more pow­er­ful those peo­ple are, the bet­ter it’s going to be in the long run for those of us who have less pow­er and less access to that.

The insti­tu­tions, obvi­ous­ly, are being forced to change. And I think this is the oppor­tu­ni­ty, this is the win­dow of oppor­tu­ni­ty. We have to help them through that. We don’t have to destroy a nation­al insti­tu­tion or large bod­ies. We can help them through the process. We can clue them into what a flame is and the fact that you will sur­vive it, and it’s going to be bet­ter in the long run to deal with the prob­lem right up front and help them fig­ure out how to do that. Because it is very strange to peo­ple who have had con­trol over what peo­ple say about them to sud­den­ly find a world that’s carp­ing at them.

And I think one oth­er thing that I want to say is that I’m get­ting con­cerned about the amount of what I call fear­mon­ger­ing going on about the Internet. Because it keeps away the very peo­ple who I’m try­ing to get on. When peo­ple focus on sex­u­al harass­ment online, I then have to con­vince a woman that even if it hap­pens she’s going to sur­vive it before she’ll go online. It puts up anoth­er bar­ri­er to some­body say, Why should I put myself through that? Maybe this isn’t for me.” And that may be some­one for whom the tech­nol­o­gy will change their lives.

So it both­ers me a lot… What I’m hear­ing from peo­ple who say you know, The Internet is addic­tive and so you shouldn’t go on there. There’s child pornog­ra­phy so you shouldn’t go on there…” We can focus on what­ev­er we want. There’s child pornog­ra­phy on the street if you want to walk into you know, the back alley book­store in any mod­ern city you’re going to find child pornog­ra­phy. But I don’t run into it every day. I don’t see pornog­ra­phy on the Internet. It’s not where I go. It’s not in my face all the time. I’m not get­ting harassed online except the peo­ple who per­haps dis­agree with me polit­i­cal­ly. Which is okay.

But it’s impor­tant to me that we under­stand that it’s not enough. It’s not enough to just say oh there’s pornog­ra­phy, or oh we’re pay­ing too much atten­tion to com­put­ers and we have to go out and smell the ros­es. So I just want peo­ple to be aware that when you do that, or when you see that being done it’s cre­at­ing a bar­ri­er for some­one who real­ly should be encour­aged to get online rather than discouraged by that kind of stuff. Everyone thinks there’s a lot of focus on what the pos­i­tive is to be online and we have to be real­ly care­ful of the neg­a­tive. But I encour­age you to talk to peo­ple about the pos­i­tive aspects of what this has to offer.

And I also encour­age the peo­ple in this room to adopt some peo­ple. You already know more about the Internet than 99% of the pop­u­la­tion. Adopt a cause that you believe in and help them to through this. Help them get online. Help them get their infor­ma­tion out there. The only rea­son that I know as much as I do about all of this is that I was adopt­ed by some­one who is a com­pul­sive teacher, Matisse Enzer, who want­ed to teach me every­thing about this. He knew that the inter­sec­tion of pol­i­tics and the Internet was a place where I should be and where peo­ple should be.

And all of you can find some­one like that who you can share your equip­ment with. You know, give them your castoff modems, and help them through this. And get em online. And keep hope alive. That’s all I got­ta say.

Ross Stapleton-Gray: A couple of comments before we go to questions. One, this panel would have hosted and unfortunately was not able to, but should be the panel to acknowledge the work of Jim Warren in getting the California information online, and serving as a beacon. And if nothing else he's filled many of your mailbox far more than you would have expected. Jim will be here tomorrow and we can all say we're not worthy.

Second, just to comment on leading organizations into cyberspace. My wife has done a fair amount of work. My wife Sarah has done work with the action group, the ones that go out there and do call the chapters and say, "Incidentally, a bill on abortion was introduced today." The proactive sense that the hierarchy passes the information down.

And they did a survey and it said, "How many of you all would like to get your stuff by email rather than these phone calls and faxes we've been making?" And the response was a tiny tiny fraction. And her despair was that wasn't going to change anytime soon; better go back to phones and faxes even though she is the online activist of the family and I'm just the policy wonk.

My response to her was the other side of the coin. Maybe we ought to go find all those cyber-capable NOW members and make them want to run for chapter president. Make them want to run for chapter secretary. Pull the people who are Internet literate, as you're saying, into the groups. Make them take up a cause more than being told by the chapter president, "There's an action, can you fill out some postcards, can you make a phone call to your neighbors." Get some of them involved in the guts of moving information around the organization as their first cause.

And last I thought, if what people want on the net's the ability to publish, maybe we should have a plan to provide universal write-only access to the Internet. So if anyone's got questions about political information online, I'll even respond on issues of the ominous threat of governments using the net, but…question?

Audience 1: Okay, I'm gonna set up a strawman so…Mr. Sears and Miss Watkins can light it on fire. Do you feel like the Internet is swallowing the activist community? I mean, five years ago when I was working with Oregon NARAL, we were worried about getting people out to do NARAL activities. We weren't worried about, oh my god there's legislation on the books right now being discussed that's gonna make it hard for us to keep doing activism. Whereas now, we have large activist pushes to make sure the laws don't do weird things to our communications system. Is that swallowing our activists?

Kathleen Watkins: I'll tackle that. One mailing list that I belong to that is the most interesting reading every day is a list of people who do clinic defense around the country. And those people are engaged in a maximum way in your ground-level activism. The Internet is an extra tool for them that is helping overcome things like isolation from each other. It's helping us keep from recreating the wheel, find something that works and share it. And also there's an emotional support kind of thing that goes on when you're under attack every day and you kind of need to share that…people were yelling at you all day today. But that's an example to me of how the two coexist.

Also I would say that by having direct access to the legislation, we are much better activists. Because we are able to turn around and talk to the people in our office the same minute, the same day, that we find it out, or that it comes up. We're not waiting for a national organization to take the information in, process that through their decisionmaking machinery to decide what it means. We're deciding for ourselves what it means. And we are telling other people what it is and what we think it means, in a much more rapid way. I think that we're better activists for it.

Geoff Sears: Yeah, I absolutely agree. I see it [in] all different issue areas, activists making effective use of the net.

Stapleton-Gray: Question?

Audience 2: It's actually kind of similar. I'm a net activist myself. And one of the problems that I have found is in mobilizing people to act. People get online, they read something, they get really angry. And then they flame. And they don't get out and do something practical. They don't take it back to their community. Do you have any suggestions for how to bring the net back out? I mean, we know how to get activist groups on the net, how do we get the net back to a local community activist situation?

Watkins: Well I can tell you one of the ways I deal with it is that I have different lists of people that I want to get information to. There are people I call. There are people I send emails. There are people I know I'm going to have a meeting with them in a couple of weeks. And when information comes in to me, I try to put it in one of those categories, so that I'm passing it along all the time.

And I'm also finding that when people get excited about getting on the Internet, about getting on America Online and stuff, kind of the newness of it and the freshness and the concept you're gonna have accurate information about your issue every day is one of the things that gets them involved in actually doing things. You know, you can only say to people for so long, "Write a letter to your Congressman," before you actually feel guilty and have to write one yourself.

And I've seen that happen to people, you know. They get really involved and they want to help by spreading the information, and after awhile it's like… And I ask them, "Did you write your letter? You know. I know that you sent email to fifty people, did you write your letter?" I think that helps.

Sears: I'd add one thing to that, that it's a process of time, I think becoming an activist. That people to have to start getting up to speed on what the issues are, feeling comfortable that they know something about it, to be able to take action.

And the second thing I'd say is that you as someone say, publishing information, trying to use the Internet for this purpose and actually putting out information in any format, really thinking about some very specific, simple things to ask people to do. So you know, one might be here's the phone number of your local representative, give him or her a call. Or can you go out and talk to four of your neighbors about this, or post this at your office, or just giving people some simple things they can do in a couple minutes so that they don't have to think of it themselves.

Watkins: I also want to just say that citizen activism and apathy, the apathy of the citizenship of this country is like a global problem. It's something that we're facing all over the place. Pro-choice apathy is something that you know…it's very difficult for organizations like us because everyone believes the issue is safe. And everyone they know can get an abortion so what's the problem? And overcoming that apathy and getting people back involved with our government is I think where we are at right now. We're at the beginning points of that. And I'm hoping that we can bootstrap on Newt Gingrich's and the Dittoheads excitement about the possibility of doing that. I think they're going to open up a bunch of tools that we can use, that I can use.

And I think that they are creating groundswell of people getting involved with their government again. I have a lot of faith in people. I'm an eternal optimist, so I think that eventually that's going to sift out into people doing the right thing. I think we have to go through a period of maybe…adjustment, and falling out around that. But I do think that we are at a period in time when there is more grassroots activism than there has been for ten years. I mean, there was not a lot of grassroots activism except maybe in the environmental movement in the 80s. But there are a lot of opportunities right now. So I think the world is helping you excite people, and you have to help the world excite people and give them direction. I think that's the best way to get them active.

Stapleton-Gray: Apathy was not…in part engendered by the tools like the TV and like the computer, and I can sit glued for six hours to a screen. But they're not the sole causes, and they will never be the sole salvation. We need to fix some real world things and use these tools, and in fixing the real world find better ways to use the tools.

Question here.

Audience 3: One of the things that you mentioned right at the start of your conversation was the idea that having all these access points would shake up different organizations, and one of the ones you mentioned was General Motors and I think NOW is another one. I could see NOW being taken up, but General Motors I just can't see being shaken up by the Internet.

One of the reasons is that General Motors has a fairly specific focus, which is making cars for profit. NOW has a large number of people who might differ at times with each other, and as a consequence will post different things to the net in terms of trying to argue their point. And where this might lead with more and more organizations with various levels of progressive intent adding more and more things to the net is no one will have a chance to actually read all of the stuff. You won't be able to keep up. You will bury yourself, which is what a large number of my students do when they get onto the net: they spend all of their time on the net, they don't do any of their homework, they fail.

So, there are some downside to all of this access to the net. I'm not saying that it can't be used as a good tool and I think the one that you mentioned, the monitoring of state legislatures or the Congress and the state of particular bills is a useful function, but sadly it's a monitoring function. I don't know how much the net can be used in a positive way to communicate, and if it does start getting to be a positive thing, will it get flooded with a whole bunch of useless messages so that people end up wasting their time and then it becomes a useless thing?

Stapleton-Gray: Oh, I think it's been a useful thing that's been flooded by useless messages oftentime. So is your assessment that the net is no threat to General Motors? Was that part of the initial question?

Audience 3: I just found General Motors an odd one to be on your list of things [crosstalk] that it was a threat to.

Stapleton-Gray: Oh, I think it's an interesting case. It may be moving off the issue of politics, but maybe… I think this applies to large organizations of any sort. You're suddenly—you're sort of raising the activation level. I think the net maybe a threatening thing to any large collection that had previously held together either by like politics of like geography. And that has a lot of interesting implications.

Watkins: I think that what's gonna happen is that you'll see more and more internal company debates in large corporations getting out, where they've been able to keep them secret. What is useless information to one person is another person's absolute love. And if you are a car safety activist, and if you lost a loved one to an unsafe car, you're trolling the Internet for information about car safety. And if you run into somebody who's a disgruntled employee internally who feels that maybe something could be done to make the car safer but the company's not into it, you have an opportunity right there for activism in a way that would have been possible but improbable before. Because you couldn't find each other. And what the Internet offers you is that ability to find people who are interested in your thing. A lot of what I engage in every day is absolutely useless to most people. But to me it's really critical information that helps me think I'm making a difference in the world.

Sears: One example of that happening is we've seen as the World Bank has gotten connected to the Internet, various organizations who actively work against World Bank projects making connections with internal staff who share some of the same feelings and internal documents…somehow becoming available. So it happens.

Audience 4: Hi. I'm sort of an activist myself in a number of the same areas you are, Kathy, and some others as well. And I've gotten a little pessimistic. And that is that I don't see, and perhaps I'm wrong and I hope I am, that the online community is making a difference as far as influencing policy. Just for example the digital telephony issue, I'm sure probably most of us were alerted. And most of us sent…I sent email and snail mail to all my representatives.

It didn't make a damn bit of difference. They don't have to listen to us. The people behind the Beltway know they can get reelected without paying any regard whatsoever to what voters think. And I think that's the reason for a lot of the apathy, and I'm not sure—I mean right now we're dealing with this Exon/Gorton thing, and we're all of us going to be deluging the network with messages stressing how we feel about it. And I'm not sure it's going to make any difference. And if you think it will I'd love to hear you explain why you think we can do some good here. Thank you.

Watkins: I think it will make a difference if it's say part of an overall strategy. Congressional recess is coming up right now. They are going to be in recess. They're going to be at home. You can go knock on their door and tell them, to their face, what you think of it. And the fact is that the population of the Internet is made up of people who can get an audience with a congressperson, frequently. They are white, employed men who work in technologies that these kind of people have to follow.

And I think because they care, and because they're organizing, they're learning this process, we're all learning this process. I think there is a possibility for some change around those particular bills. I have faith that enough people have taken this on as their issue, that they're going to follow it through. They will go to a congressional visit, they will go to a town hall meeting when their congressman is in town, and they will call them on it. And you know, it's kind of… I don't know what to tell you except that I'm an eternal optimist. I believe that people are starting to get very interested in taking back their government. And I'm very very happy to see how much activism is happening on the net around these bill, because I think it will spill over into other kinds of bills as well.

Sears: I would say the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, and what you perceive as the war lost I think many people would say was the first shot or the first battle in something that's going to go on much longer.

When you've say, won the heart and mind of the Senate staffer who next time a bill like this comes up is going to give you the information earlier on so there's a little more prep. Or when the next bill comes out and they say, "Yes yes, we let you have digital telephony but not this one." Or when a Congress— I'm sure there were congresspersons whose minds were changed even if the outcome was what it would have been had none of all this net activism happened. We don't know what these many intangibles are gonna produce and what comes later. I'm inclined to believe that a lot of good happened out of all that, even as most people in this room would probably say that digital telephony was the disaster of last year.

Stapleton-Gray: Strategy's definitely the key word to me. Just because the technology exists doesn't mean it will do anything. It's how you use it. I think yesterday there was an article in The New York Times about how students at some incredibly large number of universities, it might've been 200—something like that, across the country are planning coordinated demonstrations against what I call the contract on America. And because they were able to use the net to do that, they could get a much larger group of students to take part in it, that you couldn't really do in the same period of time using any other technologies. But again, it's what the message is, how you craft it, how you target. It's not what the technology is.

Watkins: And the other thing to remember about activism is that it's never really over. A bill gets passed in the House, it still has to go to the Senate. Gets passed in the Senate, it still has to go to conference committee. It gets passed and enacted into law, and the next year you start introducing amendments to it to chip away at it. And that's how the law is made. It's an ongoing process and it's constantly being created. It's never over.

Stapleton-Gray: And this year it's an unfunded mandate and gosh darnit maybe we'll have a recision of that funding.


Audience 5: A question for the panel. Recently when Senator Gorton attached the Exon/Gorton bill to the telecom reform bill, when asked in the committee hearing if there had been opposition to it he said, "Oh yes, those Internet people were very complaining," even though the phones were jammed. Are we not slitting our own throat in using these networks as our primary means of communication and being lumped into one small interest group when we in fact run the whole spectrum in some cases?

Watkins: Well, I think that goes back to the issue of, it's only a part of it. Sending your email, or writing a letter is only a part of what you do. You have to personalize yourself to those people. And you do have to get involved in the political process. You do have to meet their staff person and say, "Look. Me and 300 other people who live in this district are communicating by email, and we're talking to our friends."

You have to talk the language of politics, which is about numbers and voters and turnout. And pressure. And business. And a lot of us are actually engaged in commerce. We are the businesspeople of this country, in addition to being citizen activists. And we are the people that they are supposed to be listening to. We are the people driving this economy. And we have to just keep making that clear. You can be both an activist and a participant in the political process. And the way that they've been framing it in the past is that you are either a participant—you know, you're a businessperson and so you have access at the table and your issues are serious—or you're an activist, which is you know, an outsider carping at the institution. And what I'm interested in doing is breaking those things down and having the people inside the institution be part of the activist community, which I think can make a big difference.

Stapleton-Gray: A lesson to take from this is to do better networking in the non-electronic sense. I think one of the most fascinating things to come out of both Clipper—well, I think specifically digital telephony was to find out that in the same camp are you know, long-haired freaks like us, and Barry Goldwater.

And so, if you bring a AARP to the table against the Exon bill, because they have been educated past the initial blush of child pornographers, if they start thinking that what this is is a liability for their own intimate conversations, which many old folks tend to have, that it's an assault on any citizen's conversation or thoughts, that it can affect them more than this first blush, you know. When Louis Freeh says there are child pornographers lurking behind every bush, if you can get AARP, which which the Congress listens to, to stand up and say< "We've heard your argument, we've heard theirs. We're not netheads but we think they're right," that'll sell a bill. Or sell the opposition to the bill.

Audience 6: I wanted to respond to a comment that you made, Ross, about large political organization and institution responding to the new technology. And the point that I want to assert is that the technology already is making the decisions for us. And that the technology is actually the source of all…is actually the source, such that I think the people that're really driving it are people like the cypherpunks and people like Phil Zimmermann, and you know, people working on the [Digicat?], that they're actually making the decisions and it's really the institutions that are responding to it.

Stapleton-Gray: Well, what I said was large organizations, whether or not they adopt it, will be affected very strongly by it. And that I don't think that it tends to support a large organization even if they adopt it. If every NRA member was given an email account and they could all confab about NRA issues, I'll bet there will be an opposition bunch up in Madison, Wisconsin that says, "Preserve the right to own a handgun but machine guns we have a problem with." And immediately when you have a little machine gun/no machine gun debate among the NRA that gets blown up in the press. And you end up with fissures and cracks in an organization that heretofore had done pretty well at presenting a united face when what they had was newsletters, hierarchical communication, and their lobbyists.

Now when any NRA member can be their own effective information-gathering lobbyist, and when many organizations can network apart from the single national structure… All I was saying was that large organizations, whether or not they adopt the technologies, may be in the same sort of twilight that we saw in the Cretaceous period, and that it's the dawn of the little squeaky mammals. Maybe the the singular Zimmermans or the small herd of cypherpunks. But the large organizations are under a lot of stress and at great risk.

Sears: Here's another fun example, the AFL-CIO started a forum on CompuServe they call LaborNet. It's a private forum. The only people who can get access to it are shop stewards above a certain level. They don't let any rank and file into it. You wonder why? You know, they're afraid of their organization being totally transformed and maybe being forced to turn into something that actually represents the rank and file again.

Audience 6: Well, is there any possibility of them actually surviving that? Or how would they survive, given that individuals have so much more power that they didn't have before?

Stapleton-Gray: I don't know. I get fairly pessimistic about the survival of institutions, and I know folks out there are cheering at the death of many large institutions. But it is our…sort of like the personal filibuster accorded to anyone in any organization in some ways. And we may have to move beyond that. We may have to declare a time out. No email this afternoon because we're gonna get together face-to-face and actually hash out some of our differences, as has been done in at least one company. We'd declare computers off limits because we've got more important things to do. I haven't reached the Cliff Stoll extreme of wanting to go throw pots and eat jam. But there's a lot of problems with these technologies that eat away at or otherwise traumatize organizational structures we've enjoyed. In some cases for the good, some cases for the bad, but maybe we don't want to sweep them all away at once.

Watkins: I think that institutions have an opportunity to either reinvent themselves or crumble. And there is a way to survive this, and that is to set up mechanisms where the rank and file, the people who belong to the institution, have a say. Where they get to vote. And where the institution learns how to respond faster to things. Maybe they have to decentralize. Maybe there's something that they have to do that makes them faster, and sharper, and quicker on their feet. But if they are a lumbering dinosaur, and they only have one way of relating to the world and they refuse to change, they're not going to make it, I think.

Unless they have…you know, they're all different. If you have a constituency made up of a homogeneous group of people who take orders very well, and who aren't into question you, who will accept the information that you send them via email and go do things with it and not talk back, you may also be able to survive.

Stapleton-Gray: We're down to about the two minute warning so we'll take the last two questions, I hope.

Audience 7: Okay. I'd like to start by applauding all three of you for being out and being public people and taking stands that are unpopular. And one of the reasons it occurred to me to applaud you for this is because part of what we've been hearing from one another through this gathering is a fear that people will be tracked for their political beliefs, and that others who disagree with them will be able to find them, whether it's a government or not.

So, I was wondering whether you think about this in terms of organizing, whether you think people need to have an awareness of what they're doing, or whether it's safe and everybody might as well just you know, climb on in 'cause the water's fine.

Sears: Well, I got death threats during the Gulf War. PeaceNet was not uh, popular with everybody. That actually cheered me up. It made me think we might actually be doing something useful. So, no, it's probably never safe to take controversial positions no matter how you do it, and how you're known. And the net certainly is well-known for allowing flame wars and people to behave in manners they probably wouldn't behave in face-to-face situation.

Watkins: Well I work on an issue where people are harassed and threatened and killed for believing what I believe. So it's something that pro-choice activists have to think about all the time. I have to make the decision about whether I'm gonna put a bumper sticker on my car that's pro-choice because you know, I attend so many places and rallies my car would be easy to identify outside. You know, I have to think about where do I put my home address. So there are issues that you have to think about with all of this, but it comes down for me to something that somebody told me a long time [ago], which is you either stand for something or you'll fall for anything. You either have to take a stand and be a participant, or you're taking up space. So you know, there are things worth standing up for and worth endangering yourself for. And your life is going to be in danger because you're saying what you believe, what kind of a life will you have if you just quietly go along. My perspective.

Stapleton-Gray: Let's take the last question, then. You were at the mic.

Audience 8: Is this all just going to degenerate into having the fringe elements on both sides sending mail bombs and flame wars and hacking each other's things, or are there any sort of mechanisms that may kind of let each group do its thing without trying to sabotage the other one?

Sears: I think the net…the tendency is to allow a lot more ease of disruption than of construction. I don't know—I think the solution to that is off-net. I think we will by consensus among ourselves decide to make the world a little nicer than it is, not because the technologies help us and the net fosters that but because we decide we're sick and tired and won't take it anymore. And we need to play nice. I tend to be fairly pessimistic about the ability of the net to construct something grand in the social sense. Too many tools for destruction and not enough for construction.

Stapleton-Gray: Thank you very much for a great panel. I think everybody learned a great deal and learned about some new things. Thanks to all three of you.

Help Support Open Transcripts

If you found this useful or interesting, please consider supporting the project monthly at Patreon or once via Square Cash, or even just sharing the link. Thanks.