Thinking about Freedom

For the past few weeks, I’ve been involved with a community effort to draft a declaration of freedom for the Internet.  On Monday, it went live on the web, and is starting to get discussed.

It’s been an amazing, fascinating and inspiring year in the internet community.  Today, the Verge has a nicely-produced writeup on the Declaration of Internet Freedom which also gets into the story of the last year of internet politics, including the SOPA/PIPA fight.  I’m really looking forward to seeing how the Internet plays as an election issue this fall, and how we as a community can work to carry our energy and momentum into the next US congress and administration, as well as on the global front.

For me personally, it’s been an absolute thrill ride, as I’ve jumped with both feet into an area of policy, politics and advocacy that is both very close to my heart and also very new to me, in the details.  More than anything I’ve been so honored and excited to be working with an incredible group of people on such an interesting and important set of issues. I feel very lucky.

On the one hand it feels presumptuous and self-indulgent to speak about Interent freedom in the same breath as other independence and rights movements from our history.  On the other hand, I believe that we are on the leading edge of one of the biggest global changes we’ve ever seen, and there are serious issues of freedom and control at stake.  My friend Brad likes to say that the shift to the world of connected humanity and free information is bigger than the industrial revolution — rather, it’s more like the shift from hunter/gatherer to agrarian society in terms of the fundamental changes in how we understand how we relate to our good and to one another.

So while the current debate is still more on the side of nerd politics than pop culture, I think that will continue to change.  And it will be important for more of us to think about the values and power structures that are built into the technologies we use every day.

I think the Internet Declaration is a good start.  I don’t expect it to be the end — rather, I like it very much as a point of departure for discussion.  The day the Declaration was released, this “fork” was published by the folks at TechFreedom, which is worth a read.  And the version I posted on github already has 15 forks including a translation to Polish. (you’ve gotta believe that the founders would have used github if they had had the chance).

So, happy Independence Day.  Here’s to freedom and new frontiers.