Keynotes, Fight for the Internet and Open Data (The Internet Days 1/2)

Keynotes, Fight for the Internet and Open Data (The Internet Days 1/2)

“Internetdagarna” (The Internet Days) is one of the most important Swedish conferences for individuals who work with the Internet in various ways. The Pirate Times attended to give you some more insight. It took place 24-25 November 2014  in Stockholm and featured keynote speakers such as Cory Doctorow, Emily Parker, Annie Machon, Harper Reed and the Swedish IT minister, Mehmet Kaplan.

At the Internet Days, people who shape the Internet today and in the future will meet. Last year, we shifted from a classic conference to a forum – a meeting place – where a number of events with various organizers commenced simultaneously. A total of about 15 different events, with a focus on the Internet from various perspectives, took place.

Cory Doctorow keynote (watch the keynote)

Cory Doctorow is a Canadian born author of science fiction books. He’s very active in topics relating to integrity online and open source code.

As a publisher of books Doctorow cited Tim O’Reilly — ‘Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy’. He believes that a lot of the value which creators produce just goes straight into the publishers pockets and that Internet is one way of changing this. Doctorow also pointed out that to do something online you will always have to download it to your computer, thus “The difference between streaming and downloading is that your player doesn’t have a save button”.

The keynote was mainly about the threats to the Internet. He talked about the impossibility of being safe generically and that it was only possible to be safe from some risks. Once you use the Internet you will always leak personal information, we just accept that and resolve our cognitive dissonance around it. “I think we have peaked indifference in surveillance” is how Doctorow put it. He made it clear to the audience that the Internet was more a tool than a solution: “The internet is not going to be the most important fight – but the important fights will be fought on the internet”

Doctorow’s laws:

  1. Anytime someone puts a lock on something you enjoy, that lock is not for your benefit.
  2. Being famous won’t make you rich, but no one will give you money if they don’t know of you.
  3. Information doesn’t want to be free, “it just wants us to stop anthropomorphizing it”

Emily Parker Keynote (watch the keynote)


Next was Emily Parker, an author with a focus on how Internet and social media stands up to the regimes. She talked about grassroots movements in China, Cuba, Russia and the middle east. Parker started off describing the #bluebucketprotest action in Moscow 2010

Parker talked about several countries and how they repress the people there. She emphasized that the Internet is a key factor for activists to be able to connect with each other and not feel like they are fighting alone. It’s often the threat of people using their democratic powers, that is most scary for an oppressive regime: “The most sensitive stuff in China is content suggesting collective actions, more so than critical content”

4 key components of Chinese censorship 

  1. The Great Firewall
  2. Filtered keywords
  3. Human censors
  4. Self-censorship

Each component is essential for them to remain in control and damages the public in different ways. There is technical help to get around firewalls, you can be ingenious in getting around filtered keywords (e.g. writing Jan 35 instead of Feb 4) and human censors can be avoided. However the most dangerous repression is self-censorship and the fear of doing something that is not considered OK.

Other sessions

The first day had a number of sessions happening in parallel: “the best within open data”, “the domain days (day1)”, “one wordpress – thousands of solutions”, “youth and kid’s digital competence”, “Internet is under attack – how do we fight back”, “pitfalls and lessons for a secure development”, “the responsible net” and “Swedish startup sessions”. Each session was loaded with speakers and panel debates from the most competent of Swedish Internet (as well as many international speakers). The Pirate Times chose to focus mainly on the open data sessions and spent some time with the fighting back for internet session.

The right to privacy is for those without power.
Transparency is for those with power.

The fighting back for Internet session discussed a lot about net neutrality and some democracy issues. It took the Organization for Freedom and Rights 10 months and numerous email to get the public ACTA documents from the EU. There was a discussion on if Anonymous is a threat or a possibility for the internet? The maintenance of integrity was proclaimed as essential for a democratic society. Having a balance between safety and progression is a balance where there sometimes is a need to hit the brakes to take responsibility. One  of the speakers also emphasized that putting privacy and secrecy on same side is a false dichotomy. Privacy is about controlling who knows what.

Open data in 4 parts:

  1. Producing
  2. Opening
  3. Sharing
  4. Utilizing

The open Internet session started out with a talk about how “Open Ahjo” is making the city council of Helsinki more transparent. All public data ought to be open by default but open is not enough, you have to do more. Involving people and building communities around the open data is essential for progress.

Especially data journalists are very fond of some open data sets. Another important factor for usability is to display a clear and open license to avoid barriers of usage. ‘Helsingborg’ having a Head of Internet was explained by democracy and Internet being tightly linked together. You can watch the full session on open data afterwards (only in Swedish)

“Make a new misstake every week” is the best tip @jocke has ever received. (startup logic applied)