The English PEN evening plenary was a fanastic way to round up the Convention on Modern Liberty. For me, it was the writer and blogger Cory Doctorow’s contribution that really caught the imagination. With his laptop on his knee, he seemed to be pulling snippets and sound-bites from all corners of Teh Intertubes:
Later, the panel were asked what piece of art had inspired them to think about freedoms and liberty:
So here’s what’s really inspired me about our capacity as a society, to enforce (or rather, claim) the rights that are our due – not that the state gives us, but belong to us from the beginning: Its the rise of internet culture, and the rise, for all the bad and all the good, its the rise of a system in which we are all part of a single dialogue, in which we can make any kind of art, and in which any person can communicate with any other person, without any third party intervening, has given rise to a global dialogue that, I think, beggars the imagination of even the most optimistic philosophers of a generation ago.
And I mean that literally – you read the science fiction of the 1960s and the closest they come is they think maybe we would have a really good video on demand service with some video-phone on the side. No-one predicted just how, just, the fantastic Cambrian explosion of genres, of forms, of ideas, and of participation from every corner of the globe, that the Internet has enabled. And that’s for me, why keeping the network free is the first step to keeping us all free.
Its better in video! Billy Bragg, Feargal Sharkey, Paul Gilroy, Henry Porter and English PEN’s President Lisa Appignanesi also answer:
The entire hour long plenary is available online too, along with a full video archive of the entire convention.