Dyson at the eG8: You don’t need to be from the Internet to believe in liberty or free speech

At the eG8, 20th century ideas clashed with the 21st century economy. The inaugural eG8 forum, held in Paris before the G-8 summit of global leaders, showed that online innovation and freedom of expression still need strong defenders. As Nancy Scola reported at techPresident, at the at the eG8, civil society groups restaked their claim to the ‘Net.

Several attendees, many who had traveled from the United States, strongly questioned whether the Internet should be regulated in the ways that Sarkozy implied. The “value of internet is not just efficiency but also transparency,” tweeted Esther Dyson, “a much better regulator than government could ever be.”

I spoke further in with Dyson in an interview embedded below. What matters about the eG “is that you have a lot of people being exposed to one another and you have a lot of government people being exposed to people they don’t normally listen to,” said Dyson. “As usual, it’s not what happens up on stage, or what happens on the video: it’s what happens on the tweets, in the personal interactions, in the dinner afterwards, and in the back hall of the meeting. And that – that was positive. The world doesn’t change overnight, mostly. ”

She spoke to the concerns of civil society about eG8 recommendations: “It is sort of justified. Some of them were precanned. I actually sat down with my guy after doing my panel and changed them. I don’t think that happened with all of them. But again, the community is aroused: it’s going to make its points around this.”

Dyson also emphasized the universality of some of these concerns and what’s at stake. “You don’t need to be ‘from the Internet’ to believe in liberty or free speech.”

How are startups helping the global transparency movement? “They’re providing tools to make the data meaningful,” said Dyson. “They’re providing tools for people to share the information. They’re providing the communication tools, again, that allow from everything from Wikileaks to people communicating with reporters. Tools like your phone, connected to the Internet, so that you can record interviews not just with me but with all of the other people you talk to, upload them, people can share them, people can comment on them. That’s all technology.”

Dyson shared other thoughts on the eG8 and Internet freedom, including how entrepreneurs are changing the world through their work. Dyson also shared an insight that transcends technology:

“Even when you have a revolution, what makes the revolution works is what changes in people’s minds, and that’s what’s going on here,” said Dyson.

“The world is changing. People in government are not special. They should be as transparent as everybody else. People deserve privacy. Officials, governments, institutions, they all should be transparent. That’s new thinking, and it was being heard.”

About Alex Howard

Alexander B. Howard is a DC-based a technology writer and editor. Previously, he was the Washington Correspondent at O'Reilly Media, where he covered the voices, technologies and issues that matter in the intersection of government, technology and society. If you're feeling social, you can follow him on Twitter, like him on Facebook or circle him on Google Plus In addition to corresponding for the O’Reilly Radar, he has contributed to the Huffington Post, Govfresh, Mashable, ReadWriteWeb, National Journal, The Atlantic, CBS News and Forbes. He graduated from Colby College with a bachelor's degree in biology and sociology. Currently, he is a resident of the District of Columbia, where he lives with his greyhound, wife, power tools, plants and growing collection of cast iron pans, many of which are frequently used to pursue his passion for good cooking.