May 17, 2007

Won't be at ONI censorware conference - couldn't get travel documents

To anyone who saw my name on the attendees list on the ONI "Future of Free Expression on the Internet" conference in England, sadly, I couldn't get my travel documents in time, so I had to cancel out, regrets.

[If you want to read some ramblings of an "inside view of net-politics" regarding the problems of someone close enough to the elite to see inside, but far enough removed to still be an outsider, I've put it after the jump, so as not to bore people who don't care about such indulgences.]

I attend, as I sometimes describe it, between 0.3 to 0.5 conferences a year, and I've never traveled outside the country. It's just not a part of my life. When I happened to see that the OpenNet Initiative was having a "Global Internet Filtering Conference 2007", I signed-up, for many reasons (one being that maybe I should be there to defend myself ...). Then, later, when I went to book a flight, I realized, uh-oh, I don't have a passport. In an ideal world, I would have thought of this earlier. But again, having never been out of the US, the vital mental association of travel-to-conference-in-England == need complicated government document, was not made soon enough.

If I were part of the club, I'd have the necessary documents already, as a basic cost-of-doing-business. But I'm not. In fact, I'm looking at spending a day on a plane, then another day back, not to mention between airfare and hotel, this is likely to cost me around a thousand dollars, and that's by no means trivial (I did not get rich in the Big Bubble, and there's times I'm quite aware of it, though of course even being able to consider a trip to England puts me far above average).

So it ended up being another little lesson that I'm not really cut out to operate at the level I'd need to be, in order to make a difference. Sometimes it's little "cultural" things that trip you up.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in activism | on May 17, 2007 12:37 PM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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Anyway, you'd probably find your $1,000 wasted, you being on a no-fly list, etc.

You could always try 'selfcasting' what you would have said, e.g. via

If you had flown out to see us in Old Blighty, even given 12 hours' notice, I might well have driven the 100 miles just for the pleasure of a couple of heckles... ;-)

Posted by: Crosbie Fitch at May 17, 2007 02:13 PM

I wasn't scheduled to be a speaker, so there's no issue of putting a speech online, or even heckling.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at May 18, 2007 08:42 AM

Presumably, being about 'free expression on the Internet', much of the conference will be available as a BitTorrent download with a suitably free licence.

And then, given a free licence, you can overlay your own audio commentary and publish that.

And then, I can publish my version with a couple of overlaid heckles.

Who needs to fly?

Posted by: Crosbie Fitch at May 18, 2007 12:24 PM