Documentary coverage of IGF-USA by the Imagining the Internet Center

CONCLUSIONS: ‘What We Don’t Know About the Future of the Internet’ Rainie and morning plenary respondents finish the session

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panel plenary IGFUSAThe panelists answered questions about finding ways to satisfy desires of people to share freely but somehow pay an appropriate price for the information they gain. “Most in my generation won’t want to pay for things because they are used to things being free,” Gyllenhaal said. “Young people will pay for things we use. I guarantee young people would pay for Facebook. It has become that important for us.”

Andrew McLaughlin came into this discussion in support of the principles many, including Chris Anderson (author of “Free: The Future of a Radical Price” and originator of the “Long Tail” idea in Internet economics), have brought to the forefront of the discussion of Internet economics. “Free doesn’t really mean ‘free,’” he said. “We have lots of media now that is free to the end-consumer in exchange for attention or something that benefits someone else. There will be things you are asked to pay for and things that third parties are asked to pay for.” He added it is important to find ways to properly “vindicate intellectual property rights” online and also address privacy, anonymity and authentication in the right way. “I find the ‘free’ debate to be kind of dissatisfying,” he said. “Free to the end-user still leaves you a broad way to pay for things.”

Lee McKnight noted that the issue is complicated. “It’s not just an issue of free and for-pay, there are barter arrangements that come into play as Internet governance has been progressing in these historic days,” he said. “Economic and competition policy will come to the fore… This is a ripe area for policy analysis and discussion at IGF in Egypt and over time as we continue to grapple over challenges.”

Rainie was asked about education and the Internet as an audience member noted how far behind education is in implementing the advantages of the Internet. “Participation matters,” he noted, saying it has been shown that students enjoy the ways in which they can be more active participants in their education when they can go online in classrooms.

McLaughlin chimed in. “The federal government is a disaster when it comes to using these new tools,” he said, noting that it blocks employees’ use of social networks.

“I hope that people less freaked out by these networks and systems will start running things,” he said, adding that every government employee should have a home page offering information they want to share and affording them the ability to collaborate with others in government. “That would drive a culture change that would be unstoppable,” he said, “and you would get the efficient task-oriented government we are trying to achieve.”

-Janna Anderson, http://www.imaginingtheinternet.org

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