Technology and Politics Collide at the 2008 Personal Democracy Forum

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If you caught last week’s Los Angeles Times coverage of the TechCrunch Primaries, you know we’ve tried to underline the increasingly important relationship between technology and politics – we have to know the candidates’ positions on tech issues.

That’s why I’m happy to announce our support for this year’s Personal Democracy Forum event in New York next week, which will bring together a large panel of experts to explore these issues. This year’s slate includes talks from Vint Cerf of Google, Joe Green of Causes, Craig Newmark, Lawrence Lessig, Clay Shirky, the internet directors of the Obama, Clinton, McCain campaigns and the Republican National Committee, and the CTOs of the biggest voter file companies. The conference will also feature top political bloggers on the left and right, some guys named Calacanis and Scoble, and a strong TechCrunch presence.

The conference is doubly important given this year’s upcoming election. Political agendas have begun to encroach on the technological freedoms we take for granted: As I wrote earlier this month, America is falling behind in broadband penetration and data speeds, due to the lack of serious competition in the marketplace. We need to push the presidential candidates (and congressional candidates) to spell out, as clearly as possible, what they’re going to do about this – something we’ve been trying to do here at TechCrunch with our Tech President primary and podcasts, and something the folks at Personal Democracy Forum, Andrew Rasiej and Micah Sifry (Dave Sifry’s older brother) have also been talking about for a long time as well.

It’s also time for more industry leaders to push politicians to take a more forward-thinking approach to how government distributes public information. We hear a lot these days about how the internet is affecting the election, which PdF will cover from every conceivable angle, but in some ways it’s far more important to look at how we can start rethinking how government works, and how it can more effectively connect with American citizens to help solve problems. PdF is expanding to two days this year to devote a whole day to this issue, and my guess is that come 2009, we’re going to have an administration (either Obama or McCain) that is more open to trying to use the tools of the social web–blogs, wikis, crowd sourcing, etc–to open up governance.

We’ve got five tickets to PdF to give away. Add a comment about why you should be selected to attend, and we will choose the five top answers to win the free PdF tickets.

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