...all of these are topics that I think fall within the proper purview of this event. And now that they have given me the keys, I am trying to think about how to make it as productive as possible.
Here is a draft of what I might say to open the conference on April 12, 2013, at 9 AM CDT:
Thirty-five years ago my father bought my family’s first personal computer. Eighteen years ago my former roommate Paul Mende told me:
Hey, this World-Wide-Web thing is revolutionizing scholarly communication in Physics via the http://arxiv.org/ web server. You should check it out.
Fourteen years ago I noticed that both of my mentions in the then-most recent Foreign Affairs--one by Jagdish Bhagwati and one by Paul Krugman--had come not from things I had published but from things I had thrown up on my website...
Twelve years ago I decided that somebody should go all-in and attempt to win the intellectual influence game via the strategy of always-putting-something-new-and-interesting-up-on-the-web. And as a guy with tenure at an institution that seemed to me to be the global optimum, I was one of the few people in the world who could do so with no significant possible downside risk.
And today here we all are. Everybody here has at least tried hard to significantly raise the level of the debate wherever their feet have trod on matters economic, and tried hard to raise it significantly above what it would otherwise have been--to evade the dumbness filters that surrounded us and impeded communication and education. We all seem to have come remarkably close to maximizing the win, for some value of “maximize” and “win”, at least for ourselves if not for our institutions and our causes.
But the struggle is ongoing. There is still an enormous amount of headroom.
How do we keep maximizing our collective personal win? What are the tools, networks, and communities that we are going to use and deal with in the future? How will we deal with the other communities and modalities of communication on our borders. We, of course, seek total universal domination. Is that realistic? If so, how? If not, for what should we settle and how should we settle for it? And how do we maximize the societal win?
Does this draft introduction have a chance of triggering the kind of conversation on April 12 that it would be useful to see? If not, what should I say instead? And what else should I say to open the conference? Suggestions welcome.
The conference is invitation only, alas! For our budget and our space is very limited...