Update On The Free Summit: Speakers Announced

from the update dept

Wanted to give everyone an update on The Free Summit that I’ll be emceeing next month. We’ve lined up most of the speakers, so check out the agenda. As already mentioned, Chris Anderson will be doing the keynote, talking about some of the concepts from his new book on “Free” (I’m reading it now — and it’s great). There will also be two panels that should be quite interesting. One of the things that we wanted to ensure was that the panels we put together didn’t just involve people who all agreed with each other (or with me, certainly), so that the discussion would remain quite interesting. So, on the panel about music, we’re having Jim Griffin (who I’ve certainly clashed with in the past) from Choruss, the major record label-backed attempt to come up with a new business model for licensing music, Gigi Sohn from Public Knowledge, the public advocacy group that has taken a strong pro-consumer position on copyright issues, and Dave Allen from the seminal band Gang of Four, a big advocate of “free,” and who now helps plenty of other bands learn how to embrace and profit from “free.” It should be an exciting discussion.

We’ve also got a panel on the news business, involving Kara Swisher from AllthingsD/Dow Jones, Dan Gillmor, the director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship as well as one of the first “old school” reporters to jump on the participatory media bandwagon, Alan Mutter, a journalism professor/investor/entrepreneur/former reporter who’s been a vocal critic of newspapers’ decision to go free online (calling it “the original sin”) and Marshall Van Alstyne, an economics professor from Boston University and MIT who has studied information economics and who recently debated with Mutter and others on the Freakonomics blog about news organization business models. There will also be a session from Alex Iskold (another person I’ve disagreed with in the past) who will be presenting on “the dangers of free.”

What’s great about this is that it really is a mix of folks with (sometimes starkly) different opinions — but who all believe quite strongly in their positions and are willing to discuss and defend them. I’m hopeful that what comes out of all of this will be some great new insights from all sides about what “free” means in terms of business models and economics today.

Finally, we’re excited to announce that, as a part of this, we’ll be including a mini-Techdirt Greenhouse at the beginning of the event. For those who have followed Techdirt for a while, you may recall we ran a series of “idea workshops” called the Techdirt Greenhouse, where individuals would do short, 5-minute presentations not as a “demo,” but to discuss a challenge they were facing — and then we broke up the audience into workgroups to take on those challenges and come up with ideas/plans/suggestions. Those events were a lot of fun, and we received a ton of great feedback. We’ve been meaning to start them up again (and we still get emails from attendees demanding we do so), but have been too busy to focus on them — so this is a good way to sneak in a mini-Greenhouse, and also get us geared up to do a full Greenhouse again in the near future. In this mini-Greenhouse, we’ll be focusing on the challenges associated with using “free” in a business model. It should be a lot of fun…

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