Re: PFF Agenda [cr-95/9/4]


Pointer from moderator:

Mark Stahlman has sent a message on the subject "Technocrats and the
Mind" which, because of its length, I've put on our ftp site.  I've
learned better than to summarize it.  It's in the Essays directory as



Sender: •••@••.••• (Richard K. Moore)
Subject: Web Review on Aspen

from Web Review

                             Web Review

        SEBASTOPOL, CA. - The Progress & Freedom Foundation, (PFF) a
Washington, D.C. think tank with ties to Newt Gingrich, has been riding
the slip-stream of the House Speaker's rise to power.
        But in an exclusive story in the September 15 issue of Web Review,
David Hipschman reports that the group's recent Aspen conference,
"Cyberspace and the American Dream," was a public relations meltdown that
left prestigious corporate sponsors confused and upset.
        Rather than the legislative agenda sponsors, including AT&T,
America Online, Prodigy, Microsoft and CompuServe, had been promised,
panelists chosen by PFF to represent the Internet community spent two days
lobbing bomb-shells into the corporate camp, Web Review reported in the
copyrighted story.  One panelist pronounced "telephony dead." Another
predicted that the conflict between the citizens of cyberspace and the
unplugged would "end with blood spilled on the borders." Another suggested
eliminating government altogether, except for national defense.
        "This was a meeting in search of a constituency," said Hipschman, a
Contributing Editor at Web Review, author of the newspaper column
Cyberland and former International Editor at the San Francisco Chronicle.
It didn't find that constituency among its corporate sponsors, he said,
nor among folks who spend a lot of time on the Net.
        Web Review, the Internet magazine (URL:
is owned by Songline Studios, an affiliate of O'Reilly & Associates, the
creator of Global Network Navigator and publisher of computer-related
        "It's not often that a twice-monthly magazine on the Internet gets
a news story missed by the mainstream news organizations, but the
traditional media -- strangely enough -- just didn't seem interested in a
story about big corporate donors getting upset at Gingrich's favorite
think tank," a Web Review editor said.
        There was concern among the sponsors, as well as conference
attendees, that the panel chosen by PFF to represent the emerging
"community" of the Internet was unrepresentative. The panelists included
John Perry Barlow, former Grateful Dead lyricist and co-founder of the
Electronic Frontier Foundation, Esther Dyson, an EFF director and writer;
George A. Keyworth II, chairman of the PFF board and former science
advisor to President Reagan, and futurist Alvin Toffler
        "AT&T was looking for something different than what I saw," said
AT&T executive Christopher Quarles. "If these people are opinion leaders,
maybe I'm stuck in the Second Wave."
        Corporate sponsors' expectations were high when the Aspen meeting
began.  "This is the Progress & Freedom Foundation -- they are players
because of Newt," one sponsor said. "They (the PFF) are riding the high
tide and money is coming in from all over."
        Brian Elk, Prodigy's director of public relations said "The
Speaker is making a full-court press to wrestle the cyberspace mantle away
from the Clinton/Gore administration, if he hasn't done that already."
But of the two-day conference itself, Elk added:  "I felt the ball
could've been moved further... (we) did not get any action plan... It was
long on theory and short on action."
        If fall-out from the Aspen conference results in a loss of
corporate confidence -- or contributions -- it could be a serious blow to
the PFF -- and to Gingrich. Both the group and the speaker have benefited
from the linkage between them. The PFF is perceived as the force behind
Gingrich's Third Wave vision of the future and 43 percent of the money the
PFF raised in 1994 went to finance the Speaker's "Renewing American
Civilization" satellite college course.
        The corporate donors paid as much as $25,000 to get their names on
the conference program and expected "action, not two days of cyberbabble,"
as one participant put it. The conference ended with a private
"morning-after" meeting between corporate sponsors and the PFF in which
the upset sponsors voiced their concerns, Web Review reports in its
article "Who Speaks for Cyberspace?"


    (David Hipschman is a contributor to The American Reporter.)

                        *       *       *

 Posted by --  Andrew Oram  --  •••@••.••• --  Cambridge, Mass., USA
                 Moderator:  CYBER-RIGHTS (CPSR)

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