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Campus Party Brasil 2011: The keynote

Updated Tuesday, 8th February 2011

The planet faces numerous challenges in the coming years. Al Gore believes the ideas of individuals and the empowerment of the internet may yet have the solutions, as he tells delegates to Campus Party Brasil 2011.

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Al Gore meets Tim Berners-Lee at Campus Party Creative commons image Icon campuspartybrasil under CC-BY-SA licence under Creative-Commons license
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Campus Party Brasil 2011

Al Gore

Obrigado.  Obrigado.  I am very, very happy to be back in Brazil.  Forgive me for speaking in English but thank you for allowing me the courtesy.  I can’t speak Portuguese. 

I want to say first of all what an honour it is for me to be on the same stage with Tim Berners-Lee.  What Tim did 20 years ago when he invented the World Wide Web was a pivotal moment in the democratisation of the internet making it possible for everyone to connect to it.  I want to thank Ben Hammersley for moderating and my friends Paco Ragageles and Juan Negrillo and everyone in the Campus Party.  It’s been a pleasure for me to see some old friends here in Brazil like Marina Silva and several others who are here.  And before I say a few words, we’re going to have a conversation after these opening comments, but before I make my opening comments about the internet and the World Wide Web, I would like to say from my heart a word of sympathy to all of the victims in Brazil of the mudslides and the flooding.  I know that this nation has been undergoing a great trauma and the world is with you.  We understand how much pain this has caused to so many families. 

I would also like to say briefly that we are at a turning point in the history of world civilisation.  We are here to talk about one of those turning points.  The early days of the internet are still with us.  The potential for the internet and the World Wide Web is vast but we are also in crucial days where global warming is concerned.  The climate crisis has been predicted for a long time to make large downpours like the ones in South Eastern Brazil much more common.  We have seen in the last ten months epic flooding in Pakistan, epic flooding in Australia, epic flooding in Colombia, on the other side of South America, in my home city of Nashville in the United States and in many other locations.  Every day we are putting 90 million tonnes of global warming pollution into the atmosphere.  20% of it that we put up today will still be there 20,000 years from now. 

Your generation using the digital tools available on the internet and on the World Wide Web has a mission to make this turning point in the history of our civilisation a positive one.  We have seen the quadrupling of human population in less than 100 years.  We will add another two billion people in the next 40 years before the population stabilises.  We are using resources with abandon.  We are polluting the ecosphere of the earth most importantly by creating this climate crisis.  But you have seen for yourselves the way the internet can empower individual men and women who care about something better, a better world, a better future, but it is up to you to join together in creating that better future. 

Hundreds of years ago the birth, the rebirth of the ancient Greek dream of democracy came in the wake of an exciting new technology for communications, the printing press.  The Enlightenment followed.  Free markets and free governments came in the wake of this new ability people had to connect to a world of ideas and to select those ideas and those bodies of knowledge that were most interesting to them and seemed to be most closely approximating the truth. 

In more recent decades over the last 60, 70 years, the communications technologies of first radio and then television have served in some ways to dumb down democracy, to turn citizens into consumers, to turn the populace into the audience with one way flows of communication, with people sitting back and simply consuming what was put on their television screens.  But starting 20 years ago and starting before that with the antecedents, but truly starting with the World Wide Web, this new ability for individuals to connect to one another digitally and to explore a universe of knowledge at their own pace according to their own curiosity, and to connect to others who had common interests has reawakened the possibility that we can bring democracy to vivid life, that we can have free markets that are truly free, that we can pass on education and values to the next generation in a much more powerful way. 

But the way you use these tools is critically important.  Follow your hearts toward something better, don’t give up; keep the dream of free people alive.  Don’t let, and here I echo in my closing words, before we go into the interchange, the same sentiment that Tim Berners-Lee expressed; defend the internet, do not let it be controlled by governments or by large corporations.  It is a network of people!




Digital Planet goes to the Campus Party Brasil 2011





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