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InfoTech 2015 - Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Roundtable on Information Technology?
The Aspen Institute Roundtable on Information Technology (InfoTech) is an annual private seminar of business executives, government leaders, and visionaries. It examines the implications of emerging information technologies on societies, governments, communities and individuals, and the new leadership roles that are required. 

What is the purpose of this website?
This site displays the report resulting from the annual Roundtable on Information Technology.  The series of chapters, written by rapporteur David Bollier, synthesize the ideas that emerged from participants during the three-day dialogue, look at the advantages and issues of a modern networked city.  The site also highlights the Roundtable contributors, relevant background research and presentations from participants.  The site acts as a dynamic space for viewers to explore the Roundtable content and engage on the topic. 

What is the Communications and Society Program?
The Communications and Society Program is an active venue for framing policies and developing recommendations in the information and communications fields.  As one of over thirty policy programs at the Aspen Institute, the Program provides a multi-disciplinary space where veteran and emerging decision-makers can develop new approaches and suggestions for communications policy.  The Program enables global leaders and experts to explore new concepts, exchange insights, develop meaningful networks, and find personal growth, all for the betterment of society. 

The Program’s projects range across many areas of information, communications and media policy.  Activities focus on issues of open and innovative governance, public diplomacy, institutional innovation, broadband and spectrum management, as well as the future of content, issues of race and diversity, and the free flow of digital goods, services and ideas across borders.

Who leads the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program?
Charles M. Firestone is executive director of the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program. Since his appointment in December 1989, the Program has focused on the implications of communications and information technologies for leadership, the impact of new technologies on democratic and social institutions, and the development of new communications policy models and options for the public interest. He was also the Institute's executive vice president for policy programs and international activities from 1997-2000.

Prior to his positions with the Aspen Institute, Mr. Firestone was director of the Communications Law Program at the University of California at Los Angeles and an adjunct professor of law at the UCLA Law School. He was also the first president of the Los Angeles Board of Telecommunications Commissioners, which advises the Mayor and City Council on all regulatory matters relating to the cable and telecommunications fields.

Mr. Firestone's career includes positions as an attorney at the Federal Communications Commission, as director of litigation for a Washington DC public interest law firm, and as a communications and entertainment attorney in Los Angeles. He has argued several landmark communications cases before the United States Supreme Court and other federal appellate courts. Mr. Firestone is the editor or co-author of seven books, including Digital Broadcasting and the Public Interest (The Aspen Institute, 1998) and Television and Elections (The Aspen Institute, 1992), and has written numerous articles on communications law and policy.

He holds degrees from Amherst College and Duke University Law School and resides with his wife, sculptor Pattie Porter Firestone, in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Who sponsors the programming of the Communications and Society Program?
We would like to thank our attending sponsors of the 2015 Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program for making this and our other conferences possible: AT&T, Cablevision, Charter Communications, Cisco Systems, Comcast Corporation, Google Inc., Intel Corporation, Motorola Mobility, Netflix, New Street Research, Telefónica Internacional USA, Inc., Time Warner Cable and Verizon Communications.

Who moderates the Roundtable on Information Technology?
Charlie Firestone, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program, moderates the Roundtable and all other roundtables produced by the Communications and Society Program.

Who are the participants at the Roundtable on Information Technology?
Over the years many notable participants, including Madeleine Albright, Rod Beckstrom, John Seely Brown, Jennifer Pahlka, Julius Genochowski, Mircea Geoana, Arjun Gupta, Reed Hundt, James Manyika, Craig Newmark and Hal Varian have attended InfoTech roundtables.
Can I attend the Roundtable on Information Technology?
Participants at the Roundtable are a carefully balanced group of key decision makers from the technology and information industries, user and consumer groups, academics, non-profit leaders, and representatives from government that are invited for their expertise, creativity and influential public policy ideas. Participation at the Roundtable on Information Technology is by invitation only. 

Where does the Roundtable on Information Technology take place?
The Roundtable on Information Technology is an annual summer event that has taken place in Sausalito, California and at the Aspen Meadows Conference Center in Aspen, Colorado.

Does the Roundtable on Information Technology have the same theme every year?
The InfoTech themes vary each year, but always examine issues and policies surrounding emerging information technology. Previous InfoTech topics include: “Managing Digital Assets,”The Weightless Marketplace,” “Power-Curve Society,” “The Future of Work” and “The Promise and Peril of Big Data.”  The current Roundtable on Information Technology topic is “The City as Platform: How Digital Networks Are Changing Urban Life and Governance.”