It is a time of reflection. We have done the boom. We have done the bust. What remains? Whatever became of the Information Revolution? Were the details of the revolution sold at a liquidation auction or shredded just prior to the investigation? And what has become of the Telecommunications Act of 1996? Are rumors of its death greatly exaggerated?
In 1998 Wired Magazine declared that the revolution was over. Four years later and we see that the declaration of victory mistook a preliminary skirmish for the battle. As reflected in the papers at the 2002 Telecommunications Policy Research Conference, now comes the hard questions. Intellectual property papers at the conference questioned the role and ownership of information in the new age. Eli Noam questioned the role of academia on the path from boom to bust. Gene Crick gave a keynote on the plight of community networks in underserved neighborhoods. Dan Hunter reflected on the transition of Internet culture from open network to closed property where exclusion is normative. And the never-ending conundrum of broadband deployment was thoroughly revisited. We are in a period of transition from the open innovative end-to-end Internet of old to an uncertain future where some prophets foretell a network controlled by a few incumbent massive corporations with a different vision of the revolution.
TPRC is a showcase of the best academic research examining communications and information policy. It is an oasis, replacing shallow and tired rhetoric with deep analysis and hard data. The work presented becomes woven into the policy dialogue for years to come. I should know; I am one of those senior government officials whose thinking is annually altered by the excellent work of TPRC.
TPRC is also an annual Herculean sprint of a dedicated program committee divining each new conference and a devoted board of directors with the mission of perpetuating and overseeing the 35-year TPRC tradition. Thanks to the Program Committee: Ed Balkovich, Rand Corporation; Andrew Blau, Flannery Works; Paula Bruening, Center for Democracy and Technology; Barbara Cherry, Federal Communications Commission; Robert Frieden, Pennsylvania State University; Anne Hoag, Pennsylvania State University; Mark Lemley, University of California— Berkeley; Elliot Maxwell, Sam Paltridge, OECD; Bill Rogerson, Northwestern University; and Sharon Strover, University of Texas. A special thanks to Anne Hoag who played a vital role in the success of this year's conference.
Thanks to the board of directors: Benjamin M. Compaine (chair), MIT Program on Internet & Telecoms Convergence; Robert Blau (treasurer), BellSouth D.C.; Marjorie Blumenthal, Computer Science & Telecom Board; Michael Nelson (vice chair), IBM Corporation; W. Russell Neuman, University of Michigan; Adam Clayton Powell III, Powell Communications; Lawrence E. Strickling, and George Vradenburg, AOL Time Warner. A special thanks to the leadership of Ben Compaine, whose efforts were tireless.
There must also be a particular thanks both to the program committee and to the board for giving me this opportunity, tolerating my antics, and rewarding my efforts by volunteering me to chair the conference for yet another year. Additional thanks go to Danya International, Inc., for their tireless effort in administering the conference.
Finally, thanks to the TPRC community. It is an unusual and unique group. Participating in TPRC is like presenting to a community of friendly vultures, always ready to pounce. It is peer review at its best. For the young, TPRC is a resource of mentors with a wealth of knowledge. TPRC is an ongoing discourse in a democratic ideal of beating on ideas until translucent to light.
Long live the dialogue!
Chair, TPRC Program Committee 2002