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Touchdown in The Fabled Valley: Managing expectations, excitement and encryption policy at RightsCon 2016

I’m on a plane to San Francisco. Finally.

I have quixotically built up this destination in my mind for years. While studying ‘entrepreneurship’ during my undergrad, while helping build a Canadian-based technology-enabled social enterprise startup upon graduation, and generally, while living the nascent software-centric quotidian culture that has come to define the way my peers and I interact with the world, I have long dreamed of making the techie-Hajj. In my imagination, SF/Silicon Valley is Mecca for all things community, inspiration, creation and, of course, technology.

Collectively, this amounts to a considerable emotional connection to a single dot on the map.

So, I’m going to land soon and there is real risk associated with my arrival.

Just as Uber’s founders determined the taxi industry to be ‘ripe for disruption’, I can’t help but think that my inflated expectations are likely ‘ripe for devastation’.

Upon reflection, this seems a classic scenario – one where a dreamer romanticizes the lavish benefits of an impending quest without forcing himself to engage in the necessary due diligence of the journey.  This is otherwise known as ‘disaster’!

In my experience, lurking on this precipice is unenviable. In my experience, it’s preferable to enter an engagement, adventure, or whatever, void of any expectation. When I have adopted this mindset, generally speaking,  I have gotten all of the opportunity for upside without anywhere near as much risk of departing underwhelmed.

Why Now?

I am thrilled to be participating in RightsCon this week. I am as curious as ever about our world’s historical trajectory, logic underpinning current systems and dynamics, and how future challenges and themes will form. Put another way,  I constantly consider how current realities came to be, why that is so, and how the future will evolve. Put yet another way, I am 26 going on 4. The world is complex. It is fascinating.

Furthermore, I feel that the last few years of law school have sharpened my ability to think critically – as juvenile as that sounds. No, countless hours of studying judicial reasoning have not necessarily yielded a transformational understanding of ‘the world’. Arguably, I understand less. The point is that I do in fact feel better equipped to analyze alternative perspectives, investigate root causes and distill sometimes convoluted facts into more digestible narratives.

The ultimate irony here is that more than ever, I feel I have fewer answers than I do questions. But, then again, what sane person would feel otherwise?

Importantly, my cognition is moving. I’m learning. I love it.

For the next few days, I expect RightsCon to bring together an extraordinary range of people, each of whom are patently invested in creating a future predicated on immutable digital rights, responsible Internet governance, dynamic global security and 21st century privacy. This notion is exciting.

I don’t know much, but I do know that my experience is unlikely to match my expectations – at least exactly.

Touchdown! I’m ready.




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