Netting the Big Names 

Netroots Nation will feature dozens of panel discussions, keynote addresses, meet-and-greets and other events. For those of us in the geeky worlds of media, politics or the blogosphere, it will be a chance to meet "celebrities" the wider world may never have heard of -- people like pollster Nate Silver or blogger Pam Spaulding.

But there are plenty of well-known headliners -- and discussions that ought to make headlines -- coming to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center as well. In fact a late addition to the conference agenda is former President Bill Clinton, who will deliver the event's opening keynote address on Thursday, Aug. 13.


A handful of upcoming events that ought to make some waves:

9 a.m. Thu., Aug. 13. The Path Forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan
You mean there is one? Oh good. Progressives debate the wisdom of President Obama's decision to send 20,000 more troops to Afghanistan. The panel features discussion by those who've been there.

4:30 p.m. Thu., Aug. 13. Democracy Without Newspapers
This could be the schadenfreude session of the whole convention, as the netroots discuss the fate of those of us in the fishwrap business. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's own Michael Fuoco is a panelist. 

9 a.m. Fri., Aug. 14. Health Care Reform Town Hall
Former Vermont governor, doctor and Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean talks health-care reform, answering questions from the audience and talking about the challenges ahead. 

click to enlarge Sen. Arlen Specter
  • Sen. Arlen Specter

11 a.m. Fri. Aug. 14. Pennsylvania Leadership Forum
For Pennsylvanians, this may be the convention's main event: Sen. Arlen Specter and his Democratic challenger, U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, will square off in a forerunner of the 2010 debates. While Sestak is little known outside eastern Pennsylvania, this will be a home crowd for him -- he's a netroots favorite.

click to enlarge U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak
  • U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak

1:30 p.m. Fri., Aug. 14. Mixtapes to MySpace: How Hip Hop Builds Movements
No less than three Pittsburghers -- activist Paradise Gray, former CP columnist Kimberly Ellis and minister Jasiri X -- discuss how hip hop and progressive politics can advance each other's causes.

Noon, Sat., Aug. 15. Building a 21st-Century Economy
A discussion about how to revitalize the economy in a post-industrial age. Among the panelists are New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine and economist Dean Baker. 

3 p.m. Sat., Aug. 15. How Technology Can Be Utilized to Enhance Democracy in Pittsburgh and Beyond
Pittsburgh City Councilor Bill Peduto weighs in on a panel about how new technology-based approaches -- live-streaming council meetings, deliberative polling approaches -- can change how government does business. Be sure to ask Peduto about how digital billboards can generate momentum for political change.


If your curiosity is piqued, you might try registering online at www.netrootsnation.org/register. (You'll also find the full agenda elsewhere on the site.) But it'll cost you at least $275 (though students may get in cheaper) ... and we can't guarantee there will still be spots available when this issue hits the streets.



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