Welcome to Pocantico and "Beyond Platforms": What you need to know — and a 15-30-minute task to do now that will catalyze our conversations

“​Beyond Platforms: Making the Market for Digital Identity, Privacy and Information​”

Thursday/Friday April 19-20, 2018 Pocantico Conference Center of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Tarrytown, N.Y.
2:30 p.m. Thurs. – 3 p.m. Fri.
Pre-event welcome briefing
Thank-you for joining us at Pocantico for ITEGA’s founding meeting next week. This email provides background and links to information you’ll need, including our working schedule and agenda.  There is also important information about getting in touch right away with one fellow participant in a “conversation catalyst” exercise.
This email is also accessible from the ITEGA website at:   http://infotrust.org/welcome
The following things are covered below:

  1. BEFORE WE GATHER: Your pre-event “conversation catalyst partner” — plan a short phone call right away
  2. ARRIVAL — Transportation / special needs / connectivity
  3. WHAT TO EXPECT:  Our convening purpose and intended outcomesHow do we restore user trust, protect user privacy and safeguard user identity in a way that serves to sustain the values and purposes of journalism?  
  4. PROGRAM STRUCTURE: Light on lecture, circling around collaboration
  5. RULE AND RACONTEUR: Why the Chatham House Rule and raconteur?
  6. CREATURE COMFORTS: Weather / clothing / outdoors



A challenge for short face-to-face meetings on difficult topics is to have a sense of who is in the room and how you might meaningfully collaborate.  We are going to use a practice pioneered by the Journalism That Matters (JTM) organization — the “pre-convening “catalytic conversation partner”. Here’s how it works:

  • You will receive a personalized email within 24 hours that will “pair” you for discussion purposes with one other “Beyond Platforms” participant.  There are multiple reasons why we may have chosen your discussion partner. The email will include contact information and a mini-bio of your partner, plus a link to our all-guest bio book.
  • YOUR TASK is to pick up the phone and send an email and figure out a time in the next few days when the two of you can have a phone conversation — say for 15-30 minutes.
  • During the call,  share what you hope to bring to Pocantico and what you hope will result that helps you.  See what common ground may exist with your colleague. Learn about your colleague’s expertise, mission and intentions.  Take note of any key subjects you both think should be on our agenda.
  • ONE OF YOU take responsibility for making brief notes of the call.  As soon as you’re done, copy and paste your notes, as a comment, to this password-protected URL (the password is “pocantico”):  http://www.infotrust.org/pocantico
  • Return to that URL to see what other pre-convening partners are posting.  “Beyond Platforms” organizers will also be reading the comments and will use them to help guide the flow of our deliberations.
  • Our experience from JTM is that this process works well to open up unexpected collaborations, accelerate the pace, and focus the substance of face-to-face discussions.
  1. LOGISTICS — Arrival, special needs, connectivity

ARRIVAL AT POCANTICO — Aim for 1 p.m. — 3 p.m. latest please
If you are flying in and have not yet made ground-transit plans to get to Pocantico, please email your flight arrival time and airport to wpdensmore@itega.org.  We may be able to match you with another participant arriving at about the same time.  Refer for travel directions to:
Pocantico is a few miles north of the Cuomo Bridge (I-87 / I-287 — formerly the Tappan Zee Bridge)  over the Hudson River in a populated area but is itself lushly open. It is accessed by car via a gatehouse at which you must stop to verify your name is on our guest list.  There is free parking for you as directed. http://newshare.com/pocantico/pocantico-accommodations-lodging.pdf
If you can arrive about 1 p.m. on Thursday you will be able to occupy your overnight guest room and at 1:30 p.m. enjoy the guided tour of the Kykuit House, its grounds, gardens and art gallery, before we gather promptly at 3 p.m.  Later arrivals are still welcomed!


The Pocantico staff is wonderful  about accommodating special dietary or mobility needs.  If you prefer vegan/vegetarian, or are allergic or sensitive to any foods, or might have difficulty walking a paved path or stairs to your sleeping room, please email wpdensmore@itega.org now so we can accommodate you. 
Pocantico’s lodging rooms are each unique and have a variety of bed sizes; if you have a preference and let us know, also by email, we may be able to accommodate!


Pocantico has wifi throughout its meeting and lodging areas and you will receive instructions when checking in.  Because we meet in what was once a stone carriage barn, wireless phone signals can be weak. We do not expect that our work will require Internet or mobile connectivity.  
The two main meeting rooms have large LCD or physical screens and are equipped for video conferencing and slide projection.  Some limited use is planned.


To at least define the domain of our discussions, we’ve declared this as our convening question:

How do we restore user trust, protect user privacy and safeguard user identity in a way that serves to sustain the values and purposes of journalism?

We’ve suggested three conceptual frames around that question: Identity, trust and privacy.  And we propose that the operational questions they raise involve Governance, technology and prototyping.  There will be proponents of various solutions.
You’ll find the question, frames and operational ideas at this link:
Organizers intend these outcomes, but there may be more:

  • Express and firm up launch plans for ITEGA, modulated by what we learn
  • Discover new approaches to answer our convening question
  • Determine what other questions are fundamental to helping the web be more supportive of democracy and the values, principles and purposes of journalism.  
    Defined, but flexible | “Calling” breakouts

The schedule we’ve posted is light on lecturing and circling around collaboration. Even at the points where a specific presenter is indicated, we expect to err on the side of Socratic dialogue rather than mere presentation. But we’d also like to arrive by Friday afternoon at  actionable steps toward agreed-upon goals. To achieve this, here is the schedule we’ve planned: http://newshare.com/pocantico/pocantico-schedule.pdf
An unusual feature occurs during the second breakout period on Friday morning.  All participants will have an opportunity on Thursday and again Friday morning to declare a topic for a breakout session.  For space reasons, we can only support five breakouts. So we’ll have to find a way to conflate multiple breakout ideas down to fewer than six.


A spirit of openness should surely prevail as we discuss trust, identity, privacy and information commerce on the “open” web.  However, as is often the case at the start, great ideas can sometimes emerge more easily when people are not concerned about being quoted or their ideas attributed to their employer.  The British think-tank Chatham House has developed a nuanced approach to this challenge — an event generally open but where all participants agree not to quote either other by name or affiliation without specific, individual permission.  Here is the link, and the rule:   https://www.chathamhouse.org/chatham-house-rule

“When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.”

When we convene on Thursday, we will be reminded that a condition of our presence for “Beyond Platforms” is that we each arriving having agreed to be bound by the Chatham House Rule during and after we meet.
Many of you have probably been part of an event where there was a “raconteur” — a designated observer and analyst who can provide a skilled account of the meeting.  Not quite an independent reporter — as our “raconteur” is part of the event structure and in our case is bound by the Chatham House Rule. We’ll let you know on Thursday if we’ve got a designated raconteur with whom you may wish to talk.


As we write this, it is seven days before we gather.  Trusting in the National Weather Service, Tarrytown, N.Y., where Pocantico is located, is forecast to be partly sunny, with a high of 57 degrees F on both Thursday and Friday, with NO precipitation.
There is no dress code. We recommend business casual  (no ties expected!) and shoes suitable for light walking on paths between our meeting building and lodging.  Pocantico’s general orientation document encourages jogging or walking on the grounds and gardens of this estate donated to the public by the Rockefellers.  We have arranged for a tour of the Kykuit House, grounds and art gallery (with Picassos) from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Thursday. See:
Breaking our meeting into two days provides an opportunity for relaxed conversation in a living-room setting after 8 p.m. on Thursday in what is called the “HayLoft.”  You can see a photograph of the HayLoft and our meeting rooms here:
Thank-you again for carving time out of your schedule to join us.  And thank-you to the Rockfeller Brothers Fund for making it possible for us to gather. Our common goal is to make this short period valuable, memorable and helpful to journalism and democracy. 
Bill Densmore, Jo Ellen Green Kaiser