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  Ms. Jonah, 
  You wrote:
  > I am sorry to read in your email that you have so many problems with
  > the
  > conference, format, participants, timing, etc. 
  I did not mean to come across as condemning your work.  On the contrary,
  I consider this conference to be of great importance--for society in
  general, and for the software industry.
  > The sole purpose of this
  > conference is not to provide consumer alternatives to Microsoft
  > products
  > and I don't think that we, the conference organizers, have said that
  > that would be the purpose of the conference.  The purpose of the
  > conference, which was announced only last month, is to bring together
  > individuals that represent a variety of industries and issues
  > involving
  > Microsoft.  
  Granted, but as more than one of us on this list have noted, there are
  issues in your purview that are of great personal and professional
  importance to many individuals.  I think it would be a good idea to look
  into a more open forum for discussion during at some point in this
  conference.    I am not certain what form this participation should
  The point is, though, you are not merely providing a platform for the
  views of industry insiders and analysts.  There is a very well educated
  and organized mass of supporters of many of Mr. Nader's expressed views
  on this issue.  As one poster pointed out, at least three of these
  groups have written their own alternative computer operating systems.
  (The most popular is Linux.)  
  I'd the public and the press to know that the Microsoft hegemony--which
  involves collaboration between a fairly large number of huge companies,
  and many smaller supporters who profit from following after it--has
  literally millions of opponents in the U.S. and abroad.  Recent
  estimates are that the Linux OS is installed on upwards of 5 million
  > I had a major role in selecting the participants.  If you
  > read our press release you would know that one reason Mr. Nader is
  > having this conference is the large amount of fear surrounding talking
  > publicly against  Microsoft.  Some of the participants signed on to
  > participate months ago and were one of a only a few individuals
  > willing
  > to speak out against Microsoft at the time.  Who do you feel we have
  > overlooked?  There was no call for papers, but many individuals
  > knowledgeable about the business practices of Microsoft were consulted
  > about the panels.
  I did not intend to malign you or your intentions, in any way.  As for
  who should attend the conference, certainly the industry experts and
  academics you have invited should participate.  
  One group is certainly those who support Free Software.  Names like
  Richard Stallman, Linus Torvalds, and Larry Wall come to mind.  You
  should call the staff at Red Hat Software (http://www.redhat.com) and
  ask for suggestions--they know everyone in the free software industry,
  and could provide a list of insightful participants.
  In the interest of the mass of users, maybe you should invite
  paticipation by interested parties, who might or might not be afraid to
  speak out.  This is one function of a Call For Papers, in academic
  discourse.  You as conference organizer, still have control over the
  content, but you can choose from a wider variety of materials and
  > All the panels will allow for questions after the presentations.  I
  > also
  > think that many of the speakers will be available to speak with
  > individuals throughout the day.
  > Caroline Jonah
  > Conference Coordinator
  I am glad to hear this.  Thank you very much for your candid response.
  Matt Benjamin