Back From Keynote In Aarhus, DK

I just came back from Denmark, where I gave the opening keynote at GOTO Conference in Aarhus. I spoke for almost an hour about the importance of letting old and obsolete industries die in peace.

The topic of my talk was “Beware red flags on the Net”, referring to the Red Flag Act of 1865 in the United Kingdom. It stipulated that every car must have a man walking in front of the car waving a red flag, thereby effectively limiting the new automobile to walking speed. Much later, it was discovered that the railroad and stagecoach industries had been behind the lobbying that led to this law – they pretended to embrace the new technology, but actually killed its potential to disrupt their own business.

As a result, the German automobile industry got a 20-year head start over the British one, a head start that still shows in the global economy. Thus, the special interest of the legacy industries prevented the public interest of a competitive overall industry.

I gave many more examples of this, and point out that the legacy information industries are now doing the same thing to the net – pretending in words to embrace it, but their actions are different: they are trying to kill the net’s ability to replace the legacy industries with something better. Towards the end, I peered a bit in my crystal ball and predicted that telcos, banks, and even entire governments are next in line to be challenged after the postal services, the copyright industry, and the news services have started to sweat over becoming obsolete (and in the case of the postal service, the process is almost complete).

GOTO at Aarhus was my first opening keynote this month – on the 25th, I’m also honored with opening T2 Infosec in Helsinki. (I’m also giving the closing keynote at NodeJS Dublin on the 19th and a few other presentations in October.)

I was very happy to see the evaluation results come in from the audience: despite logistic problems with the audio, the results came back as 288 votes positive, 56 neutral and only 10 negative. Doing the math, I think that translates to a 97% approval rating, which would be pretty much as good as it gets. I also enjoyed the reactions come in on Twitter – thanks, all:

(Two microphones broke down in sequence, and I decided to not have the audience wait. This was the opening keynote, after all. Instead, I used the voice capacities from my officer’s training – you just talk calmly but really loud, and it doesn’t come across as screaming at all.)

(After a few minutes, I was equipped with a new mic.)

(Also, for marketing purposes, I love presenting in places like Aarhus. It’s a silly but very effective soundbite to say that you’ve given presentations in places from Aarhus to Zurich.)

Photo by Malene Rauhe.

Rick Falkvinge

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. He lives on Alexanderplatz in Berlin, Germany, roasts his own coffee, and as of right now (2019-2020) is taking a little break.


  1. Datavetaren

    Is there a recorsed videostream available somewhere of this talk?

    1. Rick Falkvinge

      I’m expecting it to appear here as soon as it’s been processed, cut, and edited.

      1. Socrates

        I did not find it in ,nor in

        Did they choose to not upload the video?
        Or is it removed as a result of a fake DMCA notice or some other reason?

  2. Max Pont

    Rick. The Red Flag Act argument is fantastic. However, I have not been able to find any literature references. Could you suggest some good references for this, preferably from the academic literature?

    1. Rick Falkvinge

      I originally found references on the Wikipedia page, but it seems quite edited since I first saw it. You should be able to find references in the page’s history.

  3. Sรธren

    But for sorting, the “Aa” in Aarhus counts as a single letter “ร…”, which comes after “Z” in the Danish alphabet… so you should be saying from Zurich to Aarhus, which isn’t all that impressive. Perhaps Abu Dhabi, UAE? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Rick Falkvinge

      As Scandinavians, we know this, but the rest of the world doesn’t. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Still looking forward to speaking in ร…lborg. That beats even the Swiss Aarau.


      1. Tommy

        Actually, Aalborg is always spelled with double A ๐Ÿ™‚ just to make it more complicated. The Danish language is trapped between the Scandianavian and the German influences( and now English), the result is nonsense ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Thomas

    Dear Rick, you make my very confused. Are you arguing that the “legacy information companies” are becoming obsolete? I am not sure which companies you refer to as “legay information companies” but most companies in the information, telecom and entertainment business are actually doing very good, growing and delivering good profits. As I am sure you know, Apple is the highest valued company and there are many companies in the same business that are very successfull. From the giants like Google, IBM, Oracle and Microsoft to smaller players like Spotify and Splunk.
    The financial markets likes the entertainment industry – the market value of the entertainment companies are in general growing faster than the traditional industry indexes like S&P 500.

    Perhaps it is time for you to leave the old traditions of crystal balls and start using the internet to better predict the future?

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