It’s clear the Internet is changing our lives, oftentimes faster than we can see. But how is the openness of the Internet shaping our future? How is its innate interconnectedness affecting businesses, media and the way human beings think and interact?

It’s these questions and more that will be explored at the third annual Guardian Activate Summit. The upcoming event will take place in New York on May 3rd and is the American iteration of the media giant’s event series, which also takes place in London and Delhi. The Summit will bring together influential and inspirational speakers such as Wadah Khanfar (former director general of Al Jazeera), Clay Shirky, Om Malik, Reid Hoffman, Arianna Huffington and Jeff Jarvis to discuss and debate the potential of the web to drive a more connected, creative and cohesive planet.

“The first Activate came about in 2009. At the time, we were seeing a lot of events out there about the future of the Internet. So instead, we took a look at how the open Internet is changing how businesses think and the way people are governed,” explains The Guardian’s Robin Hough, the Head of Content and Events at the Guardian Media Network. “The event will explore the intersection of digital technologies and changes in society, and will celebrate all the different nuances of it.”

Screen shot 2012 04 10 at 10.38.17 AM 220x56 The Guardians Activate Summit arrives in New York City this MayAt last year’s Guardian Activate event, “ideas were flowing too fast to get them all down”; the day was described as “dynamite” and speakers included Jason Clay, the Senior Vice President of market transformation at the WWF, Carlo Ratti, the Director of the Senseable City Laboratory, Chris Thorpe, director of ArtFinder, Michael Balaoing, the Senior Vice-President of philanthropic services at the Entertainment Industry Foundation and Chris Vein, the Deputy Chief Technology officer of government innovation at the White House.

Since then, The Guardian officially launched in America, with its new offices in Soho in New York City. Now that the team has had a few months to stretch its wings on American soil, this year’s Activate promises to be better than the last. Kicking off the day’s events as host will be the Guardian’s Editor-in-Chief Alan Rusbridger, who’s well known for his 10 ideas on open journalism, which he shared with the world quite appropriately on Twitter this past March.

New York’s own Clay Shirky, a professor at NYU’s ITP school will be speaking about the Internet and the community’s reaction regarding the recent debates over the SOPA and PIPA acts (and their continuing threat to the Internet as we know it).

“There are many reasons to dislike SOPA and PIPA, the pair of Internet censorship bills working their way through the US Congress. They are (another) example of the influence of corporate money on American politics: US media firms have cumulatively donated tens of millions of dollars to the bills’ authors…. And the proposed technical solution – censorship enforced through the domain name system – would not have the effect they want it to have, but its technical side-effects would break important parts of the Internet,” writes Shirky in a piece for The Guardian.

Watch his TED Talk on the topic below:

Another esteemed speaker is Reid Hoffman, the Executive Chairman of LinkedIn, who serves on the boards of Kiva, Endeavor, DoSomething, and StartupAmericaPartnership and will talk about the ways entrepreneurship and technology are improving the world. He will also provide insights behind his best-selling book The Startup of You.

“Activate is less about technology for technology’s sake and more about the principles of openness and coming up with innovative solutions to problems. It’s about getting out of traditional modes of thinking. It’s also about bringing people together from disparate positions and disparate parts of the world. We want to discuss the information that’s going to allow you to do your job better and run your company better. Whether we get it right or not still remains to be seen,” says The Guardian’s Robin Hough.

The three discussions I’m most excited will be from Hannah Jones, the VP of Sustainable Business and Innovation for Nike; Yochai Benkler, the Berkman professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard; and Jonah Peretti, the Founder and CEO of BuzzFeed.

The Guardian’s Activate Summit returns to New York, 3 May 2012 at The Paley Center for Media. Tickets start and $556.50 for the day and The Next Web readers receive 20% off tickets with the code NEXTWEB20. For more information and how to book visit the website.

Can’t make it to New York City for the event? Tune in for the livestream! And check back here for coverage of the event from Features Editor, Courtney Boyd Myers and our East Coast Editor, Harrison Weber.

Songquan Deng via shutterstock