di Betsy Dougas da Rio de Janeiro
I guess the first thing that strikes me is the good will and passion each person has for that piece of the Internet they work for.
Then you feel, listening to the discussions that the world is so big and diverse and therefore, it is a wonderful thing, everyone comments, that the IGF makes it possible for everyone to come together and share their experiences, their needs, their challenges and their hopes and to learn from each other and encourage each other.
As I listen to each topic I think - "Oh, we could do something in this area.." it is all so fascinating. Each one of us in the delegation has commented how we wish everyone in NetOne could have the chance to participate. To hear the voices from all the different countries, the different accents, the different points of view, the many variations of concerns about the same issue. It is beautiful. Then the amount of information, to understand the history behind each aspect, the research being done, the projects completed, the plans that countries and businesses and civil society are working on - at a certain point it could be overwhelming!
As someone pointed out, this is not your standard UN conference. When
they call someone to make a statement, they do not include their title.
Each one is Mr. or Ms. in a sense, like on the Internet, we are all
equals. This is what encourages people to share their concerns and
voice their opinions and say "hello, we need to be taken into
consideration too" the blind, the illiterate, those who want to
preserve their culture, the ones who want to protect the children, etc.
In general, I think government officials have the most difficult time
with such an open forum as the IGF as well as with the Internet. It is
interesting to realize that there is no clear cut line as to where the
governments role ends and civil society begins. The idea that the
Internet and much of its governance is outside of the reach of the
governments is intriguing.
While IGF is the meeting point for
everyone, everyone, I realized that there are many conferences that
take place on specific subjects all over the world. This is often seen
on the panels, where they know each other, they know people in the
audience. It is quite impressive to see these international groups
talking together in the meetings, in the corridors etc.
liked a comment on the first day many of the social issues existed long
before the Internet, illiteracy, lack of electricity, etc. and we need
to ask ourselves if an issue is truly related to the Internet or are we
hoping to use the Internet as the silver bullet to finally get them
taken care of. I can only imagine that there are many organizations
working on literacy, working on women's issues, working on free speech,
etc. who are not represented here. Then someone points out how progress
is accelerated when the Internet is properly introduced to a village
that has these kinds of issues.
I have the impression that
sometimes people working on the same issue do not always know what
others are doing on the same issue. It would be great if out of this
IGF could come a catalog of organizations, coalitions,
multi-stakeholder projects. One woman suggested that we are all
reinventing the wheel because we don't know. She suggested starting
with a plane text write up for each project - including what they are
doing, of some issues, and of contact information. In fact, she
suggested that the contact information that is most important to be
available is that of the people working on location, to be able to
gleam from them their practical experience.
For me, perhaps
because I am American, it is a little frustrating to hear all this
discussion, people raising all these issues and needs and no one taking
notes, no one making a list of action items. Besides a list of what
people are doing, wouldn't it be great if there were a list of all the
open issues, it could facilitate people finding partners to take on
various projects. Kind of like, as I imagine, on an open source project
- there is the list of enhancements and people sign up to work on them.
Of course if there are multiple developers, one of them takes on
After the first day I thought, hum, it looks like
they have everything under control, someone seems to be working on
everything. Then I realized that, yes, there are lots of people
working, but each location needs a full team to take on the specific
challenges of that unique piece of the world, from cyclones, to
electricity, to corruption in the government, to monopoly in the
telephone company, to the unique culture.
The issues are not
just broad but also wide and deep and language sometimes perpetuates
discussions because of lack of precise meanings. Of course if Corporate
America has trouble concisely expressing requirements to a development
team - how much more time is needed for people to share their needs
with cultural and lingual diversity.
Every now and then it comes
to mind the question - how much of the desire to get the internet
everywhere comes from a desire to "give everyone our western society".
"Because we can do it and it helps us be more productive, everyone
should be able to do it." I think here is where the greatest care
needs to be taken to protect and promote the positive aspects of local
cultures. People are talking about this, especially the Minister of
Culture of Brazil.
One interesting experience was shared about
work done in Santo Domingo, where they were told, only 2 people have
PC's. But then the next day when they insalled broad band there were 10
people waiting at the door to sign-up. It turns out that these people
have family in the US who want to be able to communicate with them.
Given computer pieces, the youth assembled them with out instructions -
they are so creative. He pointed out that this is why it is so
important to work on projects at location, at least have someone there.
I'm amazed at the range of problems the people here are ready to take on.
in a while I hear an issue and think - "but that is a government issue,
we can't do anything there". Then I realized, but no, that is why this
forum exists, to give civil society, the private sector a chance to
work together and for the government. That explained why there were so
many lawyers present. Then to realize that these people are ready to
take on the governments who are not present.
The sun came out today!! and the beach is across the street.
There would be so much to say... that is it for now.
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