If you think standards are boring, you had to be in Greece this week, where a loose coalition of researchers, librarians and corporate representatives launched a campaign on open standards. The timing coincided with a forum on the future of the internet that is receiving about 1,500 people in a hotel outside of Athens four days in a row.
"Someone from the Pacific Islands expressed that the single main challenge with which his region is increasingly faced with is global warming,” Milena Bokova said. Quite striking indeed that the very first workshop at the IGF would list this major environmental phenomenon as the greatest obstacle to making the internet accessible.
The twist this IGF is giving to this old debate about ‘openness’ makes it that more relevant since it calls into life a confrontation, not only involving national law, but also market law. This is why corporations like Google have been taken for a ride at the IGF by those arguing that it is unacceptable that this advertisement firm – know for its flagship research engine – started operations in China, where restrictions on free speech are, to say the least, restrictive.
Opening internet access in Africa, convergence and developing country participation in the UN summit on the information society:
Several new papers on key issues now and in the future are available online. Part of the "APC Issue Papers" series, they are currently being circulated at the UN conference on internet governance being held in Athens in English and French.
I just ran into Pavel Antonov from APC-member organisation BlueLink in Bulgaria. He just flew into Athens from Riga where he was giving a training to leading Latvian state-TV and national newspaper journalists in how to report on sustainable energy. Pavel is the chair of a workshop here at the IGF in Athens. It’s called “Greening Development through ICT and Civic Engagement” and includes a brochette of five speakers. One them is Julian Casasbuenas, the director of APC-member in Colombia, Colnodo.
"IGF is a process," said Natasha Primo during her speech at the opening ceremony of the first (of three) Internet Governance Forum. What she means by this, is that "Athens will not be the a one-time show. The discussions and debates around how the internet is to be governed will continue way beyond and we don’t want to have this huge down-time in between the three IGFs," later explained Avri Doria of the civil society internet governance caucus.
Here I am, sitting in a plenary room at the opening session of the Internet Governance Forum in Athens. This forum was set a couple of months back, in Tunisia, where the second summit on the information society (WSIS) was drawing to a close. Some of you might have noted back then that the two main issues discussed in that UN-organised summit were internet governance and ICTs for development. Well just about eleven months later, what appears to be the legitimate space for continuing the debate on the future of the internet is called the Internet Governance Forum.
Everyone talks, but no-one listens…. Spam, multilingualism, cybercrime, cybersecurity, privacy and data protection, freedom of expression, human rights, interconnection …. The Internet is one of the most powerful inventions of the digital age…. Given the huge impact of the Internet on our daily lives, states must remain the ultimate guarantors of our Internet rights and freedoms,… Reporters Without Borders will be at the Internet Governance Forum in Athens to remind participants that free expression must be at the centre …. A long-simmering dispute over whether the U.S. government has too much control over the Internet’s underpinnings …. Some voices emerging prior to Athens.
The leader of a Netherlands-based non governmental association at the very end of the World Congress on Communication for Development, here in Rome, probably best summarised how development practitioners (communicators, donors and those benefiting from the development at the end of the line) need to move on.
In an attempt to blend ‘symbolic’ communication with ‘organic’ communication we structured the session like a live talk show, allowing our ‘in-studio’ guests panellists to respond to the radio audience as they attempt to ‘call-in’.