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Networking Networks: Looking back to look ahead

Montreal, Canada
Author's name: 
Chad Lubelsky

Lots going on with the network of networks for a free and open internet project. First and foremost, apologies for the silence. At first it didn’t seem like there was too much to write about, and then it seemed like there was too much to write about. Lesson learned: Happy mediums are difficult to come by and chasing after them is quixotic at best.

So what’s new? We are moving ahead with research and planning for our July strategic retreat.

Recall that during our advisory group meeting in February, we identified three dimensions that would support our work:

1)Finding ways to support one other across policy issues and spaces

2)Examining collaboration on a specific issue such as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) or net neutrality and

3)Forging an independent space for civil society to meet, assess the Internet public policy context and strategise annually.

Discussions since then have led to a subtle but significant shift in our thinking. We are assessing whether it is more strategic to undertake specific advocacy activities or operate more as a strategy space to support those issue networks already engaged in engaging communication policy issues in specific policy arenas. That is, do we want to engage on Net Neutrality (for example) or be more ambitious and support agenda setting more broadly?

Given this shift, we will be conducting the following research:

  • Stocktaking

Stocktaking of Civil Society participation in Information and Communication Technology Internet Governance policy spaces.  We expect this to be an overview of how civil society participated, what worked, what didn’t, and where the funding came from.  It could also end with proposed suggestions for future research and next steps.

  • ICT Funding

An analysis of the funding landscape of the ICT sector including possibilities for creating an annual civil society summit on IG.   We are looking at ICT for social change (not ICT4D).  The idea is to track the shifts in funding, the current status and look for recommendations on collective advocacy with donors on funding. This would take the form of a briefing paper that would describe context, opportunities, challenges and suggestions

  • Mapping

Discussion papers and accompanying maps that will plot the Internet Governance Public Policy Ecosystem (the layer that shapes how people access, use, influence, shape the internet), and a series of sub-maps (or filters) that would illustrate at a glance, the connectedness of public policy issues, processes and the engagement of civil society actors in this ecosystem. It is expected that this will provide insight into how access, use and change are effected, how issues and processes are related and how civil society actors engage (or don’t) in these processes.

This research will serve as inputs into our July strategy retreat, which will convene activists from a number of communication policy networks to:

  • identify an agenda for civil society partners to collaboratively pursue around Internet Governance policy influence
  • develop a shared perspective on how collaboration should be pursued
  • determine immediate follow-up activities which can help to operationalize such collaboration

If you want to know more, or are looking to get involved, contact Chad: Chad (at) apc.org

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