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Internet Governance

Planes, Headsets, and Big ummm… Tents

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to travel for over 30 hours, arrive just in the nick of time for a meeting starting merely 4 hours after you finally check into your hotel, use all of your available energy to shake off the jetlag, keep going without sleeping for a further 16 hours, attend a Google Big Tent meeting masterpiece …. all without your luggage, and with no hope in sight of having your clean, freshly washed and packed clothes for the next day?

Well, wonder no more. I’ve just done it. I certainly wouldn’t wish the experience on my worst enemy. Well, then again … ­čÖé

Keeping a smile going, without (feeling like you are) losing your mind over the last few days is another very interesting experience which certainly prepares you for any challenge that may come your way.

Like avoiding, Frogger-style, high speed expensive SUVs while “Jay running” across a major “no-lanes-marked-so-I’ll-drive-at-100mph-in-a-zigzag-let’s-see-how-fast-you-can-run-without-getting-killed-manner” road only to find that the cheapest shirt in the store is equal to the price of buying 10 shirts back home. Admittedly, I’m not the designer clothes wearing type, but 85+ Euro for a basic shirt? Seriously?

How about the IGF organizers, in a sweetly valiant attempt to avoid the Vilnius scenario, deciding to not provide speaker monitors in the room, and now as a Workshop organiser, with remote panelists, iffy internet  connectivity and remote participation challenges, having to explain to a prospective workshop participant later in the day that the deafening silence emanating from our room was not all of us sitting with headsets on, in complete and utter silence brainwashed into submission by privacy advocates, but merely our collective listening to a Remote Panelist?

After the colour and splendid spontaneity of Nairobi, I fear this will definitely go down in history as the “Silent IGF”. Is there an irony here in this, the year of the WCIT?

If it’s one thing … well probably two, that have stood out for me during this IGF so far, is the amazing sincerity of the Internet Society delegation here in Baku. From their almost evangelical speaking team, to their crazily hard working staff, to my fellow IGF Ambassadors, they have all been shining lights, helping me keep a smile on my face and exhibiting the professional, accountable ethic and aura that the IGF deserves.

With many people privately observing the IGF’s continued challenge for survival and relevance in light of the coming storm, one simply needs to take a page out of the ISOC Playbook to learn how to take it on the chin and come roaring back to rise to the challenge.

Perhaps by participating in the Baku IGF, what we all, especially me, have taken away from it in terms of lessons learned will ensure that IGF 8 in Bali comes roaring back to life with the volume and life that befits this amazing example of multi stakeholder engagement.

I did say there were two shining lights in this IGF for me. The second is the active and visible participation of delegates from Small Island Developing States. After spending 3 IGFs agitating for increased involvement, thanks to organizations like ISOC, DiploFoundation, LACNIC and UNDESA we finally had representation that numbered in double figures. This led to a very successful IG4D Main Session Feeder Workshop organised by ISOC Trinidad & Tobago  and supported by the Pacific Islands Community ISOC (thanks Maureen, Anju!) which certainly went a long way towards raising the volume of the SIDS voices in the IG conversation.

More on that, however, in a subsequent post.

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