Archive for the 'WSIS' Category

The Internet Governance Forum – third time lucky

I was at the United Nations in Geneva last week to watch what was happening to the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) as it prepares for its third outing, this December in Hyderabad, India.

Actually I was there for a different reason – an ICANN consultative meeting on the future of the organization the morning before the UN meeting – but it seemed daft to fly all that way and not check out the day of open discussions about the IGF. Plus I have a real soft spot for the IGF and the people that have worked extremely hard to make it a success.

I was a witness to the IGF’s creation, on paper, at the World Summit on the Information Society back in 2005, and then followed it all the way through various preparatory sessions as a reporter.

At the inaugural IGF in Athens, I was asked to be the conference’s “blogger-in-chief” – a position that, ironically enough, my current employer tried to veto. As a semi-official part of the IGF, I also got to see behind the scenes, and was impressed with the hard work, dedication and calm handling of what was an enormous and risky experiment. A lot of people at the time confessed to turning up just to see what would happen – spectators to what could have been the biggest diplomatic car crash for a decade. In the end, despite the odds, it shone through.

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Welcome to Geneva – the entire city is fully booked

If anyone every wondered whether the Internet was vital, or if the new Internet Governance Forum suffered from a lack of interest, worry no more.

Next week, a series of events will be held in Geneva covering the follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society and most importantly a preparatory meeting for the next IGF in Rio in November — and there is NOT A SINGLE hotel room available in the entire city. I tried four different online booking sites and nothing. So I found hotels where you can’t book online and called them. Nothing. And I have just got off the phone to the official hotel reservation service in Geneva, part of the tourist information office, and they tell me that Geneva is officially completely booked for 22-25 May.

Where the hell am I going to sleep?

Update: I’ve had to book a villa three miles out of town and actually in a different country (France). At one point I was seriously looking at Lausanne – a 40-minute train journey away. I will call around on Monday and see if there any late cancellations, but it looks like I have a long trip each morning and evening. Lesson learnt: book hotels in Geneva early.

Dynamic Coalition for Online Collaboration

I have just announced the creation of the “dynamic coalition” for online collaboration in the IGF meeting in Geneva. Effectively this is a group of people who plan to test and run online tools to help governments, businesses, civil society, NGOs and so on, have discussions and arrive at solutions, conclusions, recommendations, whatever. It is open to anyone who wants to constructively contribute. Found out more at This is what I said:

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Some stats on the IGF Athens meeting

The Greek delegate has just spoken at the stocktaking meeting of the Internet Governance Forum in Geneva.

He gave some stats from the first Athens meeting in November 2006 that might be worth preserving:

  • 1350 participants (including 152 media, and coming from 97 countries)
  • 8 translation booths and 20 translators
  • 50 buses
  • 7 metal detectors
  • 4 X-ray machines

By the way, there is an IRC chatroom on in the room #igf going on as we speak.

The Internet rollercoaster starts up the track again: IGF in Geneva

I am in Geneva for a stock-take of the first Internet Governance Forum in Athens last November.

It should be an interesting meeting. The one thing that no one is any doubt about is that the IGF will be bigger and more important in 2007. Born out of international discussion (some might say argument) at the United Nations over problems thrown up by the Internet – especially the best way to agree to fix problems – the IGF caught most people by surprise when it became a tremendous success, despite all the opportunities for it to be otherwise.

This year the meeting should get the resources it was starved of last year but at the same time the 2007 meeting in Rio de Janeiro could prove explosive mostly because of continued disagreement about how the Internet is currently run and who gets to make the decisions.

That argument is still ruminating so this 13 February meeting should be an opportunity for people to review and enjoy IGF 2006, discuss what worked and what didn’t, and agree on how to make this year’s meeting better. To this end. the organisers asked people to send in comments to help form discussion and have posted them on its website.

I have been through them all and have put together this quick summary of what everyone agrees on; what most people agree on; and where there will be argument. Where there’s argument, I have given what I hope is a balanced and objective review of what the argument is about and why it’s happening, plus predicted what is likely to happen.

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So, I took this job at ICANN…

Starting 5 February, I will be the “general manager, public participation” for ICANN – an organisation I have closely followed and frequently criticised almost since its inception in 1999. I’m excited about it, and the possibilities the position holds.

Here then is a blog post about why I took the job and what I hope to achieve.

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Online participation: the possibilities and the realities

I’ve spent quite a bit of time recently building and running online participation websites – or, in English, trying to get people on the Internet learning about and interacting with physical meetings.

Both have been for Internet organisations, which should theoretically make things easier. The first was the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Athens in early November, and the second ICANN’s Sao Paulo meeting now in early December.

I figured while some things were fresh in my mind, I’d do a blog post about what I’ve learnt. And the title “the possibilities and the realities” took about two milliseconds to pop into my mind.

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NomCom nonsense continues

[I just posted this on the ICANN Participation website – and realised maybe I should have only posted it here on my own blog. So here is some daft repetition.]

The Nominating Committee of ICANN decides who will take the most important posts in the organisation.

It is also the most secretive organisation I believe I have ever come across. I know more about MI5, the KGB and Mossad than I do about the NomCom. Which is very odd as I personally know a number of people actually on the NomCom.

At 8.30am tomorrow morning, chair of the NomCom, George Sadowky will give a presentation about this year’s process, you can see it now here (Powerpoint). I have alot of respect for Mr Sadowsky but reading the presentation you would think that the whole process was smooth and open and understood.

The reality was (and I know because I applied) that no one at all had even the slightest idea what was going on. You sent a submission, you received an email saying it had been received. And then four months later you recieve an email telling you who had been chosen (and it wasn’t you).

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Online participation website for ICANN

So I was asked by ICANN’s “executive officer and vice president for corporate affairs” Paul Levins to do an online participation website for its meeting in São Paulo, starting officially on Monday.

Paul was at the IGF in Athens last month and saw the site that Jeremy and I had done for the IGF in order to try to get some online interaction both by people that couldn’t be there and by those that were there. In fact, in retrospect, the whole thing dovetailed with a conversation I had had with Paul when I visited ICANN in Los Angeles on a whim two months ago.

Despite alot of well-founded criticism of ICANN in the past (much of it from me) about the organisation being secretive, insular, opaque and whatever other term you wish to use, it struck me that ICANN had actually taken the criticism on board this time and was looking for ways to open up a bit.

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The dotcom contract and dangerous USG myopia

I am very tired so I have had to check what the new dotcom agreement – amended and then approved late yesterday by the US government’s Department of Commerce – actually says several times before I believed it.

Even now, I’m not so sure I have got it right. Which is worrying because I’ve just written a news analysis of it for The Register and if I’ve got it wrong it will prove very embarrassing. From the words I have read, it appears to me though that he Congressmen who unfortunately demonstrated their almost total ignorance of how the Internet works in reality at the September hearings, have given themselves oversight of the dotcom registry – the most important part of the Internet currently – until 2012.

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