Anna Loup is a Fellow for the SF Bay ISOC’s Working Group on Internet Governance. She is a doctoral student at Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at USC, researching the social, political, and economic implications of the Internet’s policy and technical structures. Here she writes a how-to guide to participating remotely in the IGF 2017 conference in Geneva and making the most of it!
From the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) tri-annual meetings, to the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) annual meeting, these major Internet governance events attract a variety of stakeholders from around the world for several days of discussion and policy development. While attending in person at an event is always highly encouraged, there are many barriers to attending these meetings in person – from financial, to time, to familial and work obligations.
I am writing this blog post as a helpful guide to those interested in participating remotely in the 2017 Internet Governance Forum. As someone who has only participated remotely in Internet Governance Forum meetings, I have found it to be an extremely helpful way to learn about the important topics as well as learn who the key actors in the Internet Governance space are.
This post will give a brief overview of the ways that you can participate remotely this coming December.
Remote Hubs & Individual Participation Online
There are two ways of participating remotely in the IGF, through individual participation online and going to a remote hub. Remote hubs are similar to the local meetings of the IGF and usually are hosted at local universities or civil society headquarters. Every year, different hosts apply to be remote hubs and the IGF Secretariat posts the information online prior to December 1.
Participating individually online is another way you can participate remotely. In order to participate in the meetings remotely, you have to register through the IGF website. Once you are registered for the meeting and have confirmed your attendance, take some time and go through the online interactive schedule. On the schedule, you can look at which sessions are at which times, look at all the sessions for a certain topic, or see which sessions your friends or colleagues are attending. Make sure you sign up for the website so you can save the sessions you are interested in, sync them with your calendar, and access information about participating remotely. Once the conference starts session organizers will post the links for the WebEx Platform that will enable you to watch a live stream, access translation and transcriptions services, participate in the chat, and even call-in and ask questions and participate in discussions.
Some thoughts about Remote Participation
A quick word of advice for any person participating remotely: be patient, but also, do not be afraid speak up!
Sometimes the audio does not work very well, the video feed is choppy, or the moderators forget to ask is any remote participants have questions or comments. In the hectic environment that is the IGF, sometimes tech support and organizers can forget about remote participants. As a frequent remote participant, I usually do three things if I want to participate but I am having trouble. First, I always make sure to say hello to the person moderating the chat at the start of the session. I let them know that I am participating remotely (because sometimes people participating locally also use the remote participation platform, WebEx). If I have a question, I ask it both in the public chat as well as the private chat with the moderator. Next, I get the names of those presenting as well as people who are making comments in the room. This way, I can contact someone after the event about something they said or a question I had, but was unable to ask it during the session. I have actually found this approach to be very helpful and has led to amazing friendships and academic connections. Finally, do not be afraid to contact your local ISOC chapter and request a Remote Hub for the next year or ask if you could arrange to organize one with them. This way you can get the experience of attending with people, but are able to make local connections with people interested in the same Internet Governance issues as you!
In sum, the remote participation and the ways it can bring people together and into the community, is an example of the values that have driven the Internet Governance community for many years. As someone who has only been a remote participant at the IGF, I am happy to walk anyone through the process as well as walk through the schedule with first time remote attendees, feel free to contact me.