Monthly Archives: April 2009

The words of WTPF 2009

If you happen to follow this blog, you have probably noticed the relative silence in the last month or so.  I was, and still am, extremely busy primarily with working on my A-exams and moving on with shaping my dissertation ideas.  One of the upcoming highlights is me going to the World Telecommunication Policy Forum (WTPF) to observe how international telecom policy agenda is being shaped in real time and to conduct some preliminary interviews with people who steer this process.

As many other similar events (such as the IGF) the forum is not aimed at producing binding resolutions.  Instead, its explicit aim is to set the agenda for the global telecom policy making.  Here is how it is described on its website:

It (WTPF-DE) is not designed to produce prescriptive outcomes with the binding force of an international treaty; rather, it strives to foster productive debate and build multi-stakeholder consensus on constructive ways forward.

This is why I think it is particularly fascinating event and this is why it will be interesting to look at how its outcomes describe MICT, priorities of related industries, and the associated regulatory principles.  Preparing for the trip I was pleasantly surprised to discover a wealth of information that the ITU made available online.  For example, there is a repository of all the iteration of the “Report by the Secretary General of ITU”, which is the pivotal document of this meeting.  In its preamble, the report states:

Decision 9 of the Antalya Plenipotentiary Conference states that arrangements for the fourth WTPF shall be in accordance with applicable Council decisions. In accordance with Decision 498 of the 2000 session of the ITU Council, discussions at the WTPF shall be based on a Report from the Secretary-General, incorporating the contributions and comments of ITU Member States and Sector Members (available at: which will serve as the sole working Report of the Forum.

Since I am interested in words and in discourse, I thought to play a little bit with what was available.  Together with Veronica, and with the help of the Many Eyes project, we created the following visualization of the current Report by the Secretary General of ITU – the report that is at the basis of the upcoming discussion.  Here is what we got:

Words of WTPF09

This image shows the 150 most common words in this 53 pages long document and the relative size of the word signifies its popularity.  As we can see from a quick glimpse, this forum is going to be about ITU, Internet, networks, services, issues, international, ICTs, countries, use, resolutions…

The decision in 2006 called for convergence to be the main topic of this forum, yet, as we can see in terms of popularity, the word “convergence” is loosing to many other concepts.  This is not to say that the discussion cannot focus on convergence using different terms, but I find this detail interesting.  it is particularly interesting, because if you look at visualization of the first draft of this report (before numerous comments by stakeholders were absorbed in it) the word “convergence” was much more dominant (you can see visualizations of drafts 2 and 3 in the links).

These visualizations do not tell us much about the substantive content of these documents, but I think they are a nice way to have a brief glance at the terminology that is dominating this debate.  I hope to continue following and blogging more on this subject.

Your comments will be highly appreciated!