Footage from the workshop on core Internet values

With a slight delay, I would like to share video footage of the workshop I organized at the last IGF in Vilnius.  This is the same workshop for which I was seeking your input about a month and a half ago.

The full title of the workshop is “Core Internet values and the principles of Internet Governance across generations” and the idea is exactly that – to have a dialogue between Internet pioneers and young Internet activists on the core of what the Internet stands for.

We had a great group of people.  On the one hand, there were young people from different parts of the world.  On the other hand, there were more senior Internet thinkers and practitioners.  Here is the full list of participants (in alphabetical order):

  • Bill Graham, Global Strategic Engagement, the Internet Society (ISOC)
  • ‘Gbenga Sesan, Paradigm New Nigeria
  • Drew Smith, Student at Elon Univeristy and participant in Imagining the Internet project
  • Grace Bomu, Young Kenyan lawyer, secretary of the ICT Consumers Association of Kenya, and cultural activist
  • Laura DeNardis, Yale Information Society Project
  • Marie Casey, Elected female representative at the ITU Youth Forum of future leaders, Geneva, 2009
  • Nii Narku Quaynor, Ghana.com
  • Rafik Dammak, Tokyo University
  • Vinton G. Cerf, vice president and chief Internet evangelist for Google
  • Vladimir Radunovic, Diplo Foundation

Ian Peter, who chaired the last year workshop on Internet Governance, was also supposed to take part in the workshop, but unfortunately he was not able to make it to Vilnius.

I hoped to be able to share a report from the workshop here, but other tasks take priority at the moment and I will be posting the report later.  I do think we had a very interesting and lively discussion, so I thought at this point I will just share the video footage of the event.  If you have a couple of hours to spare, I think you will find this engaging.

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As always, your thoughts and comments are most welcome!

How do young adults access websites?

I am currently at the fifth IGF in Vilnius and yesterday I presented some data from our study on the online routines of the digital natives at the GigaNet.  Here, i would like to share one observation that I find particularly interesting.  In the graph below you can see a summary of our coding of how our participants reached website during our observation sessions. It reflects coding of over 650 instance of accessing website in each China and the USArrivingAtAWebsite-Summary.

As we can see, in most cases, our participants searched; this is consistent across both groups and I think was not particularly surprising.  Similarly, the use of bookmarks was equally consistent across both groups, which in my view was more surprising (perhaps since I am not a big bookmark user).

The differences, as you can see, were in the use of autocomplete and reliance on links.  Interestingly, in the Chinese sample, there were significantly more instances of using reliance on links compared to the use of autocomplete.  In the US sample what we see is practically a mirror image of this trend – significantly larger proportion of instances involved the use of autocomplete.

What makes it even more interesting is a glimpse at where do the Chinese participants follow the links from.  We are still organizing that data, but my initial observation is that many of those are coming from websites that basically large repositories of links (for example take a look at www.2345.com or www.114la.com).

All this brings up some thoughts about the role of English in the online experience.  In my view, one plausable explanation of this data can be the knowledge of English language.  I can see how use of the autocomplete function comes more “naturally” to the native speakers, compared to those for whom English is a second language.  The large collections of links that were utilized by our Chinese participants, further support this idea – why would you make an effort of typing in an inconvenient language, when you can go to just one website, where all the links you use are?

There are currently more questions than statements suggested by the snippet above – there is still a lot of work to be done on these data.  Having said that, I’d love to hear your thought about this little observation.  Please share…

You can find the slides from the presentation here.

Seeking your opinions on internet values and core principles

The next Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is just around the corner and for the first time I am organizing a workshop there.  I think the title of the workshop speaks for itself.  It is: “Core Internet Values and the Principles of Internet Governance Across Generations.”

The idea is very simple.  We are going to have a group of very smart people.  Some of them are internet pioneers from different countries, some of them are established researchers, and some are well known practitioners.  We will also have a group of young, less known (yet) people, whose activism and professional lives are related to the internet in one way or another.  The panel itself is quite large and we are also counting on having a very diverse and engaging audience from the IGF community.

So, the plan is to have a discussion among the panelists and then involve the floor, about core internet values and principles.  The question is not only what those values and principles might be, but whether the perception of these values and principles varies across generations and what that may mean for the future of internet-related policies.

This is where I would really appreciate an input from anyone reading these lines.  What do you think are the core values and principles of the internet where we can find the widest gaps across generations?

One example may be the notion of privacy.  I think since online social networks became popular there is an ongoing debate about how the younger generations’ perceptions of privacy online differ from that of their parents.  We all heard Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that the age of privacy is over.  But is it so for everyone?

What are the core values and principles of the internet that you still hold dear?  Which ones do you think were important in the past, but are no longer important?

Please share your thoughts!

The 5th GigaNet Symposium

Over the past few months I had the pleasure of working with a great group of people on planning the next symposium of the Global Internet Governance Academic Network.  The final program is now available online and I am also posting it below.   I think it will be a very interesting day and if you are interested in internet governance, you should definitely try to participate (there should be options for remote participation announced soon).

I have more Internet Governance Forum related updates, which I will post soon.  In the meantime, here is the program of the symposium, which will take place on September 13th:

9:00-9:15 Opening

9:15-10:30 PANEL 1: Internet governance theory and issue

Moderador: William Drake, Centre for International Governance of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva

  • Peng Hwa Ang and Natalie Pang. Going Beyond Talk: Can International Internet Governance Work?
  • Everton Lucero. Global Governance of Critical Internet Resources: A Perspective from the South
  • Jean-marie Chenou. Multistakeholderism or elitism ? The creation of a transnational field of Internet governance

10:30-11:00 Poster session and coffee break

11:00-12:15 PANEL 2: State power and Internet governance

Moderator: Rolf Webber , European Law Institute and the Center for Information and Communication Law at the University of Zurich

  • Joanna Kulesza. State responsibility for acts of cyber-terrorism
  • Jeremy Shtern. Models of Global Internet Governance and the Projection of State Power: The Case of Facebook and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
  • Lorena Jaume-Palasi and Ben Wagner. Nosy preferences of Google and China: Modelling an internet governance conflict using Amartya Sen’s liberal paradox

12:15-12:30 Sponsorship slot

12:30-13:30 Lunch – Sponsored by MIT Press. Welcome speech given by William Drake, editor of the MIT Press series on “The information revolution and global politics” and Milton Mueller, author of the newly released book, “Networks and States: the Global Politics of Internet Governance.”

13:30-14:45         PANEL 3: Interaction of technology, operations and governance

Moderator: Meryem Marzouki, LIP6/PolyTIC – CNRS

  • Brenden Kuerbis. Securing Internet routing: Influence and control of critical Internet resources through social networks and delegation
  • Dmitry Epstein, Qiu-Hong Wang, Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Milton Mueller. What’s in the name? A behavioral study of the use of the URLs in China and the US
  • Laura DeNardis. The Privatization Of Internet Governance

14:45-15:45         PANEL 4: IGF practice, multistakeholderism and emerging issues

  • Nanette Levinson. Evaluating and Analyzing Collaboration In Cross-cultural and Cross-sectoral Perspective: Indicators from The Internet Governance Forum
  • Ivar Alberto Hartmann. Universal Access policies and Internet Access as a Fundamental Right: The Constitutional Law Perspective informed by the Brazilian Case.

15:45-16:00         Closing

16:00-16:30         Poster session and coffee break

16:30                    GigaNet Business meeting

POSTER SESSION:

  • Charlotte Bogusz. Openness and Privacy v/ Security : The example of filtering measures.2
  • Charlotte Bogusz. The promotion of the general interest through ICTs : The French and Senegalese examples
  • Daniel Oppermann. Analysing cybercrime from a multistakeholder perspective
  • Luiz Costa. The Internet and the Constitutional restrictions on foreign participation in Brazilian Media
  • Luiz Costa. A case study on the Brazilian E-Commerce Forum
  • Mona Badran. Is internet changing the social life of Egyptian college students and affecting their privacy?
  • Rolf H. Weber. Policies for Governing Critical Internet Resources
  • Shawn Gunnarson. Securing ICANN’s Accountability
  • Sofiane Bouhdiba. Internet governance and Education: the Tunisian Virtual University in the context of the Tunis agenda

Is it the time to lobby?

It’s been quiet on this blog for a while, so I decided to share an observation based on some conversations I recently had at one of the Internet governance meetings.  The conversations were about ICT companies and the point was that while Western companies are extremely enthusiastic about emerging markets, they do not consider their regulatory systems with the same rigor as they do in the developed world.  In other words, while in the developed countries these companies invest considerable resources in working with the governments and lobbying, in the developing countries their efforts are primarily in marketing.  Even when they do work with governments, it is mostly done through the marketing departments where the governments are viewed primarily as costumers, less as regulators.

I heard similar observations from a number of industry players and also from a government official.  I listened and “filed” these observations, but they were  brought back to life with the recent explosion of the BlackBerry story.  You may know that the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and now also India and a number of other countries, are threatening to ban BlackBerry unless RIM allows them access to the encrypted email data of BlackBerry users, stored on the company’s servers.  India gave RIM an ultimatum until the end of the month to comply and the rumor is that the Indian government has similar plans for Google, Skype, and perhaps others.

I wonder how did RIM find itself in such a situation?  Will other global technological companies find themselves in a similar situation soon too?  Peter Svensson writes in Washington Post today:

“Threats by the governments of India, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia to shut down BlackBerry’s corporate e-mail services reflect unease about a technology that the U.S. government also took a while to accept.  The foreign governments are essentially a decade behind in coming to terms with encryption, a technology that’s fundamental to the Internet as a medium of commerce. (…) RIM, the company behind the BlackBerry, doesn’t have years to wait for foreign governments to adopt the more relaxed U.S. stance toward encryption.”

I assume Svensson is right about his historical perspective; after all, writing about this is his bread an butter.  At the same time, given that all the governments currently having an issue with BlackBerry are in developing countries, I think he is missing the point made by the people I talked to about the Western companies’ attitudes to the emerging markets’ governments.

It did not take the US government years to figure out its stand on encryption on its own.  On the contrary, this position is a result of years of dialogue, argument, and debates between the government and the various interest groups, primarily the industry, through its lobbying activities, and the civil society.  We can see a similar discussion taking place these days around the issue of net neutrality.

It seems to me that until the RIMs, Googles, and Skypes of this world won’t take the regulators in the developing world as seriously as they take the governments back home, we will continue seeing more “BlackBerry” cases.  Until the multinational MICT companies will not engage in a meaningful  way with the local governments in the emerging markets, the barriers to their activities there will continue growing and become more sophisticated, especially when it comes to such a politicized area as information.

So, I wonder if it is the time for these companies to start lobbying in the developing world just the way they are lobbying here.  While I am aware of the potentially harmful influences of lobbying, it is an integral part of the policymaking mechanism and, for better or worse, it also has an educational impact on the policymakers.  At the end of the day, usually those are the governments that are catching up with technology, while the industry is ahead of the curve.

What do you think?  Is it the time to lobby?

Digest #26

It has been really long time since I have posted any updates. Yes, I was busy, but the number of open tabs with interesting articles kept on growing. So, today I have a moment to breathe and I decided to close some of them (before my Firefox crashes). Although some of the link are not as timely as they were when I first opened them, I think they are still relevant and interesting.

Enjoy!

  • Recent news related
  • Interesting reports, numbers, and visualizations
  • Interesting thoughts, ideas, opinions, and discussions
  • Digital Divide
  • MICT regulation
  • “New” media
  • Simply Interesting, Fun, and Coll Stuff
  • Continue reading

    The “Like” button dissonance

    facebook_like_buttonThe recent change of privacy controls on Facebook and the introduction of a global “Like” button are steering a lot of discussion all over the internet.  My friend Lokman has already left Facebook all together and keep hearing about “Leave Facebook Day” planned for May 21.

    Many people, including those in major outlets are voicing their criticism of the erosion of privacy and introduction of the inverse Beakon.  For example, the Washington Post ran a number of articles on this subject and is reporting on a bill for privacy online being drafted following this outcry, ars technica writes about complains filed against Facebook at the FTC, Huffington Post posted some visualizations of how more and more of our information is exposed to more and more people on Facebook, and the Wired has recently posted a very opinionated piece from Ryan Singer criticizing Facebook’s behavior and calling for an alternative.  What I find amusing in this situation is that all these major outlets (and many others) have wholeheartedly adopted the universal “Like” feature and other Facebook gadgets.  When you come to read their articles, you are welcomed by familiar faces of your friends through some Facebook social feature.

    To me it creates a dissonance.

    I realize that in many cases these are journalists reporting on a piece of technology-related news and I realize that the opinions of the columnists belong to them and not necessarily to the news outlet. I also realize that the news outlets are involved in financial survival battle and using Facebook advertising and social platform may be an opportunity.  I even appreciate the fact these discussions are taking place and that the mainstream media, the blogosphere, and  even Facebook itself are hosting this debate.  Nevertheless, when I see that Ryan Singer’s super critical piece has two “Like” buttons and almost 3500 likes on Facebook, I understand why over at Facebook they feel so confident and comfortable messing with the privacy of their users.

    And what do you think?

    When I have the time…

    I love building things, but I do not have enough time to do that and quite frankly I do not have the best conditions to do that at the moment.  So, in the meantime (and as a form of procrastination) I’ve been collecting projects that it could be fun to build once I have the time.  Most of them came from the MAKE magazine’s blog, which is a worthwhile space if you are interested in this kind of projects (but it is quite overwhelming in terms of volumes).

    So, here are the DIY projects that I liked.  It is sort of repository for myself and also for anybody who has an interest.  Please feel free to suggest more ideas.

    and a larger and rather different variation

    I will stop here for now… more may follow later :)