The workshops of the IGF will, unhelpfully, be held at the same time as the main plenary sessions. A much better format would have been like that of APRICOT, in which workshops are held in the days prior to the main conference. But this was another of those decisions made between the Secretariat and the Advisory Group that the rest of us weren’t consulted about and had no say in. There is a significant overlap between a lot of the workshops, which is hardly surprising given that the process by which proposals were submitted was a closed one. If workshop proposals had been developed in a collaborative online process, it would have been possible to consolidate many of them and to schedule them outside the times of the main sessions. (Calm blue ocean, calm blue ocean.) The timetable of workshops has recently been released (how recently I’m not sure – like most updates to the IGF Web site, this one wasn’t included in its rather useless and broken RSS feed). So I have had to decide which sessions to attend, and these are my choices:
Monday, 30 October
15:00 – 18:00 Multistakeholder Policy Dialogue – Setting the Scene A no-brainer, as it’s the only session held that day. Incidentally, the most important one, so thank God they didn’t schedule it against Free Expression or something.
Tuesday, 31 October
10:00 – 11:30 Openness It goes longer, but I’ll probably only be able to stick around for the first ninety minutes of this plenary session on freedom of expression, free flow of information, ideas and knowledge. 11:30 – 13:00 Participation This is one of the big ones, with ICANN, ISOC and representatives of the RIRs and ccTLDs on board. 13:30 – 15:00 IG for Participation A similar topic but from an entirely different angle, and a greater focus on development. It is run by CONGO, whose members include many large NGOs but none with much clue about the Internet. 15:00 – 17:30 – Security Back to the plenary sessions again, to catch most of this session on creating trust and confidence through collaboration. 17:30 – 19:00 – Enhancing Multi-stakeholder Participation in ICT Policy Making Wrapping up with the private-sector’s take on the whole governance issue. I’m not sure I’ll agree with everything they say, but I’ll be interested to hear them say it. Uh, and some time around here I’m also going to eat and sleep.
Wednesday, 1 November
9:30 – 11:00 – Legal Aspects Probably the second most-relevant workshop to my thesis, this sesssion will discuss the reach of various levels of legal system in addressing Internet-related issues. 11:30 – 13:00 – Human Rights and the Internet This session is run by the Council of Europe, which nowadays mainly functions as a human rights watchdog, and its subtitle is “How anonymous can and should we be?” 13:30 – 15:00 – The Internet Bill of Rights Eben Moglen is lined up for this one, so I can’t wait. I saw him before at linux.conf.au, and he received a thunderous standing ovation there. 15:30 – 17:00 – Free flow of information in cyberspace UNESCO is hosting this presentation themed on freedom and openness of Internet communications. 17:30 – 19:00 – Building meaningful participation More of the same from yesterday, but this time co-hosted by the Canadian government. It seems that “multi-stakeholder” means that each stakeholder group hosts their own separate workshops on exactly the same topic. Way to go.
Thursday, 2 November
9:30 – 10:00 – Open Standards It is most frustrating that I will only be able to catch the first half-hour of this session organised by Sun and the W3C, amongst others. 10:00 – 11:30 – Conclusions and the Way Forward I could hardly miss the closing session, giving a summary and assessment of the first meeting and discussing plans for the next one in Rio. (No, you didn’t miss anything; there was no announcement or discussion of the decision that the second meeting would be held in 2007 in Rio. Say after me, “the Secretariat knows best”.) Hopefully they’ll be well into self-congratulatory back-slapping by the time I leave this session early for the next one. 11:30 – 13:00 – Intellectuals in the IGF Policy Process Subtitled “From knowledge to results”, this one is also very relevant to my thesis. David Clark will be there, which should be good. 15:00 – 17:00 – Emerging Issues A token panel of young people will be speaking at this one. Congratulations. Make sure there are no caucasians, though. And put them in wheelchairs.