IGF 2012 - Workshop 52 Report
Workshop 52 - Remote Participation: Reality and Principles
1. Organiser(s) Name:
Remote Participation Working Group
Dynamic Coalition for Access and Disability
Caribbean Telecommunications Union
Raquel Gatto, ISOC Brasil and Remote Participation Working Group
Ginger Paque, DiploFoundation and Remote Participation Working Group
3. Remote Moderator:
Judy Okite, FOSSFA, DCAD, Civil Society, (female), Kenya
4. Local hostess:
5. Remote Panelists:
Fernando Botelho, Dynamic Coalition on Access and Diversity representative, Business Sector (male) South America Enabling Social and Labor Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities through Low-Cost Assistive Technologies and Interoperability
Biljana Glisovic, EUnet, Remote Hub, Technical Community (female) (Eastern Europe, Serbia) (confirmed)
6. Summarized Agenda:
Raquel Gatto: Introduction to E-participation Principles, emphasising e-participation as a tool for greater inclusion in global policy processes. (in situ)
Virginia Paque: responsibility and viewpoint of remote participants (remote)
Ulkar Bayramova: Welcome from the Baku (in situ)
Judy Okite: FOSS community and remote moderator (in situ)
Panel presentations: Each panelist offered a short presentation addressing one aspect of e-participation from the viewpoints of:
Fernando Botelho: persons with disabilities, private sector (remote)
Biljana Glisovic: remote hubs (remote)
Audience interventions on main topic presented
Shadi Abou-Zahra (in situ)
Andrea Saks (remote)
Gerry Ellis (remote)
Sebastian Bachollet (in situ)
Norbert Bollow (in situ)
Tracy Hackshaw (in situ)
Tim Davies (remote)
Jacek Gajewski (in situ)
Alexandra Gaspari (remote)
Since 2008, remote participation has been a reality for IGF, and that is not a result driven activity but a learning process. Year-by-year we have found a new block to construct remote participation, from the election of an adequate platform (to have tools like chat that allows effective participation to operational issues such as open source options), the local infrastructure to support the video streaming (high and stable bandwidth), making everyone familiar with the tools (training sessions), having someone to take care of technical issues and to address the questions (remote moderator), having captioning in all sessions streamed (accessibility) and what I would say is the higher outcome – HUBS, which are local meetings in which the organizer choose to follow the IGF (full or partially), together with its community. So a volunteer can get together 5, 10, 20 or even 100 people (and we do have examples of this), to follow remotely the IGF and make interventions or have a parallel discussion. Just to give an idea, in 2008 we had 8 hubs registered, and it`s a growing number…we have this year 62 hubs following the IGF, plus the individuals that are connected! That`s an amazing achievement! But remote participation is only one pillar of e-participation, we do have other pillars to be taken into account such as social media as an interactive and inclusive tool, collaborative documentation and so on.
E-participation is one of the ways to bring into dynamic reality, many of the issues discussed in and around the IGF. It is instrumental--even central, to enlarging the IGF participation and impact, as well as a powerful way to put into action some of the principles that raises from IGF community. When we are talking about inclusive, open and transparent Internet, we are also talking about e-participation in its heart! And there is not a single path and a simple solution. It has to be a range of tools and actions that put together brings collaborative, interactive and meaningful participation whoever and wherever you are!
The workshop 52 co-organisers, Ginger Paque and Raquel Gatto, started with a brief introduction of previous workshops, and particularly the last workshop in IGF Kenya that underlies the discussion about principles. It has also been presented a historical report about remote participation in IGF and lessons learned in the way, year by year. It highlighted the importance of individual and organisational support to build e-participation into reality. All participants, in situ and remote, were invited to contribute to the discussions collaboratively online at: https://igfremoteparticipation.etherpad.mozilla.org/1
The local hostess, Ulkar Bayramova, mentioned that remote participation is not widely known nor used in Azerbaijan. She also highlighted the impact of remote tools in her own life to learn more and get involved in Internet Governance issues, and the importance it has to education in Azerbaijan.
Fernando Botelho brought up the possible balance to promote open access and keep economical growth, through interoperability. Open protocols would allow accessible tools, without licenses and authorizations obstacles, and consequently more choices, and that would for instance, bring more users in basic communication features. Governments should consider this strategy in their public policies and private sector should look into this business model.
Biljana Glisovic shared her experience as hub organizer, and the challenges to prepare in infrastructure and content, as well as sharing methods to keep up a continuous effort.
Shadi Abou-Zahra, an in situ participant, mentioned the IETF working groups’ experiences and some results in standards-building. But he highlighted that there is not yet an all-in-one solution, which means that you need to work with the multiple tools and client interfaces which are available (such as chat tool, VoIP interface and SIP clients).
As a previous panelist in the Kenyan feed workshop, Sebastian Bachollet was invited to share his comments with the group, and he raised the importance of documenting the process, for example, with the development of a Guidebook. This document could include remote participation guidelines, as well as lessons learned from annual experiences, to be created and shared among other organisations beyond IGF interested in providing e-participation. He also mentioned the ideal solution of having one single tool available to all of them, that would facilitate the remote participant access.
Still from the floor, Norbert Bollow shared his experience as workshop organizer, by reporting that he had problems to bring his remote panelists in last year, and again this year. Therefore, he suggest the implementation of a feedback input process for remote participation, particularly to allow incident reporting and solutions. This view was seconded by Ginger Paque as we need to address new problems and progress, and must avoid repeating the old ones, from year to year.
Judy Okite and Ginger Paque reminded us about the importance to keep remote participants’ interventions at the same priority level and time as in situ ones. In other words, remote participants need to intervene in a timely manner and therefore they need to be kept in constant attention from the moderator/ remote moderator.
A remote panelist, Andrea Saks, the coordinator of DCAD, joined the discussion to focus on platform problems. For example, the lack of captioning integrated with the video screen, that makes the users open several screens at the same time and makes it difficult to follow up the discussion properly. And more important, to take the blind perspective, as they are using some specific screen readers that are not reaching the chat, for example. She highlighted the importance of standardization as a solution to maintain continuity and large access. She has also pointed out that private sector considers people with disabilities as a very small market to bother addressing properly. So industry needs to improve their views and opens, and standardization is a way forward.
Gerry Ellis, a blind remote participant, seconded Andrea’s view about standardization and added that any remote participation platform has to communicate in other ways than only the visual one. He has particularly experienced a lot of problems to follow and interact in this event, because he could not get into the chat with the blind reader’s program and voice communication was only available for the presenter’s option.
Tracy Hackshaw from Trinidad and Tobago shared that remote participation tools such as webcast are very important in the small islands dialogue, and also that it should take into account the low bandwidth solutions.
Under the principle “equality of participation”, Ulkar raised a question in the workshop: based on the limitation that usually platforms have in accepting a limited number of remote participations in the virtual room, if in situ participants join the remote platform, are they taking a place from other remote participants that could have joined? (In situ participants sometimes join remotely to access other tools and chats).
TIm Davies built on her comment to bring another perspective, which is that by joining the chat, for example, the in situ participants are actually establishing a dialogue with the remote audience as they can see who is following the session and express themselves. So the balance between interaction and limitations have to be better explored. He also reinforced that social media should be considered as part of e-participation strategies. And as a hub organizer this year, he shared the experience that many hub participants had not heard about the IGF before, so reaching the new participants is a challenge and preparation is needed.
Shadi jumped in to express his concern that we should be moving away from exclusive technical limitations, such as the limited number of remote participants, because it is a software problem and not a remote participation strategy, and it is not an standard point of view.
Jacek Gajewski has suggested introducing online participants, and having the remote platform page projected on one of the screens during the entire time, so in situ participants would be able to know what is taking place remotely, and interact with remote participants. (This was done in Lithuania, by using multiple monitors / screens in the workshop rooms).
9. Final comments:
The workshop achieved its main goal: to walk and talk and put principles into reality. But it has reached beyond that goal. It was designed to have only remote panelists, except for the hostess and moderator. In fact, it might be the first workshop in the IGF to have half of its interventions coming from in situ and another half from remote participants. This workshop really had balanced participation between the two pools.
This was a workshop in every sense of the word. It did not consist of presentations, but of lively discussions, and, interestingly enough, included interruptions and deviations from the agenda from remote participants as much or more than from those in the room itself, as remote participants definitely asserted themselves as full members of the discussion. This took away from the formal structure of the workshop, but added a new element of spontaneity and power for remote participants which should be analyzed. This was a positive change, but we should review how to manage it effectively, to avoid losing time in ‘transition’ and adapting to ‘who is talking’ and ‘who has the floor’.
Much of the discussion in the workshop deviated from the proposed agenda. Organizers had originally decided the topic had matured to a level where principles could be discussed, but the comments and interventions indicated that guidelines and basic technical and strategic planning are still paramount. We can extrapolate principles from the anecdotes and examples raised during the workshop, but clearly, both guidelines and principles still need to be addressed and developed. One possible strategy is to divide the next workshop into two working groups, one on guidelines and one on principles, or possibly to divide the agenda into two sections, one for guidelines and one for principles.
The relationship and overlap between remote / e-participation principles, principles relating to access and disability was highlighted in discussions, and we must continue to take advantage of this synergy to the benefit of both priorities.
The online collaborative document will be updated with comments from the workshop discussion, as well as the follow-up discussion (see below) and then circulated for comment once again. The document remains open online for review and comment. See https://igfremoteparticipation.etherpad.mozilla.org/1