Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Internet Governance Forum 2010 and Another Digital Divide

Thanks to InterLibrary loan via BYU, I was able to attain a document called “Internet Governance and Development: Another Digital Divide?” and establish a clearer link between the role of government and its role in bridging digital discrepancies over the world which ties in nicely to the quickly approaching convention of the Internet Governance Forum which will be held this coming August, the third through the fifth, in the city of Quito, Ecuador.

The IGF continues an ongoing discussion involving the Digital Divide and means of bridging national and international discrepancies in technology from present and future scenarios. The following clip from YouTube showcases highlights the conference in 2005, of which the first few minutes give a good synopsis.

However, after having read the article on Government and Digital Divide, I was concerned to realize an inherent danger of such a convention. According to the article:

[T]he summit reached out far less successfully to the wider development community than many had expected. . . Very few delegations included substantial participation from the mainstream development community (from ministries of finance, health, education, etc.), or even from the ‘new’ communications industry (mobile operators, Internet service providers, firms engaged in software development, etc.). Civil society participation also came predominantly from organisations with ICT sector or information/human rights perspectives, with very little presence from mainstream development NGOs. . .This mismatch of aspirations – another ‘digital divide’, in truth – reflects a lack of common understanding of objectives, potentialities and processes between ICT and development communities (Information Polity, volume 12, [2007], David Souter, page 30-31).

Therefore it seems that the host of individuals marketing this campaign are so far personally removed from having firsthand experience with the issue that they cannot accurately relate with those to whom it is more relevant to life. This in itself promotes the risk of a highly abstract government in keeping in mind the most pressing concerns of its people, despite good intentions, especially in light of impersonal interaction of the Internet. This distant, unrelatable entity of the IGF represents a further form of digital division among the masses and its leadership and implies that a tense relationship between the layman and politicians may be heightened by international conferences in which they are not among the active participants.

For more information on this years IGF, additional coverage may be found at their current website.

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