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Today we are publishing an interview that was made with Ginger Paque just a few days before the IGF February Open Consultations in Geneva.

Ginger doing a presentation at IGF Sharm El Sheikh using remote participation tools

Diplo IGCBP - Internet Governance Capacity Building Programme: Ginger, in addition to the great work you are doing as a Co-coordinator of the Internet Governance Caucus and as the Coordinator of DiploFoundation Internet Governance programs on capacity development, you are also adding a lot of energy to the remote participation initiatives. What can you tell us about it?

Virginia (Ginger) Paque: Every year the remote participation possibilities have been better than the year before. Last year, for instance, there were remote possibilities for the planning meetings leading up to the IGF, including not only the formal consultations with the IGF Secretariat, but in the regional meetings as well.

This is very important: the planning sets the stage, the strategy to be used at the meeting itself. We can never forget that the IGF is a year-long process, not a four-day event at the end of the year. After a full year of hard work online and in situ, the IGF Sharm itself had excellent remote participation possibilities, which I know very well, as I gave two presentations remotely, and attended all four days of sessions from Maracay, Venezuela.

Diplo IGCBP: And how was the experience of attending the IGF remotely for you?

Ginger Paque: I found it to be very intense! I missed the food and the personal networking, and I had to adjust my daily schedule to the Egypt time-zone, but I found that through remote participation I was able to concentrate very directly on the session I was joining at any given moment. No noise, no people, no talking--just me and my webcast.

I think I got a different kind of experience, which was very valuable. I found that I was able to participate as much as I needed to--remember most of us don't stand up and talk in the physical meetings, we watch, we listen, we debate amongst ourselves, and sometimes we know it is appropriate to intervene. I found the remote experience to be very similar, less exciting culturally, less taxing physically, but every bit as absorbing and significant as being present.

Diplo IGCBP: Are there any plans for remote participation this year?

Ginger Paque: Remote participation has already begun for IGF 2010--many people have been active on mailing lists, and in discussions, making statements, and adding their contributions in groups or individually. There will be a webcast with audio and video for the February open consultations, and the IGF has been actively requesting written contributions.

Work is already being done to improve remote participation at planning meetings, at regional meetings, and at the IGF Vilnius as well. The Hubs are already starting to organize, and will again spread the IGF focus from the main meeting (Vilnius this year) to events and themes that will involve the whole world in the Internet Governance Forum 2010.

Diplo IGCBP: As a coordinator of many Internet governance initiatives with DiploFoundation, what are some of the advice that you could share on translating IG theory and research into practice and engagement?

Ginger Paque:
Not long ago I was a newbie myself, and in many ways I still am. And there is no doubt that there are many ways to participate--first, as you say, listening--just like in any other environment.

But asking questions is valid participation too--the Internet Governance Caucus mailing list is a great place to read and ask--to participate in discussions, to answer a call for consensus like the ones used to reach agreement on the IGC statements for the Open Consultations.

If there is a secret to success in the IGF process, I think it stems from this simple fact: knowing that there are only four days of in-person work at the actual IGF, but there is a whole year of remote work--discussing, reading, debating, suggesting, commenting and attending meetings--preparing for those four days. A bit of logic tells you that the last four days are the results of the previous year's work. If you want to have an impact, you cannot just show up to watch the results.

I would say that the short answer would be: join the year-long process that is just starting now. Get involved, and get others involved in the strategies and issues that will be discussed in Vilnius in September.

Diplo IGCBP: Many thanks for this, Ginger. For those who want to know more about the IGF Remote Participation Working Group, you can visit the official website or a page we created with some videos of IGF remote hubs and overall description.

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