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DiploFoundation Internet Governance Capacity Building Programme (IGCBP): Ivar, can you please introduce yourself and your academic interests?

Ivar Hartmann: I joined the DiploFoundation Community coming from an academic background, shortly after completing an LL.M. in constitutional law at PUC-RS University in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

My research interests have led me to investigate, in the last few years, the legal aspects of digital inclusion and the possibility of recognizing internet access as a fundamental right in the Brazilian constitutional order. More specifically, I have also dealt with the use of cyberdemocracy mechanisms in procedural environmental protection. Brazil has, like many other western countries whose constitutional traditional has been influenced by Germany's, an open catalogue of fundamental rights.

As I further carried on with my studies I realized that developing research on cyberlaw and several aspects of what is today called "legal informatics" is paramount to our society today. I therefore set out to participate in Diplo's online IG course to both learn more about internet regulation and internet access regulation, as a researcher.

After a while I realized, however, that even as a legal researcher I, like other people in the academy, must join the IG debate as stakeholders. Such debate must be as open and as plural as possible and even researchers cannot deprive civil society of their participation and help in securing an open, affordable and safe internet to all.

Diplo IGCBP: Ivar, can you illustrate to us how was the capacity building programme and the online learning experience?

Ivar: I was not new to the online-learning experience. But it turned out I was actually new to a productive, truly interactive and plural online-learning experience, such as it is enabled by DiploFoundation in the IG course.

I was truly stimulated to read more about different and interrelated IG topics, to explore other points of view and to expose and justify my own. The hyperlink tool, supported by the class forum, the class blog and the weekly online meetings, is what sets it apart as an adequate forum for learning and discussing plural issues. It exposes opposing views and arguments and provides an environment where this opposition is analysed and carefully understood, but not with the aim of eliminating it. This debate system thus enables mutual understanding and the idea of conciliating contradiction and fostering innovation in the field of IG politics.

I was incredibly lucky to find myself amongst so many talented and devoted professionals from different areas in the 'Americas' group of the IG online course. It helped me understand other areas of IG I hadn't previously had contact with as well as showing me different perspectives (from other countries) of my own subject of interest and research in the IG field. One of these people was our tutor, Marília Maciel, who throughout the duration of the programme passionately encouraged us to participate and take an interest in learning more, whilst at the same time wisely balancing our discussions and providing them with yet more relevant arguments. I would not have made it into the advanced phase without such collaboration from my colleagues and help from my tutor Marília. The overall experience has been truly inspiring.

Diplo IGCBP: What are your next goals?

Ivar: My career goal is precisely to collaborate to the IG debate, to show people in the legal field the significance of this necessarily international process and to ultimately give back to the community by helping keep the internet the democratic safe harbor that it should and can be.

One of the ways I intend to do that is to continue doing research (now in the doctorate level) and teaching in Law School while adding to that a participation in the government field, possibly in the area of communication's regulation or digital inclusion public policies.

Another way I intend to pursue these goals is by maintaining an active and useful participation in the IG debate, as part of the Diplo community or in other environments. This is why I will take part in the next Euro-SSIG (July 2010).

As I believe there's no other way to do IG than to create procedures for open, transparent and multistakeholder, plural participation in discussions and public decision-making, it seems to me the internet itself plays a part in providing the best forum for these procedures: cyberspace. That's why I believe digital inclusion - understood as more than merely giving access to computers but also as digital literacy - is a priority for both developed and underdeveloped countries.

Diplo IGCBP: Do you have a favourite topic?

Ivar: In our debates in the Americas group, the issue of digital inclusion obviously meant more to me, but only in the sense that I felt that was were I could contribute the most. Other fields, such as privacy, copyright and cybercrimes, were meaningful to me in the sense that those were the areas where I had the most to learn from my colleagues.

When we talk about different issues in the large field of IG, what's most important is not establishing some kind of hierarchy or priority, but understanding the profound way in which these issues are all intertwined, which means we cannot look away from any of them without threatening to compromise the whole IG process.

Diplo IGCBP: Any final message?

Ivar: Some people are making decisions regarding the way all of us will experience the internet now and in the future. For those who feel they would like to know how these decisions are being made, on what grounds and by whom, I strongly suggest seeking to learn more about IG and taking an active part on it. If you do, Diplo will be part of your path.

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Visit Diplo's IG website, www.diplomacy.edu/ig for info on programmes, events, and resources.

The full text of the book An Introduction to Internet Governance (6th edition) is available here. The translated versions in Serbian/BCS, French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, Chinese, and Portuguese are also available for download.

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