Remote participation is a great success of Internet governance and this success is probably the reason why it has triggered discussion around its name. At today's IGF session, Hanriette from ACP questioned the use of the adjective 'remote'. I had the same concern because this particular adjective has potentially negative connotations. Remote participants are not remote any more. They follow the discussion in real time; they are increasingly engaged. A few alternative terms were suggested. 'E' was one proposal, as in e-participation. Semantically it would be more precise (the use of various electronic tools for participation). It would better aligned with global diplomatic lingo (e-governance, e-health, e-diplomacy). In our e-diplomacy initiative we wanted to push for the use of this term, but it has not taken off as we'd anticipated. One psychological explanation is that we have internalised the term 'remote' and that we attach to it a positive meaning (the success of remote participation).
In today's discussion Hanriette proposed 'enhanced participation'. It would explain what is happening in the IGF - enhancing participation every year from Athens to Vilnius. My concern is that the adjective 'enhanced' is already loaded, at least in IGF circles. We have many 'enhanced' issues, including highly controversial ones. Ginger has suggested the term 'local participation' arguing that those attending the meeting in person - these days in Vilnius - are remote, while people worldwide are 'local' - they are at home. They are close to the reality of the Internet and to local issues and problems.
Does anyone have another suggestion? Should we rename 'remote participation' at all? Does it serve its purpose as it is?