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I just read Ginger's latest blog post. It reminded me of some things I have to share.

Let me warn you – jet lag is bad, but virtual jet lag is simply dreadful. However, jet lag you have twice at least, once going, once coming back; virtual jet lag you have once, for the whole meeting, but it's easily cured at the end by a good long sleep. Real jet lag has a way of lingering.

I know about this from personal experience. I attended the whole 2011 IGF Nairobi meeting in my nightclothes, and friends are frequently surprised when I turn down an invitation because “I have a meeting in Geneva tomorrow morning at 3am”. My trick for dealing with the time problem is to treat the meeting as if I were really there. Well, perhaps NOT the dress code. My great good luck is to be retired with an understanding husband.

No matter how you will be participating in the IGF in Bali it's important that you really engage. I'm writing this in London where I am suffering from “choice paralysis” because there are so many variations available. (I live in a very small country where there is often no choice at all.) The IGF is a bit like London – lots of choice; at any one time there may be as many as 11 sessions running in parallel. Unlike London the IGF gives you time to choose – the schedule is available, and the session/workshop names link to more detailed descriptions of content. My advice is to choose now, while you can do it peacefully, and if your memory is like mine (bad) mark your calendar with what, when and where.

A big advantage of participating remotely is that you don't have to find the room. Once you know which workshop, the system will take you there. Like all those lucky people in airports being whisked to the correct place in golf carts while you are struggling with recalcitrant luggage trying to find Gate 17B. Those lucky enough to be physically present need to be sure to orient themselves as to where the rooms are in good time.

Remote participants also have the advantage of such cups of coffee, cheese sandwiches, crunchy biscuits or other refreshments that they care to arrange, either at home or at their remote hub. Those physically present will probably find that meeting rooms have “no food” rules. Also at home you can always find the washroom and you don't usually need to queue.

Once the meeting begins you need to pay attention, making notes if you need them. Here too the remote participants have an advantage. The physical room calls for quiet listening; the remote participants' chat room is often the scene of a lively discussion of the points being made at the physical site. A word of warning however; the chat is often projected onto a screen in the meeting room as well so that the conversation is available to both remote and physically present participants. If you don't want everyone in the room to “hear” don't “say” it in the first place.

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Comment by Angelic Alihusain-del Castilho on October 17, 2013 at 7:50pm
Very nicely put Deirdre. As it is I am still in limbo, not knowing whether I will make it to the meeting or not. Apparently the budgets and preparations/ processes of units such as UNDESA are nit fitted with the characteristics of traveling from small developing nations, so they refuse to approve the necessary budget. But we will see if the goal of these meetings is budget or policy and participation. Whatever the case I will put your advice on dealing with the ( virtual) jet lag through the test and share my experience with you.



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