Explaining Internet Governance to friends and family 101 – How to improve our communication?

20 Dec 2017 15:00h - 16:30h

Event report

[Read more session reports and live updates from the 12th Internet Governance Forum]

Mr Michael Oghia, Independent Consultant, Internet governance, started the session by explaining the purpose of the session. He said that there is an increasing need to explain Internet governance in a way an average user would understand it, and pointed out the current lack of support and encouragement for this. Ms Jelena Ozegovic, Marketing and Communications Associate, Serbian National Internet Domain Registry (RNIDS), pointed to the low level of knowledge and awareness that exists within the community with respect to Internet governance. She further stressed the importance of outreach, tailored communications, engagement with academics, and improving the promotion of Internet governance to increase community engagement.

Following the introduction, facilitators split the in-person attendees into four groups to brainstorm for one hour, and then report back (with the same being done with remote participants by the remote moderator). Following these discussions, the groups presented their overviews.

One observation was that to increase engagement, it was suggested increasing outreach and including the global society instead of restricting Internet governance to a closed circle of people. It was identified that use of local language to make it easier for local communities to understand and learn about Internet governance is necessary. The discussion groups also came up with analogies to help people understand Internet governance. It was reported that the key was in making analogies that are accurate, and also providing simpler definitions of Internet governance.

When it comes to engagement with schools and academia, it was suggested that Internet governance is made part of the curriculum for students. However, enforcing this locally or globally would require trainers. In this case, making use of the existing professors, lecturers and staff network to teach Internet governance was suggested. The group also said that governments should be encouraged to play a key role in creating programmes for the public to be informed, and to learn about Internet governance. Other stakeholders and organisations such as the Internet Society and ICANN were identified as being able to play a key role alongside government.

The promotion of already existing coursework on Internet governance was also identified as a necessary step. This should be backed by tailored programmes for a variety of newcomers. Hence, personalisation of programmes based on geography, gender, age and education was suggested. Newcomers will be motivated to learn and not be intimidated by Internet governance if they are guided by personal mentors. The role of mentors in shaping the interest and participation of a newcomer was strongly emphasised. Mentors could also reach out to communities and local regions to get more people to participate in Internet governance.

Wrapping up the session, Oghia stressed the need for volunteerism and dedication from the Internet governance community to increase awareness of the topic, and to truly diversify global participation.

By Krishna Kumar Rajamannar