Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Time for a big honking hoedown!

I know what's been troubling you, Bunky! It's that the United Nations hasn't told us yet how the Internet should be run, right? Well, not to worry - UN Panel Aims to End Internet Tug of War by July:
A U.N.-sponsored panel aims to settle a long-running tug of war for control of the Internet by July and propose solutions to problems such as cyber crime and email spam, panel leaders said on Monday.
I'm so excited! But here's the good part:
The panel, set up in December 2003, will lay groundwork for a final decision to be taken in Tunis in November at a U.N.-sponsored World Summit on the Information Society, where global control of the world wide web may be decided.
It's World Summit time again, kids! Yaaaaaay! All aboard for WSIS fun!
"There is an issue that is out there and that needs to be resolved," said Nitin Desai, chairman of working group and special adviser to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
The "issue" is another fantasy from the usual suspects, but it ought to be good for at least 10,000 attendees, I'd say. There's lots more at the ITU Press Room which issues press releases like this:
Having forged ahead with discussion on the mechanisms to finance ICTs, which will resume Tuesday 22 February, the Subcommittee pressed on with consideration of the other main topic on the agenda of PrepCom-2: The Tunis Plan of implementation. The Plan, which forms the bulk of the operational part of the final document tabled by the “Friends of the Chair”, represents a concerted effort to translate into concrete reality the Plan of Action adopted at the Geneva phase of WSIS, held in December 2003. The entire document is in square brackets (not yet agreed) as of now, and therefore subject to fine-tuning of language that will eventually yield consensus on this key issue.
Here's some fine-tuning: delete everything between the first "[" and the last "]". But to get the full flavor of this hootenanny, check out the summit website, particularly the press releases:

Youth to power-up major UN Summit on "Information Society:
The leadership of youth in IT has translated into enthusiastic and effective involvement at WSIS; they have completely self-organized their involvement with a significant slate of activities from early 2002 through to the Summit. Youth from as many as fifty countries and representing diverse perspectives have participated in force at the major meetings of the WSIS process, including all the global preparatory meetings. Through a "caucus", they have successfully lobbied governments for a reference in the Summit's declaration that goes beyond the usual token comment about "helping youth", to a strong paragraph that acknowledges the centrality and possibility inherent in young people's contribution to the development of the "Information Society".
Woohoo! A whole paragraph! They're also going to launch a "major coalition" called "Youth Creating Digital Opportunities". Be there or be square!

Press release for Digital Inclusion brand
How do we know when we have crossed the Digital Divide?

A brand that will give international recognition to all projects working on the Digital Divide may be the first step.

The Digital Inclusion brand was developed as a result of the recent Salzburg Seminar in Austria and attended by 55 high-level IT experts from 30 countries. It will give instant recognition to the 100 000's of projects which have the key aim of building self reliant members of the Information Society across the world.

The branded projects will provide an internationally recognizable basis for people to share experiences across the Digital Divide that exists across cultures and countries.
I'll spare you the logo. Hmm, I wonder if the Country Store qualifies?

Global Unions Call for "Stronger and Deeper" Action to Protect Information Society Workers. There's a surprise!

But I saved the best for last - No Internet access at The Summit:
The Civil Society Bureau to the WSIS strongly protests that there is a change in the established practices for ensuring wireless Internet access for the actual WSIS. Until now participants in the WSIS were connected online during the PrepCom meetings at no price, while - to our astonishment - we noted that for the WSIS itself the wireless access will be paid, and at the very high business rate of CHF 0.90 / minute.

Many of our members are coming from developing countries where one hour of such usage is equal to more than a monthly salary! That's a bad example of what the digital divide may be described as.

While we are thankful for the existence of a Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) cybercafe, we must state that many of the participants in the WSIS bring their own notebooks, equipped with wireless Internet access cards, and they rely on the accessible communications in order to fulfill their duties.
And I thought their duties were to pad their expense accounts! OK, everyone, down to Starbucks! Oh wait, that's not free either. But I do wonder how they manage to afford their laptops and wireless cards.