Mapping Internet GovernanceThe Map of Internet Governance is under construction here.
Note: The current status is that the pages about the key Internet governance fora, as identified in the results of the 2011 survey on Public Interest Representation in Information Society are reasonably well fleshed out now. The other parts of the Map are still mostly in skeletal form.
Information on the IGF workshop in Nairobi is here.
General IntroductionThe Internet does not have a central administration. However, it is not a total anarchy either. Various aspects of its global governance are, in more or less formalized ways, in the hands of different organizations which generally facilitate some form of participation in the decision-making processes by interested stakeholder organizations and members of the general public. Other aspects, including in particular the task of establishing an adequate legal framework, are in the hands of governments, while the corresponding public policy processes should also build on the results of debates in inclusive international fora such as the International Governance Forum (IGF).
The term "Internet Governance" is meant here in a broad sense here, which includes not only technical and administrative tasks which are necessary for ensuring that it is technically possible to send data from one computer or other internet-connected device to another. Rather, all topics are included which are relevant to the Internet's promise of facilitating knowledge societies in which people are truly empowered.
Every individual and every stakeholder organization has knowledge and interest in some of these topics. However, it can be a daunting task to figure out what are the relevant fora where the particularly important debates and decision-making processes happen, and how effective participation can be achieved.
During the preparatory process for the 2011 IGF meeting, a few people and organizations have decided to work together on creating a "Map of Internet Governance" that is aimed at being practically useful in getting an overview of various topics of Internet Governance, and in figuring out which are the International Governance related fora and organizations where participation would be worthwhile from the perspective of one's particular interests.
The plan is that the resulting document should contain not only descriptions of a large number of International Governance topics and fora, but also overviews from a variety of perspectives, including:
- Internet Governance for Development (IG4D), which is a priority theme for the 2011 IGF.
- Which aspects of Internet Governance are particularly relevant to international economic power struggles, and what are the main conflicts of interest?
- Which Internet Governance fora and debates are particularly relevant for informing public policy processes?
- What are the important aspects for empowering cities to re-imagine themselves as digital entities?
- Perspective on public interest representation: How do the various Internet Governance institutions provide for public interest representation, or in what ways have they been reasonably criticized for not having adequate representation of public interest concerns?
Proposed Workshop at the IGF in NairobiThe needs and plans for this map have been discussed at a workshop at the 2011 IGF in Nairobi.
Dynamic Working Coalition for Internet Governance MappingIn the IGF context, groups of people and stakeholder organizations that want to work together on something are called "Dynamic Coalitions".
Experience shows that it is important to have a reasonably narrow focus and to work towards producing and disseminating a concrete document of interest.
As a starting point for the discussions in Nairobi, a list of already existing documents with similar goals and a rough draft for a first edition of the Map will be prepared in advance. At the workshop itself, it will be a main goal to learn from diverse stakeholders about what information is important to them to empower their effective participation in Internet Governance fora.
If you're interested in participating, please subscribe to the e-mail group (mailing list.)
Further Long-Term DesiresGiven the strong links between Internet Governance and Development (on one hand, many Internet Governance topics are critically important for Development; on the other hand, since a strong majority of the world's population lives in developing countries, the related needs and concerns must necessarily have a strong impact on the evolution of a highly decentralized global resource like the Internet), it is desirable to eventually extend the scope of the planned Map to cover not only Internet Governance topics, but also Development Governance topics in general, again interpreted in a broad sense. This second category of topics might perhaps be worked on by a different group of people (whose focus is on Development rather than on Internet Governance) while collaborating to avoid duplication of effort with regard to themes and fora in the intersection of Internet Governance and Development. This long-term desire is already reflected in the domain name for this website, where "idgovmap" stands for "Internet and Development GOVernance MAP".
Norbert Bollow, updated 2012-05-05.