The 2012 Internet Society Global INET
ISOC Global Chapters
Brief session description:
Sunday, April 22, 2012 The Internet is constantly evolving, requiring leaders with wisdom and foresight to achieve positive evolution. In sessions on the Saturday and Sunday before to the conference, chapter delegates and participants met in sessions in which they concentrated on leadership development, sharing of best practices and success stories, and building skills to advance local and regional ISOC chapters. The event was the first of its kind in ISOC history and included 120 participants from around the world working with the theme of “Imagine, Plan, Act!”
Details of the session:
Peter Houstle, CEO of Mariner Management and Marketing, served as a leader. He discussed effective techniques for goal setting. While the first day of the Global Chapter Workshop focused on the theme of "imagine," the second day’s events were aimed at getting participants talking about implementation - planning and acting on these plans - and how various issues and actions can be influenced positively as they begin playing out around the world.
“It’s great to talk about ideas," Houstle said to attendees, "it’s great to imagine what might be, but if we don’t execute, if we don’t act, then our imagination doesn’t get us where we need to go." He noted that goals must be meaningful, measurable, specific, achievable and time-constrained.
Following several presentations and the sharing of information and encouragement, individual participants were asked to engage in discussion with peers about their respective chapters’ initiatives, challenges and goals.
“It is a work in progress, all ideas are welcome,” said Anne Lord, director of chapters for the Internet Society.
Ernesto Cruz, director of the ISOC Puerto Rico chapter, led a brief presentation on his chapter’s recent success in launching Internet Clubs, geared for youth. He said he is now focused on maintaining the momentum of his chapter and decreasing the digital divide in his country.
“Knowing there are more people in the same position we are and learning from opportunities that others bring to the table,” he said when asked about the benefits of attending the workshop.
The goals set by each chapter depend upon its resources and needs, according to Houstle.
“It’s looking at what they can do in their area to move that mission forward, and that’s going to vary significantly from chapter to chapter as each area has different needs,” he said.
Karen Rose, director of Access and Development Initiatives for the Internet Society, said chapters, especially those in the developing world, are united by their passion for expanding the Internet and making it better for all.
“It’s amazing when you think about it - that you have a group of people here from all over the world from the most developed to developing countries - that all fundamentally have the same aims, hopes and aspirations in terms of growing the Internet and making it work better,” she said. “When you think about it, it’s a pretty amazing congregation of people.”
Individual challenges can also exist - those that are varied depending on the country.
For example, the ISOC chapter in Senegal is faced with problems of access to the Internet, which is often limited due to power outages and energy shortages in the country, according to Aminata Sy, president of the chapters Next Generation Leader Group.
Her team is currently focusing on increasing chapter membership and instigating partnerships with the government.
Unique challenges face Mark Urban, who represents the Disabilities and Special Needs Chapter, one of only two global-membership ISOC chapters. As a result, the chapter aims to be cross-cutting with their concerns about the Internet.
“We have benefits because we have a group of people with consensus concerns, but we also have to include cultural differences from across the world in getting our membership engaged and identifying common issues across the world versus local issues,” he said.
He pointed out that the majority of emerging technologies are creating both advantages and disadvantages for users with disabilities, in some ways much more than for others, on both ends of the spectrum.
“There are greater and better opportunities to support people with disabilities," he said, "but we also have challenges because many of these become proprietary solutions. Many governments around the world have requirements for access by persons with disabilities but they are based on standards that new technologies have not developed yet.”
According to Houstle, addressing such concerns as a large group with varying levels of resources and goals is one of the primary benefits of the workshop. “The greatest value that is created by this kind of congregation is the sharing that occurs,” he said. “It’s not what I as a presenter tell them about how they can get things done, it’s what they share with each other about how they get things done.”
For Fouad Bajwa, the discussion is particularly meaningful as he works with a committee to launch three ISOC chapters in Pakistan.
“The Internet has a very beautiful aspect so that no one situation fits all,” he said. “Every community has it’s own social, cultural and religious norms and the way they interact with the Internet depicts the level of adoption or penetration of the Internet.”
In Pakistan specifically, use of the Internet is limited because of decreasing opportunities to create income and create better lives. Additionally, each region is faced with unique challenges affecting their ability to promote the Internet. “You have to realize the cost of access to the Internet and to get the Internet to the last mile in the country,” he said. “You have to do certain activities to get people together, engage in common issues and somehow sustain that dialogue as new issue comes. It’s about local and global activity together.”
- Reporter: Caitlin O'Donnell
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The multimedia reporting team for Imagining the Internet at the Internet Society's 20th Anniversary Global INET Conference included the following Elon University students, faculty, staff and friends: Jacquie Adams, Dan Anderson, Janna Anderson, Kacie Anderson, Nicole Chadwick, Jeff Flitter, Addie Haney, Brandon Marshall, Brian Meyer, Caitlin O'Donnell, Rachel Southmayd and Rebecca Smith.