Elon team documents Global Internet Governance Forum in Mexico

The School of Communications’ Imagining the Internet team posted 705 interview video clips featuring international participants at the 11th annual IGF, facilitated by the United Nations.

A 13-person documentary journalism team from Elon’s Imagining the Internet Center collected and published ethnographic video research at the U.N.-facilitated Global Internet Governance Forum in Jalisco, Mexico, during the week of Dec. 5-9. This year’s IGF drew nearly 2,000 participants from government, business, academia, the technology sector and civil society who gathered to illuminate issues and cultivate constructive discussions aimed at building the best global future. Thousands more followed the forum online, with #IGF2016 trending on social media platforms.

Elon's Imagining the Internet team at the IGF 2016 in Mexico included (from left) Aaron Moger, Maya Eaglin, Elizabeth Bilka, Ashley Bohle, Anna Zwingelberg, Alex Hager, Kailey Tracy, Melissa Douglas, Paul LeBlanc, Caroline Hartshorn and Vanessa Bravo.
​The Imagining the Internet team, which included 10 undergraduate researchers, conducted almost-real-time reporting, making its coverage available while in Mexico. Its comprehensive coverage is available for review here. The team’s video playlists are also available on the center’s YouTube channel.

Vanessa Bravo, assistant professor of communications, and Aaron Moger, Elon’s assistant director for video production, led the documentary research contingent. Student researchers included Elizabeth Bilka, Ashley Bohle, Melissa Douglas, Maya Eaglin, Alex Hager, Caroline Hartshorn, Paul LeBlanc, Kailey Tracy and Anna Zwingelberg. Elon student Diego Pineda Davila provided research assistance as well.

In preparation for the international gathering, the 10 students participated in an independent study course this fall with Janna Anderson, director of the Imagining the Internet Center and professor of communications. Anderson oversaw the group’s logistics and coverage, responsibilities she’s directed for the center’s seven previous IGF visits as well.

The team of student documentarians conducted a video survey at IGF to measure experts’ attitudes regarding the key issues tied to the future of the Internet. During the team’s four days on site, the students compiled 125 interviews and posted 705 video clips.

Elon junior Caroline Hartshorn (left) interviewed Ephraim Kenyanito, a Sub-Saharan Africa policy analyst at AccessNow.org, about key issues and challenges facing the Internet.
​“Our students interviewed a diverse cross-section of people, asking them six questions – and asking all the same questions the same way,” said Anderson. “It’s a convenience sample in an ethnographic setting that is so good that our students have been invited to present their research at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research every time they have attended the Global IGF.”

Among those interviewed were people from nearly 50 nations, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Germany, the Kyrgyz Republic, Sri Lanka, Iran, China, Mexico, Nigeria, Denmark, Portugal, South Africa, France, Brazil, Bangladesh, Lebanon, Colombia, Argentina, Uganda, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Italy, Trinidad and Tobago, India, Indonesia, Canada, Tunisia, Japan, Zimbabwe, Sweden, South Africa, Pakistan, the Ivory Coast, Afghanistan, Togo, Bosnia, Panama, Kenya, Peru, Namibia, Nepal, the Netherlands, the Kingdom of Tonga, Serbia, South Korea, Switzerland, Tanzania, the United States and Australia.

Among the 125 interviewees were top leaders from many national governments, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Internet Architecture Board, the Internet Society, the world’s major civil society and civil rights organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Association for Progressive Communications and major technology corporations including Oracle and CloudFlare and some of the world’s leading technology innovators, including Vint Cerf, Bob Frankston and John Klensin.

The Imagining the Internet team edited, captioned and uploaded more than 700 interview video clips during its time in Mexico. Pictured (from left) are Melissa Douglas, Paul LeBlanc, Alex Hager and Aaron Moger working at the team’s on-site location.
​Travel expenses were funded by the Imagining the Internet Center and the School of Communications.

IGF is one of the processes of the UN’s World Summit on the Information Society, aimed at contributing to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. To learn more about IGF and the 2016 event, visit www.intgovforum.org.

Additional information about the Imagining the Internet’s coverage of previous Global IGF meetings is available online. Past coverage highlighted events in Athens, Rio de Janeiro, Sharm El Sheikh, Vilnius, Nairobi and João Pessoa.