Why I’m not going to the IGF this year (and not tweeting it, either)

For many years, I have been a strong advocate for the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) and was even a member of the CSTD’s Working Group on IGF Improvements. I have been a consultant writer for the IGF Secretariat, and I cheered on the cause of the IGF’s continuation from the sidelines as an observer on the Australian government delegation during the UN General Assembly’s WSIS+10 negotiations in New York. Heck, I was even a booth babe back at WSIS Phase II in Tunis, on the Internet Pavilion, which aimed to “facilitate an understanding of why a collaborative and cooperative governance model is essential both to the success of the Internet and the development of the Information Society“.

So why I am not attending the IGF for only the second time since it started?

It’s tempting to say “I’m over it” and leave it at that. But that glib statement would be an over-simplification of why I’m not going to Geneva and not take into account the glimmer of hope I still hold out for the IGF as well as the fact that I’ve registered to participate online.

In summary, the factors contributing to why I’m not going to IGF this year are:

  1. The ever-expanding universe of Internet events and initiatives means I need to prioritize events more carefully
  2. Funding woes, sadly, but inevitably, have a negative impact on IGF, making it less of a “must be there” event
  3. The timing of IGF this year is terrible
    Trying to fly home to the other side of the planet during the pre-Christmas travel rush is a horrible thought. The fact that IGF couldn’t find a host for IGF 2017 until the last minute, and the fact that the last-minute volunteer, the Swiss government, wanted to make use of the free Palais des Nations facilities at the only time of year they’re available (because nobody is around in Geneva the week before Christmas), is yet another symptom of what happens when the IGF lacks the funding and commitment it needs to be truly successful.
  4. I need to be in Geneva in January
    The ITU’s Internet-related Council Working Groups and the final meeting of the CSTD Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation in January have more of a potential impact on the future direction of Internet development and policy than the IGF does, so they take priority over the IGF talkfest for me. As much as I enjoy the chance to meet with the wide variety of stakeholders that attend the IGF (increasingly, many people I know are going to IGF, not for the actual sessions, but for the side meetings with representatives of organizations they normally wouldn’t be in the same location with), I cannot face traveling to Geneva from Australia twice within a month, so the January meetings win.
  5. And yes, I’m over it
    “It” being Internet-related discussions and not the IGF specifically. It’s been a busy year and for the sake of my sanity, I just cannot handle another meeting regurgitating the same issues I’ve been following all year, with mostly the same group of people, just in different meeting rooms.

No funding = no tweeting

I’m so over it all, my usual goodwill to provide the community with a constant stream of information as impartially as possible (I defend my right to inject the occasional exasperated comment about manels), even when nobody’s paying for my time, has been depleted completely. Nobody’s paying me for this IGF, so no tweeting from me this time.

Instead, I point those of you who utilize my tweetstream to make their own jobs easier to the Geneva Internet Platform’s IGF 2017 reporting, which will consist of great daily reports from IGF as well as reports from individual IGF sessions. And of course, the IGF Chair’s Report at the end of the forum. And the IGF session transcripts, if you have lots of time on your hands.

This is part of a 4-part series on the IGF. The other 3 parts are:

4 thoughts on “Why I’m not going to the IGF this year (and not tweeting it, either)

  1. Sorry to read that you will not be there in Geneva for IGF2017.
    Hopefully you’ll follow online some of the debates.
    Keep up the very good work you’re doing, but take care!

    Wishing you a Merry Christmas!

    And see you again in January in Geneva.

    • Thanks Arnold! I will be following some of it remotely, but given the time difference, I may end up choosing sleep over the second part of each IGF day.

  2. You said it. I cannot begin to describe how empty Geneva is today. Neutron bomb empty. Post apocalyptic empty.

    There were people here yesterday. Not a lot, but some.

  3. Good on ya, Sam. This all needed to be said and your saying it should spark some debate. From my vantage point, it seems that the same drum’s been beaten until the skin is about to break. I think the whole community of Internet governance veterans should examine themselves honestly to decide if they are tireless warriors dedicated to the cause, or if they are in a rut. I believe that some fall into each camp, but I’m not at all sure everyone has checked in with their motives lately. Thanks, as always, for your thought provoking post.

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