The ancient city of Athens is playing host to the world over the next few days, and the event that brings everyone together is the much-awaited first meeting of th Internet Governance Forum (IGF). The IGF is a follow-up meeting to the concluded World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) that held in Geneva (2003) and Tunis (2005), and holding the first meeting in Athens (a city known for myths and ancient landmarks) is some sort of marriage between the old (city) and the new (Internet technologies).
On the IGF community website, IGF2006.info, a good description of the event is given: “The Internet Governance Forum, or IGF, is a remarkable experiment in knowledge and experience sharing across the Internet by all the people that use it, including business, governments, organisations and you, the individual. ‘Governance’ does not mean ‘government’, but rather the large and ongoing decisions made by societies across the globe when dealingwith the Internet. At this inaugural meeting in Athens, the issues have been divided into four main categories: openness, security, diversity and access.”
While tons of text and speeches will fly around in the next few days, it is hoped that at the end of the meeting, the world’s appropriate and accessible use of the Interent for development would have moved some steps ahead. While the next meetings of the IGF have been scheduled to hold in Brazil (2007), India (2008) and Egypt (2009), the issues discussed in Athens (openness, security, diversity and access) must be seen to have moved us forward. Otherwise, the cycle of meetings, speeches and coffee breaks will only favour hotels and host countries. The event’s webcast and audiocast can be accessed at www.igf2006.info.