Internet Governance 16 September 2010

The words of IGF

By Internet SocietyGuest Author

A lot of discussions are taking place at the IGF and I am very much interested in the discourse developing here.  Conveniently, the IGF makes verbatim transcripts available, so I thought I’d play a little bit with words used at the Forum.

Under the assumption that people spent a lot of time carefully preparing their opening statements to reflect their most up-to date stand on the issues, I started with looking at the transcript of the opening ceremony.  Of course this just an exercise and not a systematic analysis, but nevertheless, I think it is interesting and illustrative.

Below, you can see a word cloud of the transcript (thank you Wordle), where the size of the word represents the frequency of its appearance (the colors do not have meaning). The most common word was of course “internet,” but it was so disproportionally common that it made the rest of the visualization unreadable and I had to take it out.  Other then the internet, IGF was clearly a pivotal term, which also is not surprising.

Other than “internet” and “IGF” the word “like” was very common, but not very meaningful for the overall picture.  It was usually used to express an intention (e.g. “I would like to say X” or “I would like to thank Y,” which also explains the prominence of “thank”).  There are a number of other words that are common, but not especially informative in describing the substance of the statements beyond the formalities.

Of course, the word cloud gives just an overview and leaves a lot of room for speculation as to whether there were common threads across the speeches.  For example, an interesting word that was fairly common is “also.”  In itself, it does not say much, but if you explore this visualization, you will see that it is actually an indicator of the inclusive  and all-encompassing character of the IGF.  In other words, the speakers asked to bring numerous issues under the roof of IGF.

We can also see there was a lot of talk about governance, world, access, and development; some of those are topics being discussed in the IGF workshop.  There were also numerous references to people, togetherness, and multistakehoderism.  The statements were somewhat future oriented and focused more on the user and less on the community.  In terms of substantive topics, we can spot references to freedom, access, security. diversity, principles, openness, and growth.  Many of these topics are in fact also the focus of the numerous workshops at the meeting.

Of course this is only scratching the surface, but i find it interesting, especially if you try comparing it to the last year speeches (see below).


Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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