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Growing the Internet 14 July 2015

InterCommunity 2015: Using the Internet, for the Internet

By Kathryn BrownFormer President / CEO

Last week witnessed the culmination of months of planning and preparation as we gathered our global community together for our first ever InterCommunity event, a meeting which our community told us it wanted to hold. It was no ordinary meeting and I believe that what we have achieved together sets a new precedent for how we communicate as one Internet Society.

Our Board of Trustees and staff took on prominent roles in facilitating key discussions about some of the most important and pressing issues facing the future of the Internet, helping to ensure that the two global sessions were sufficiently engaging and that they reflected some of the differences in regional perspective that the meeting was originally designed to highlight. Volunteers across the world contributed both to the agenda as well as to the operation of this global hybrid meeting.

But what happened outside the two global sessions is equally, if not more important. The conversations that took place between participants in the different ‘node’ locations that were established to provide a physical reference point for anyone joining the meeting in person, enabled us to reach a new level of interaction between the people and places that form the basis of the Internet Society’s global membership. What is clear is that the context of the meeting enabled us to have an open, inclusive, sincere and honest exchange of views on a global scale. In achieving this, InterCommunity fulfilled much of its intended purpose.

For me, this fact demonstrates the success of the meeting on a number of levels. Firstly, we succeeded in bringing people together and in connecting them. Through a desire to engage, we have shown the strength and enduring commitment of our bottom-up community in working for a better Internet. Just looking at some of the attendance statistics from the meeting confirms the level of engagement and the role that InterCommunity can play in being a reference for future discussion:

  • We received registrations from 142 countries around the world
  • We hosted over 1,600 participants in the global sessions
  • These included over 1,000 online viewers across both global sessions. There were many more in viewing nodes.
  • 2,482 chat messages were exchanged during the global sessions

The second important take-away for me is that InterCommunity has showcased how we can use the Internet to connect, communicate and collaborate. From the farthest corner of the earth, Auckland, New Zealand, we successfully harnessed the Internet’s power. We connected a total of 15 nodes in cities around the world – Accra, Amsterdam, Bangalore, Geneva, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Manila, Montevideo, Nairobi, New York, Ottawa, San Salvador, Santo Domingo, Tunis and Washington DC. Just a few years ago, it would have been virtually unthinkable to use Internet technology in this way, but with the help of a robust network in a New Zealand hotel ballroom and using widely available, affordable applications, we were able to provide numerous ways to connect and communicate between the nodes and from anywhere with a browser. Indeed, we reasserted the agility of the Internet in supporting this kind of interactivity and extent of global engagement.  We successfully demonstrated that the technology that started out with roots in the world’s first packet networks can now successfully connect people on every continent on earth. In this sense, the Internet itself is it’s own greatest champion.

Above all, InterCommunity has highlighted to me that the Internet is the key to securing its own future; the vehicle that we must use to organize and enhance the greatest modern-day invention and unparalleled global resource. It also highlights the need for a globally connected and open platform, unhindered by artificial barriers to human communication.

The Internet Society intends to continue the global conversation on the Internet, for the Internet. We will take our learning from InterCommunity and expand, adapt and adopt future meetings to advance our Mission. We will use our belief in the attributes of this great technology to ensure that it continues to bring opportunity to everyone, everywhere. I hope you will join us.

We would love to know what you thought of InterCommunity 2015. I hope you are able to spare a few minutes to take this short survey about your experience to help us make future InterCommunity events even better!

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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