Perspectives on Internet Governance Research and Scholarship
03 September 2014 - A Workshop on in Istanbul,Turkey
The following is the output of the real‑time captioning taken during the IGF 2014 Istanbul, Turkey, meetings. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the session, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
>> WILLIAM DRAKE: This is loud. We are waiting for one more panelist and we'll get started in a couple minutes.
>> WILLIAM DRAKE: All right. I will ‑‑ oh, it's very loud, isn't it?
I moderated a panel this morning in a room with about 120 people. It was so loud from the other session, you could hear everything outside and in the next room, and we had to shout. Now we are in a room with not so many people and it's very loud. We echo.
(Please stand by. Internet outage.)
>> WILLIAM DRAKE: So there's some efforts under way to sort of institutionalise Internet Governance as a space academically. Nevertheless it remains the case that it is kind of an odd space, a transdisciplinary space. People come to it from law, socioeconomics, so on. There's no single theoretical set of concerns or ways of explaining phenomena that all Internet Governance scholars share. Nothing like that.
And it is not very well institutionalised in universities generally yet around the world. There are some places where you have Internet studies and Internet and society type programmes, but Internet Governance itself I think enjoys a much less status in the institutional context of universities as well as think tanks, research institutes and so on. The people who are doing interesting work in the field are kind of sprinkled around in a lot of different institutions and disciplines and struggling to find a common vocabulary, a common set of issue that define their agenda in a way to sort of build the field's coherence in the sense of developing a progressive research programme that would lead to its clarification and articulation.
We are really, even after ten years of discussion around this, I think still at a very early stage in the development of scholarship around Internet Governance. We have some new journals that have been created, things like that. But we are in the early stage. So it's good to use the IGF to take stock of where we are, what we think some of the most important pressing issues are and how scholars can proceed going forward and engage in more productive dialogue with non‑scholars as well.
That's sort of the background thinking to this session. With that said, I am going to turn to my panelists and ask them to provide seven minutes or so of opening remarks about what they think some of the more interesting current challenges is and we'll have interactive dialogue and open it up to discussion with those of you on the floor.
We have a relatively manageable group. I think we should be able to have a good interactive discussion. I'm looking forward to this. Again, I conclude and I turn it over to Urs Gasser to start us. Urs?
>> URS GASSER: Wonderful. Thank you very much, Bill, for this introduction and for moderating the panel. My name again is Urs Gasser. I'm originally from Switzerland, but have been living in the States for quite a while. I do a lot of international work. It is a real pleasure to be here today and talk about the topic that is really close to my heart. It is very interesting to pick it up where Bill left it. On Monday morning I attended this GigaNet Forum. Any of you attended as well, by the way? Some of you? Yeah? Okay, great.
And it was very, very thoughtful set of presentations and intriguing papers. I encourage you to check it out.
And at least the first couple of presentations took a closer look at notions of Internet Governance from this academic perspective. Listening to these presentations, it's kind of a moment where you are not sure if you're a glass half full or a glass half empty person, right? Because the glass half full person in me said wow, that's amazing. All the work that is happening here, the good work underway, the insight that the researchers presented. Of course, as place holders for academia at large. There's a lot to work with in terms of what we know about governance from other fields, what we can learn from other fields and incorporate into Internet Governance discussions.
There are all sorts of disciplines we can borrow from, from law and political science to behavioral economics, you name it. So we have lots of tools to work with. When we think of methods even and methodologies we can deploy to make sense of what is happening in this world.
But then there is also the glass half empty person in me, leaving the room with some sort of sobering feeling that suggests, well, there's still a lot of open questions about very fundamental even definitions, terms, what concepts mean. Internet Governance was kind of the focal point of the morning, but of course we could ask the same questions: What do we mean by transparency? What do we mean by accountability? What do we mean by participation? The likelihood as we all know coming out of multi‑stakeholder discussions today ‑‑ and we'll continue them tomorrow ‑‑ is that we mean different things by these terms.
You can say that's typically academic. There is this person starting talking about definitions, but I think that will be a misunderstanding to basically just label questions ...
(Internet down. Please stand by.)
>> URS GASSER: There is a lot of need for clarification. There is a potential role for academia. Now, the second element that Bill nicely mentioned and he kindly mentioned in his introduction is this network of, interdisciplinary centers which all of us are participating in and contributing to which brings together 30 centers and growing around the globe to work on Internet and society as large, as Bill said.
More recently, however, we thought: Okay, given the uncertainty that we have, given the current landscape of Internet Governance and the many research questions as they present themselves to us as academics, could we engage in a coordinated research effort that brings together people from around the globe, research centers from around the world. We have other ten centers from the Global South alone, to make progress or at least contribute to the clarification of some of these key terms and key concepts by specifically reflecting on local experiences that we have around the world on Internet Governance issues and those other forms of governance.
So what we are working on right now starting in a kind of very modest way is we picked one particularly popular concept out of the roadmap and Hilfuss panel which is the notion of distributed good governance and distributed Internet Governance models, groups, mechanisms, and asked ourselves: Okay, what does that mean? More specifically what could that mean in the future? How do we build distributed governance systems? How do we operate them? How do we evaluate them? There are a number of guiding questions.
We teamed up with a number of centers out of this network. And we are currently working on a set of about 12 case studies. Again, from different countries and different contexts, where we have seen examples or experiments with that sort of distributed Internet Governance mating.
To give an example, the Turkish Internet Improvement Board ‑‑ and Leyla is a member of that board ‑‑ is an example. Or CITBR that received a lot of attention in Brazil, something Marilia is familiar. And the group that Jeanette is a member, or the kind of case studies that we are currently looking into. We will present drafts on October 1st and 2nd in Turin of these case studies and hope to also connect this first set of case studies, to distal lessons learned from each with respect to this question of what does it mean to establish and operate distributed governance systems by the end of the year. So we hope to come up with a synthesis paper.
If I can have one more minute? That exercise ‑‑ and this goes back to how I started. That exercise is in our view just kind of a proof of concept. It is a pilot, a research pilot to demonstrate what an academic global network building up the great work of people like Bill Drake and Milton Mueller and many others, what we can contribute almost realtime as a discussion is going on, the global discussion and the quest for new governance models.
The hope is very much that based on that pilot, we can also think about a future research agenda that is perhaps more ambitious in scope that moves from high level conceptual questions to implementation issues, to design issues. Then, of course, ultimately also move from research to education and facilitation and experimentation and tool‑building, all activities that are also academic or where academia can play an important role.
These are a few opening thoughts provoked by this wonderful GigaNet symposium that Bill contributed to and Milton Mueller hosted.
>> WILLIAM DRAKE: That was very interesting. Should I adjust this to eight minute instead of seven? Is seven okay, Marilia? Please don't talk too fast because of the translators and remote participants, if any, and the taping and so on. Marilia?
>> MARILIA MACIEL: You're right. I do speak fast, Bill. I'll slow down.
I was here this morning in another session and when our moderator introduced the session, the first thing she said was: Okay, talk about anything you want but don't come to NTIA and the functional transition because we heard enough of that. I said I will start there, but I am not going to focus on that.
I'll tell you the same now. I am not going to talk about NETmundial. I was part of the Executive Committee that organized the meeting and had the work to develop the first draft and that was put under public consultation. It was a very interesting experience. But what I want, I start with NETmundial, with two points. The first is areas of research that I think they opened or at least made more important for the academic community. I think there are some gaps that research are required. And my second point would be to give an example of that, two case studies that we are developing at the Centro de Tecnologia e Sociadade and how we are conducting this research. I think NETmundial, it had two points that could be used as starting point of research. I work with Internet Governance more in the perspective of researching the global architecture frame of Internet Governance. What are the institutions? What are the actors? How are they organized?
From the perspective of the organisation of Internet Governance, I think that NETmundial, three pieces of the document, they paved the way for a more constant evolution of the ecosystem. The first of them is when the document talks about an Internet Governance framework. I know that we all remember for how many years we have been discussing about the polarity, the polarization between centralized models that maybe would be localized under the United Nations and distributed models. Of course, we know that the controversy is far from being over. We have WSIS +10 coming up next year, but I think the document that was approved by the NETmundial clearly makes a recommendation for executive models. It is interesting to read through all the recommendations presented to NETmundial and see how there is massive support for distributed models for Internet Governance. This made it to the outcome document, which has multi‑stakeholder support. So I see this as a step forward in this debate. We have a document to anchor this position now.
The second point that I think the document talks about that could give food for thought for more research is the roles of the stakeholder groups for many years as well we have been discussing based on the definitions that were laid out in the tunes agenda. I think ten years after Tunis it becomes that those definitions are not enough. We need to move forward with that. I think that the document shows that we have achieved some maturity in this conversation when it talks about the flexible and different roles and responsibilities of stakeholders, depending on the issue under discussion, on the policy and the moment of the debate of the discussion.
This is something important that needs to fleshed out and better understood. What are then these policies that require the participation of stakeholders in different ways, for instance? This is something that has started to be explored. It was a very interesting paper presented in GigaNet last year that they discussed multi‑stakeholderism and the role of different actors, but more work certainly needs to be done on that aspect.
And the third area, I think it is related to knowledge to the production of information and knowledge when we are talking about Internet Governance. One of the difficulties that we have, and that supports the idea that a more centralized model be something welcome, is that it is very hard to read the ecosystem and to understand what is going on, and to understand where you should go when you want to discuss a specific issue or to have a clear picture of the different fora in which one issue, such as privacy, is being discussed now. The document lays a foundation for a clearinghouse that would be a place for dissemination for information. Bill wrote a chapter in a book he published with Monroe Price on the topic of the clearinghouse. Maybe that's a topic that he can explore with us further. It is an important thing in the document and it's good that it made it into the document.
I think that as NETmundial was a very important event and we can see that by the fact that it is already creating consequences into the future. Two of these consequences is the first one that talks about how improvements have become more concrete. We had the report on IGF improvements, but the discussion has not really moved forward. I think after NETmundial we have the political push to implement some of the changes that would make the IGF more effective and outcome oriented and more strong even in terms of resources. This is an important point.
The second development after NETmundial is of course the NETmundial initiative. It is good initiative if it follows the principles that have been laid out by NETmundial, but the initiative draws from a document that I think maybe we should pay more attention to, which is the report of the high level panel that has been coordinated or facilitated with by ICANN. It produced the IBIS report. There are some interesting ideas in that report. It is the first time that I'm aware that clearly kind of lays out a roadmap for us to make decisions in distributed networks. There were some proposals that have been advanced, mostly by civil society/academic people before. And I think that this document kind of goes in a similar direction, but it is more organized in terms of methodology and steps to make decisions in distributed networks going from issue identification to solution mapping, solution formulation and solution implementation. Probably this is something we could be looking into in the future.
One thing that I believe is missing from this report is one concern that many actors have, not only Developing Countries but civil society and other less resource actors, which is how distributed Internet Governance networks will bridge the gap that we face right now in terms of, if you think about policy development, the ideal or traditional space for development is on the national level. On the national level we have instruments of democratic control and accountability which allow us to understand, of course, the system has failed and has problems, but to understand if a policy or a regulation has been developed or not following democratic standards. We don't have the same on the global level. We don't have the same on the distributed networks.
I think one lesson from NETmundial is that the process is important. If we want to create distributed networks, it is not enough to say, as the report does, okay, let's create networks around specific issues and interest the people will call us because the people that are going to call us around those issues are people who are already participating. We should not forget that globalization, one of the effects is that some people have become indeed globalized but more have become more localized, territorialized. If we don't want the distributed governance networks to be populated by people who are already participating, we need to have a process. We need to have structure.
So it is not only methodology, but we want to couple the discussion of Internet Governance. I think this is another strong point of NETmundial's document, it talks about multi‑stakeholderism with democracy. We have to think about not the democracy we have on the local level but how the principles of transparency and participation could be developed in the networks. Otherwise we will be alienating part of the people who should be included in these discussions.
Those would be my first remarks. Thank you.
>> WILLIAM DRAKE: Thank you very much. Okay. So let's turn now to Leyla for a Turkish view.
>> LEYLA KESER: Thank you very much, Bill. And I would like to thank you also for ‑‑ sorry?
Okay. Thank you very much for being here with us. I would like to thank you also for the IGF and also the Turkish government in order to accept this Open Forum as a part of IGF Istanbul. I would like to share with you the perspective of Istanbul in Turkey or approach and point of view in terms of distributed Internet Governance or multi‑stakeholder Internet Governance model or the topic itself.
According to me, there is an Internet Governance ecosystem. I call this ecosystem as a puzzle. This puzzle consists of different components. There are lots of important pieces of that puzzle. One of them is academia. And as a part of this puzzle, I describe academia incubation, as incubation of ideas. Just because we academic people have an important duty that is we have to teach young people. And these young people which we called Y‑generation is more than familiar than all of us, can I say all of us, more than familiar to the technology, Internet and kind of inter‑idea issues.
During all courses, it is important to get their opinions and views. When we discuss with them Internet Governance or multi‑stakeholder Internet Governance issues, it's really important for me to know what the next generation think about the current problems or current debate on Internet Governance issues.
On the other side, as an academic institution, we are in nexus of all other stakeholders. As an independent platform, we can combine together all related stakeholders in order to discuss and create or shape ideas in order to determine the problems or topics to discuss or problems to resolve.
It is another important aspect of academia, particularly in Turkey. On the other side, we have a kind of direction capability based on or academic experience based on our ac deem I can papers, et cetera. It has also significant importance to affect the people, to affect other stakeholders, based on the facts and findings of our academic papers or academic research activities.
And the next step is important to me. With international, global academic collaborations and also institutional collaborations, it is also important for us just because it enables to use our time and effort more efficiently. For example, Marilia mentioned several reports and also the works on distributed Internet Governance. There are lots of resources around us in terms of international works, et cetera, which show us the way which we should follow. And it has also importance when we start to create, when we start to think about all local distributed Internet Governance models.
So that is my initial points.
>> WILLIAM DRAKE: Thank you very much, Leyla. We turn to our final perspective. By the way, Leyla, you beat the clock. You've got two minutes left. Would you like to add anything? Okay, later. You're a model of efficiency.
Jeannette, will you meet the same standard or not?
>> JEANETTE HOFMANN: I don't think so. Don't raise the expectations too high. I am going to talk about somewhat unique model. It is called our Enquete Commission. Perhaps best English equivalent would be a parliamentary inquiry commission. But what is special about this specific type of parliamentary inquiry commission is that it is composed to 50 percent of members of the parliament. The other 50 percent are external experts such as academics like me, but also professionals.
So what Enquete Commissions basically do, they try to create an interface between democratically legitimized decision makers and experts. So it is the idea to bring together those who make decisions on our behalf and researchers and professionals who have the expertise necessary to make those decisions.
As far as I know there is only one other country that actually has this kind of inquiry commissions, and that is Austria. The tradition goes back to the 1960s and there are sort of part of the parliamentary process. They are instituted by rules and regulations of the parliament.
The way it works, the parliament says yes, here is a complex long‑term issue. We need to know more about this issue before we as a parliament feel equipped enough intellectually to make laws or other forms of decisions on it. They have a fairly extensive mandate. So Enquete Commissions work for two, three, four, five years. The one that I wrote my case study for Urs' project about was an Enquete Commission called Internet and The Digital Society. It ran from 2010 until 2013. It had all in all 34 members, half of them as I said members of the parliament. The other half consisted of lawyers, political scientists, businessmen, but also a few social civil society representatives, members of unions, et cetera.
The mandate we had was given by the parliament. It covered diverse range of subjects such as copyright, net neutrality, data protection, green IT, education, security, and on and on and on. So all in all, about roughly 15 different subjects.
The way we worked is that we formed working groups consisting of all the groups present in the Enquete commission on each of these issues. The outcome of these working groups and of Enquete commissions more generally are reports. These reports again always consist of two parts. One part is sort of the state of things. So we are all members who do research and collect information on the given subject. And the second part is a set of recommendations. And now, what worked really well in this Enquete Commission is collect information about the state of things. Because what we early agreed upon is that we would collect also diverse perspectives and diverse resources. So what we would typically do is on really contested issues such as net neutrality, we would say there is a big political controversy on the subject and group A thinks ABC. And Group B thinks EFG. And it is for third‑parties to decide what side is the correct one or what perspective the parliament wants to pursue.
This worked quite well. We would try in a neutral way to describe the controversy, what it was about, and present again in a neutral way the various perspectives, opinions that we could find and could sort of give evidence for.
But what is very difficult for these commissions is to actually come up with political recommendations. It is particularly difficult when a subject such as net neutrality is very close to sort of every day kind of politics and legislation.
The issues that were rather remote from legislation we could more easily agree upon. But everything that is really close to legislative processes would be dominated by the various parties being represented in the parliament. Here we would have on the Enquete Commission majority votes on the recommendations. But at the same time we would have minority positions represented in the reports. When they were short, they would be on the same page. If they were long, they would be in an annex of the report. That is not as easy to find as the majority vote positions.
So why is that relevant in the context of distributed governance structures? The message that I got out of our work when I started writing this case study is that collecting information and presenting it to those who are in a position to make decisions is a way of enhancing the legitimacy of the decision making processes that are not part of parliamentary national processes. What we typically find for issues like Internet Governance is that they are transnational. Therefore, it's very difficult to come up with legitimate ways of decision making. Basically, what we heard already earlier, what Marilia, for example, reported about, the difficult issue is to come up with legitimate structures and sort of collecting knowledge in the way that we know what the options are and what possible implications are, can be a way of substituting the LEK of democratically constituted decision making structures and sort of try to replace that or complement that by knowledge, presenting knowledge in a way that we know what we are doing.
>> WILLIAM DRAKE: Thank you very much. That was very efficiently concluded.
Okay. So I hear several sort of broad themes emerging inductively from this conversation. One is that academics can play an important role in contributing to the clarification of key concepts that are being bandied about, often in the Internet Governance dialogues and actual governance processes as being the base for moving forward with new institutional developments, initiatives, so on and so forth and that very often the lack of clarity, specifically on what some of these terms may mean, can be problematic in terms of the possible trajectories that are followed going forward.
More generally I heard, I think, building off of that, a concern with the ways in which scholars can contribute to these larger discussions. What the interface is, as Leyla says, is a piece of the puzzle in the ecosystem. If one thinks about the Internet Governance ecosystem and it is a term that is somewhat problematic. We all came to use it lately, but it has been institutionalized in our collective discourse in the last few years. It is problemetising itself, I think, but let's think about it as a concept.
If you think of how that is composed, we have an array of what you can say vertically organized governance spaces that deal with particular issues and by different institutions. You have the bodies that deal with names and numbers, the ICANN, you have the technical standards, EITF, the bodies that deal with Intellectual Property and bodies that deal with digital trade, eCommerce, privacy, on and on and on. Then you have cross‑cutting horizontal types of social formations.
In the panel that Marilia referred to, I was involved in that process and involved in the discussions. We talked about those as enablers. We talked about the roles of expert communities, professional communities such as academia, but also more bounded focused expert communities like the Internet Society or others like that, right?
We talked communities of practice. We talked about capacity building programmes or capacity development. We now have to say capacity development. I'm not entirely sure what the difference is, but capacity development programmes. We are involved with those with the schools of Internet Governance that have been established that many of us participate in, as well as Diplo Foundation and other various types of activities.
The other one was dialogue forums, places like the IGF and others that contribute to discussion. All of these can be thought of in a way, social formations that feed into and bring life into those different vertically structured institutions, pump new people into them, multiple new ideas into them, cross cut them and tie them together through policy networks and distributed networks of expertise, people who are involved in different spaces, et cetera.
So they are an important part of the ecosystem and one that is often overlooked. Academia fits in in that context. The question is exactly how we want to define that relationship. It's something that we all struggled with. The incentive structures for academics are so different from what they are for people who want to be involved in policy. If you are somebody who runs around going to ICANN and IGF meetings like me, you can have scholar colleagues saying what are you doing going there when you should be at the American Political Science Foundation presenting a paper that will be published in a journal read by 150 people and peer reviewed and that helps you move your career forward. You say yes, but I'm actually trying to be part of the real world discussions and contribute to concrete real world outcomes. They think, but that's not developing the scholarly field! So there's this, always this problem for academics of how much to engage in applied research, how much to engage in policy dialogue without endangering their status in academia. I think that's something everybody struggles with. The kind of folks who come to IGF tend to be the people who have chosen to be a little bit suicidal and do that. For a lot of other folks, they don't want to.
That's an inhibiting factor. I think also, by the way, to me ‑‑ and I would be curious about your thoughts on this ‑‑ I think disciplinarity is a limiting factor. I come from a political science background and taught in departments of communication. And political science, the way it was institutionalized historically, established a focal points around a bounded, structured conception of the field. I'm from the States, so you had a field that was divided into political theory, American politics, comparative politics which is national level politics in different countries, and international politics. Those four. Everything fits into those four boxes.
And scholars that I know would say to me: Well, you're doing this policy kind of work and not framing it in terms of the literature. For them, what you have to do is you have to write stuff that says: As so and so says, year, date, et cetera, it's all about building off of the literature to show your bonafides and position yourself in the discourse. If you are engaging in broader policy discussion, you don't fit in well. So the incentives of disciplinarity, the fact that you are supposed to behave and write in a particular way inhibit people's ability, I think also to contribute. This may be less so for lawyers. For political scientists, social scientists, I think it's a problem.
So that's something I think is worth contemplating. Communication is a very differently institutionalised field and a very fragmented one with many, many different kind of focal points and not as much of a coherent, intellectual body of thought that one has to cite and position one's self in.
Other fields are different. But so the question then is, you know, how do we build Internet Governance studies as a space when we've got those incentives towards disciplinary fragmentation and how do we engage effectively between doing scholarly work that builds a space for Internet Governance studies and also being applied and relevant?
Does anyone want to build on that a little bit? Should I go to the audience and see if others have thoughts?
Yeah? Sure, Marilia, go.
>> MARILIA MACIEL: Well, I think that first of all we have, and you have heard me talk about that earlier. We have an additional difficulty with Internet Governance which is the fact of how the stakeholders have been organized and laid out in terms of participation. The academics have been conflated with the technical community. Over the years we have grown with the understanding that the academics that conflate with the technical communities are the ones from hard sciences. The ones from political sciences had no space to participate. Many times we participate as civil society.
Most of the committees and commissions that I have been part in my life, I participated as civil society representative. I think it makes our work a little bit harder because the logic through which the two groups work are different. So civil society has the goal to convey broadly simple ideas that will make people conflate around and convey simple messages, while academics need to question concepts and ideas, as we have been discussing here.
It is not the same logic. When I stop to write, I recognize that I have a lot of difficulty. Sometimes I'm not sure if what I'm putting on paper is something that has been internalised as the ecosystem, for instance. Sometimes it's really hard for you to think critically about these concepts and ideas when you participate on a day‑by‑day basis as civil society.
I think that another thing is that for some areas, you can write about them without leaving the area. But for new areas like Internet Governance it is really hard to do it. The few attempts of academics that I have read that do not participate in and the few that are starting to write about it, because now everybody wants to talk about Internet Governance, they convey interesting ideas. But it is try to forcefully make the field fit into something that it is not supposed to. To quote an example, I know that we have called Internet Governance a regime since the beginning because of the definition. But if you go to the traditional definition of regime it would not really fit there. Regimes are, for a start, are government‑led. They are started by governments.
Of course, they are organised with other actors, but the logic is different. Traditional regime theory does not apply very well. But we apply it. The few academics that started to publish about Internet Governance recently, they are calling it an ecosystem; a regime of regimes, because it is regimes gathered together. It is a very not helpful way of understanding the field. Of course they are using established theory to do it. Probably they will be the ones that will be read. It is hard for you to coin new terms to explain when you don't have them available. But you can only coin new terms when you really participate and you understand why regime theory does not apply here. You understand the actors, so on. It is a fair trade to us. You need to be in the field to understand and understand what we are writing about. We have to be careful because of the reasons I mentioned before. And that is why I think it's so important to have spaces like this in which we can talk between academics and develop understanding about concepts.
We were talking before the session, you mentioned concepts. I think this is a very interesting issue. Like NETmundial documents, distributed documents have been elevated to the level of principles. It is a principle that under pins regimes. When you call something a principle, it has consequences because no principles are something that if you change a principle, which is the very base of the regime, the regime changes itself.
We are very much ossifying the idea of distributed networks here. Maybe it is a good thing here. I am not making a judgment, passing a judgment. Are we aware that we are doing that? Or we find the idea of distributed governance beautiful and we start to call it a principle? But it has important theoretical and practical implications for our future, like you said. These are the difficulties I have.
>> WILLIAM DRAKE: Let me try a different angle. Coming with back to what we just talked about. I thought the term ecosystem was problematic and everybody nodded. Okay?
So fine. Why is it problematic? I mean, this term has become deeply entrenched now as a meta framing for everything that we are doing. How do we view it? I have my own views about this but I would like to hear from others first. What do you see as being the pluses or minuses of the fact that people in decision‑making positions, people with resources, people who control institutions can now go down to this idea that we should think about this entire environment as an ecosystem. What are the consequences of that?
Jeannette, what do you think?
>> JEANETTE HOFMANN: First, it makes me smile. I remember, you probably remember that we once had a discussion on that topic in Berlin. We were also liked to talk about it. Urs liked it and I really dislike the term. I don't use it. I can hear that everybody seems to like it because it has sort of a diffused throughout the Internet Governance world within, I would say, a few months. And I always have been wondering why people like this term.
I am now going to explain why I really dislike it. First of all, the system part I think is just wrong because what we usually engage with are people, strategies, intentions. And the whole notion is that we want to be the ones who shape that space. Whereas ecosystem, I connote with completely different forces, forces like selection, where sort of plants and animals interact in a way where change surely takes place but not in an intentional way driven by what the entities in that system on a daily basis do.
So I think the term ecosystem actually fails to emphasize the driving forces in the Internet Governance space.
>> LEYLA KESER: It is an interdisciplinary area and therefore, for example, at the institute we have also courses on Internet Governance. And one of my colleagues here who is responsible for those courses takes into consideration this fact. There is an interdisciplinary area ahead of us. Therefore, it is not fully legal, not fully technical, not fully political but consists of all kind of different areas, brands. Therefore, within our massive programme, we try to combine together technical people over the years and also related governmental officers. Also civil society representatives.
We try to combine almost all of the related stakeholders together and in order to share their opinion and their point of views and approach with us. Otherwise, it is really difficult to create the courses or create an environment on Internet Governance issues. We have to work, and we have to work very closely with other stakeholders in order to create something.
>> WILLIAM DRAKE: Marilia, ecosystem? Does that capture the nature of the environment we are in?
>> MARILIA MACIEL: Opinions? I don't have an opinion.
>> WILLIAM DRAKE: Okay. I'll give you mine in a second. Urs? I hear you're an advocate.
>> URS GASSER: Well, I think that is not entirely true. I don't feel that strongly about it. My support or why I use the term, first of all, there is no obvious alternative that I find more convincing.
Second, there is an element that I like about it. At the same time I share also your concerns. Since you articulated them so eloquently, let me focus on what I like about it.
I like it because the connotation of the term suggests a certain degree of complexity. It suggests a certain degree of interdependence among the different elements which may be living elements, but also nonliving technical elements. It suggests some sort of a flow perspective as we look at this space, or whatever the alternative term would be. These are some of the qualities that I find particularly helpful as some sort of a mental model that we build.
For instance ‑‑ well, I don't want to go into that, but we all know metaphors matter, whether we think of the Internet as a series of pipes or something more dynamic. Obviously that is very important. So that part of what it connotates or at least what I connotate, that, I like. Yeah, I like it.
>> WILLIAM DRAKE: Okay. I'll give my view and open it up to the audience.
I think it's an ideological strategy. If you look at how the term got introduced into literature or the discussion, it largely came from the technical community. It came from Vint and various other people writing over and over and over, describing the I‑star institutions as comprising an ecosystem.
In fact, if you look on the ICANN website they have this lovely, extraordinary graphic that shows how the multi‑stakeholder ecosystem works, where bottom‑up, people all collaborate together and dialogue. The decisions are made that satisfy everyone. These are then ratified and become policy. The groups that they show being involved in this are all the I‑star institutions and W3C and ITS and the IGF. I don't think that captures the Internet Governance environment. There's a lot of Internet Governance decision making that goes on in the governmental sphere and in the intergovernmental sphere, which is not part of that particular institutional matrix, number one, which is kind of blocked out by that.
Moreover, I think that the term implies a certain stability and harmony, right? It is sort of, when you talk about the ecosystem, when people think about an ecosystem unless they are talking about Corianna‑Kabalarian philosophy, nature out of balance. Ecosystem is organisms living together in their environment. If you buy into that framing, the way it's discussed, you get the idea that these relationships are working together, happy feedback systems, the system is all self correcting, everything is wonderful. That denies human agency, as you indicated.
To me, the world of Internet Governance is a political space. It is a space in which power and politics and divided interests and other things get played out. So there are some down sides to it. But the up sides, I agree with you, Urs, it emphasizes both the intra‑organisational and the inter‑organizational connectedness. And it emphasizes also those transinstitutional enabling connective tissues I talked about before whether it's the policy networks, expert communities, so on and so forth. So it gives you a holistic vision in a way of the space. And having interrelated component parts.
But it just sounds to me a little static and too happy. That's just my own view. I would be very curious about other people's views.
We have now tossed around a number of ideas. I see a gentleman in the back who has been waving and me and is urgently desirous to speak. I will maintain. We will go to the gentleman in the back, the woman in front and then Carlos.
>> AUDIENCE: Thank you very much.
>> WILLIAM DRAKE: Introduce yourself.
>> AUDIENCE: Mikhail Komarov, National Research House of Economics, Moscow. I would like to share a bit of experience of what we are talking about. Firstly when we begin an idea of researching and studying Internet Governance and teaching Internet Governance. We faced some problems of these multidimensional, and the course could be designed. For example, for lawyers it seems like the legal subject. For political scientists, it seems the political subject. For economists it seems like an economic subject and so on like that. But we created our experience is to create interdisciplinary research group from different faculties. And we should be based on participation in the Internet Governance Forum and now we are on the way even to the masters programme of Internet Governance in our university.
So the basic approach is multi‑subjects approach, to cooperate between people who are dealing with different areas and fields of study.
It is just an experience, so learning Internet Governance. Maybe someone could also have another idea how to deal, especially for those who are not experts, for the students. It is always interesting for newcomers, for students who want to deal with this research in the field of Internet Governance.
The last word. Firstly, when I am speaking about Internet Governance with the non‑prepared auditorium, I always are faced with the question from the auditorium: How is it possible to govern the Internet? It is not possible. The Internet is free. It is not possible for any kind of governance.
But I designed the course and it is named realization of the constitutional rights and freedoms on the Internet. Thank you very much.
>> WILLIAM DRAKE: Before you sit down may I ask you, I'm very curious. Can you give him back the mic, please. In Russia when people talk about governance, one of the central concepts of the Internet Governance literature and a lot of reasons scholarship on governance in the West has been that governance is not necessarily equated with government, but can be done by non‑state actors, so on and so forth.
Does that same approach resonate in Russian scholarship? Is there more of a presumption that the State plays an important role?
>> AUDIENCE: About the literature, firstly I used, of course, there is a kind of strange term because a lot of strange terms for Russian people even. They didn't want to know or didn't know what about the multi‑stakeholderism, what it is. So firstly, I recommend them the book by Johan Copalia. This is the first for students. And Internet Governance. Also doing research not only by scientific books but by organizing the workshops, by watching the Forum, by organizing the hubs and they are studying on live regime. They are asking questions in remote participation in the Forum. I think next state is to send some students to the Forum to participate. That would be very nice.
>> WILLIAM DRAKE: You should bring your students to the Forum. I think that's a good idea.
Thank you. The mic goes to the woman down here. Did you have your hand up also, sir? There was somebody else first and I'll come back to you. Do we have a question from the remote participants? Let me take this woman first, please.
>> AUDIENCE: Thank you. Hi. My name is Kamilia, from Indonesia. I am a student for communication studies in University of Indonesia. Also working for the university in a small province in Sumatra Island. It is exciting for me to hear all of you here, hear your presentation. It's a privilege for me, coming from a small province in Indonesia.
I would like to share also my new experience. This is my second participation in IGF and me and my colleagues, we just published research about Internet Governance in Indonesia, but related to LGBT and families and career studies. We started this research because there is LGBT sites are being blocked in Indonesia. How we try to find some ways and roads, what is happening about Internet Governance in Indonesia. Is it there or how is the involvement of multi‑stakeholder, et cetera?
And I'm interested in what you are saying about involving more young people and the research about Internet Governance. I really agree with that because I feel they are the generation I think for the Internet era. But for GigaNet and network of the research of Internet Governance I would like to know more about where and how is the young people's network researchers for Internet Governance, how have you been planning about networks and support for them? Because my experience when I tried to write and finish this research, I kind of like were really looking for people like you, for example, who want to discuss and share and something like that.
So yeah, I think that's it. Thank you.
>> WILLIAM DRAKE: Okay, thank you very much. Carlos, and then the remote participant? We'll take the remote question first? We'll take the remote question first and then Carlos.
>> REMOTE MODERATOR: We have a question from Egypt. His name is Amir Onsuch for the panelists. Are there any existing frameworks or concepts. In your roles as researchers and academics find particularly useful when approaching Internet Governance and the complexities of multi‑stakeholder involvement. If the answer is yes, examples will be appreciated.
>> WILLIAM DRAKE: Just to understand, reading the transcript, it says are there frameworks or concepts? Is that the question?
>> REMOTE MODERATOR: Frameworks or concepts, yes.
>> WILLIAM DRAKE: Frameworks and concepts. Okay. Carlos? We'll take all the questions and come back as a group and go through and see which ones people want to respond to.
>> AUDIENCE: Carlos from Internet Society Chapter, Costa Rica. I was going to stand still because there are no economists in the panel but then Ellie Naum walked in. That gives me the inspiration to ask about economics of governance. My idea of governance is, to whom do you go if something goes wrong? Particularly in economic terms?
My question to the panel is, if somebody is doing some what‑if analysis, what if the governance model does not work well? And from my perspective, not working well in terms of economics could be a series of scenarios that the productivity increases in the Developing Countries aren't as great or that competition is not enhanced and we will get the antitrust busters soon into the governance discussion. Or that the new gTLDs will create walled gardens and protected areas that aren't as open as the Internet, is somebody doing research on that? If the research is positive and says that well, Internet Governance is perfect, it's taking care of economic welfare, everything is solved, what other social problems can be solved with these multi‑stakeholder bottom‑up governance models? Thank you.
>> WILLIAM DRAKE: Carlos, I'm not sure you have to be an economist to answer those questions, but we can certainly bring Ellie into the conference.
There was a gentleman back here with his hand up. I'll come back to you, and back to you. Okay. The gentleman back here.
>> AUDIENCE: Hello. Bedii Kaya, Professor and lecturer on Internet Governance. I'm also ISOC Ambassador on the IGF. This is a comment, not so much a question. This is a comment provided by my Russian colleague. I think the issue is that when the same understanding is also applied, also applied to Turkey when in lecture I have ask two questions: Who governs the Internet? The answer is the U.S. does through ICANN. The miss understanding between governance and government is also valid for Turkey as well. But the issue is why do we need governance? I think it is really important. The answer is quite straightforward. If we don't have governance we will have government. At the end of the day there will be fragmentation of the Internet. It will not be the Internet at all at the end of the day. So there is really a need to distinguish these according to, with regard to the difference between governance and governments. Thank you so much.
>> WILLIAM DRAKE: Again, your name was?
>> AUDIENCE: Bedii Kaya. Thank you.
>> AUDIENCE: Walid Al‑Saqaf, a lecturer at the Obrero University in Sweden. I come back full circle in Istanbul because I started my academic career at the Tecnic University here. And I remember, recall very vividly how the Internet infrastructure in the '70s, the dial‑up days was developing in Turkey. Over the years I have seen tremendous impact of the Internet, I must say. And though I am in Sweden, I come from Yemen. So I can see the bridge in Turkey as one of the leading countries.
However, in the academic aspect of it, do you see that the liberty of academics and researchers in doing research on sensitive topics on the Internet, such as censorship, is it an obstacle? Do you find that it is much more liberal to pursue that? I personally finished my Ph.D. in censorship circumvention. Luckily I would be in Sweden, because luckily I was in Sweden because I wouldn't be here to talk about it if I was in Yemen. I want to know if the research went to that level.
>> WILLIAM DRAKE: I can't talk about that, but maybe we'll come back to it. David and then the woman here.
>> AUDIENCE: Just a simple question.
>> WILLIAM DRAKE: Say who you are?
>> AUDIENCE: David Case, probably speaking as a student from the Kern University here. I just wanted a question about the disciplinarity of Internet Governance which is to say clearly war and international relations scholarship is heavily represented on the panel and generally. And a few other disciplines sort of get a look in here. There's a sprinkling of sociologists and economists. Which disciplines do you think are not sort of present enough and would we really benefit from having more of involved? And not just independently but in terms of interdisciplinarity. It would be helpful to get, maybe pick some method logical tips from, so on.
>> WILLIAM DRAKE: Great. Finally the woman here and we'll come back to the panel and see if they have thoughts in response.
>> AUDIENCE: I am from India. I'm working with an organisation called Digital Empowerment Foundation.
>> WILLIAM DRAKE: Your name?
>> AUDIENCE: Ritu Srivastava. There are many research topics which have been on the Internet Governance, also covered by organisations using a number of research on their own primary research areas.
What is your concept, what is your idea to integrate all those research areas as well as research? For example we have research on access in India. What is the access of the wireless respect in India? What do you think when you integrate such kind of research in some global international level Forums? What is your statement on that?
>> WILLIAM DRAKE: So I understand exactly, you want to know about the status of research on access at the global level?
>> AUDIENCE: Exactly. And there are a number of research happening in Developing Countries, in Least Developed Nations. How do you incorporate that research into the platform such as GigaNet?
>> WILLIAM DRAKE: I see. Thank you very much.
We have a number of very interesting questions on the table here. We had the, started with the Russian colleague talking about the difficulties of getting scholars and students to understand the nature of Internet governance given the interdisciplinarity of it, so on, pulling together programmes. We had Kamilia from Indonesia talking about sites being blocked and asking about young people, support for young people involved in the field and whether anything is planned, intended in that manner.
Amir asked about frameworks, analytical frameworks, if there are some overarching analytical frameworks that animate Internet Governance work.
Carlos wanted to know about market failures and other examples where Internet Governance may fame and whether people are doing interesting work on what happens when governance fails.
The Turkish colleague, Bedii, I think, said it's very important to do governance, talking about governance, the role of governments and how people perceive the U.S. dominance of ICANN as being Internet Governance. Walid raised the question of doing sensitive research, particularly in nondemocratic settings, I suppose. Is that an obstacle to the development of the field?
David asked about disciplinarity and what disciplines are not represented as much as international scholarship, so on. Finally our, our colleague from India, asked a number of interesting points.
We will go down the table and ask which ones you guys want to pick up on. Maybe I will also ‑‑ I'll give you a second to think about that. And Ellie, I will put you on the spot. Since we have a leading economist, long time scholar of telecommunications and the Internet who wandered in here unprepared and Carlos directed a question towards him. Would you be interested in responding to Carlos' inquiry? He thought you might have some ideas. You want to think about it? You think about it, okay, fine.
We will start with Urs and come down the table.
>> URS GASSER: Okay. That's a long list of questions. I would like to start just quickly with a response to our colleague from Indonesia. So as far as this network of centers approach is concerned, we are taking the institutional approach which actually ties back to the question of operating in hostile environments. So to work with institutions, research centers as opposed to individual researchers has a number of advantages, including that you have some protection by the institution, especially when doing sensitive research.
That being said, we also invite young people to our events. We usually typically have a young scholars Forum. I'm sure Jeannette can talk more about that. We have that within our network but also associated to individual centers such as the Berlin center and the Berkman Center. We are we are very welcoming to young individuals we have affiliates around the world. I'm happy to chat offline more.
On the question about integration, to go back to India, sorry, I didn't get your name, about integrating research that you have done, for instance, on access. We are currently building at the Berkman Center a platform called Internet Monitor. The hope is that this platform actually is offering an interoperable platform to all researchers who want to share data with the global community, acknowledging that we have a data problem. Much of the data in Internet research is actually owned by private entities, by corporations, and not easily accessible and available to the public.
So our hope very much is that we can work together with the global community to populate this platform. We have already quite some data sets in there looking at access, control, and activity on the Internet. So I encourage you to check it out. The website is thenetmonitor.org. You can also Google "Internet monitor." I can respond to the others.
>> WILLIAM DRAKE: Marilia?
>> MARILIA MACIEL: I'll try to connect a few of them. The first is a question about young people and how to involve them. From what I have seen in international relations programmes, the interest to develop research in this area has grown exponentially. But mostly people who are starting to do research in the field. One thing that we can do other than have initiatives such as this one to welcome and embrace them and involve them in the community is connected to the second question, Amir related to frameworks and concepts, which is to try not to impose reestablished frameworks, because it is easy to do so.
I learned when I started the Ph.D., I was writing a paper about Internet Governance. I thought what is going to please my advisers, what is something I could use to communicate? That's why I focused on the regime theory. After I finished my presentation, they told me this is not going to help you. I'm sorry, but throw the regime theory away and interdependence. It doesn't apply to the field. You have to go to other areas connected to what David has asked. I'm in international relations, but what they are telling me is go to sociology. Try to develop a net graphic study. Many of the organisations you are talking about, we have a very broad idea, but we have no idea how they work. It will be really interesting to go to the field and document how these organisations work and even when we are dealing with Internet governance, I think there is a lot that we hear about. Unfortunately I have never bean to an EITF being meeting. It is on my to do list. It is important to be there and understand how it works.
There is a lot to be done. These other disciplines, sometimes they just bring a different air and way to understand the field sometimes, just applying the concepts and the knowledge of where you are located won't help you. This can help us move forward.
I think that's it.
>> WILLIAM DRAKE: Okay.
>> LEYLA KESER: I want to say something about academic freedom, if there is freedom in the academic world or not.
>> WILLIAM DRAKE: You are answering Walid's question, right?
>> LEYLA KESER: Exactly. I can say yes. Just because I'm from Istanbul university and I attended IGF and at the same university we organise with another colleague of mine at the university. They organised Internet Governance Forum at Istanbul University. There is the freedom.
Just because they don't believe or they argue there is no Internet Governance in Turkey, we have kind of problems we have to discuss. But except this building at the university campus there is freedom. We are working at the same university and they criticize the applications or the situations in Turkey. They can write academic papers or books on censorship or Internet restrictions, et cetera.
I can also criticize the government, but I prefer to work with them and show them the right way which they follow. And I like to show them the solutions. And I try to change something at the government end, at the parliament in terms of regulations, et cetera. That is the freedom, I believe we have. And regarding your question, allowing the participation of young people to our activities or research activities on Internet Governance or multi‑stakeholder Internet Governance. I want to request my students here in this room, particularly Bedii and the youngest colleague of him, they can say something about this. Please.
>> WILLIAM DRAKE: Where is the mic? Just to say it is now 4:00 o'clock. We should wrap up in about five minutes.
>> AUDIENCE: Very quickly. Leyla was my teacher in undergraduate and I'm working together with her now and Ramazan is my assistant. We are following the path. The age average in our university, in our team is low. We are trying to be as dynamic as we can. And their approach in that regard. I would like to thank Leyla for being so open to us. And I think that we shouldn't lose the connection with the youth because they know better than us. They can use the