Deirdre Williams writes:
For at least the last twenty years I have been aware of people talking about 'paradigms' and 'paradigm shifts'. A paradigm is essentially a pattern, 'A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.' (Source: TheFreeDictionary).
The definition uses the language of seeing – 'a way of viewing' - and this helps the analogy because a pattern can become a different pattern if you look at it in a different way. When it comes to location, the virtual world of the Internet has added a new dimension, changed the paradigm, and we need to change with it, because the old 'way of viewing' no longer works properly.
For example, the Caribbean Internet Governance Forum (CIGF) was ostensibly held in Saint Lucia on 29 and 30 August 2012. But was it? There were remote participants following the webcast from as far away as India and Fiji. There was a panel member who was in South America, and a presenter from somewhere in the United States. And there was a paradoxical situation that wouldn’t have worked in the real world at all.
One of the presenters, Virginia (Ginger) Paque from Diplo, was in Wisconsin in the United States. She had sent a PowerPoint display and was due to make the presentation from Wisconsin. At the last moment there was a technical glitch, and so I, who was 'there' in the room, made the presentation on her behalf. Afterwards Ginger made comments and asked questions.
The paradox? Where was the presentation? Where, in fact, was the meeting? Should we continue to think about 'remote participation' as extra and exotic or should we think of it as the standard, with those people who are physically present in the same space having the additional advantage of direct face to face interaction with others present in that space?
Deirdre Williams has lived in Saint Lucia in the Eastern Caribbean for most of her adult life. Since the early 1990s she has been exploring the possibilities offered by the Internet to solve some of the problems faced by small island states. This has led more recently to an interest in Internet governance, particularly where this has an impact on the ordinary end-user.
Get in touch with Deirdre through Diplo's IG community.