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Anchoring the spoken word: How verbatim reporting is changing the face of Internet diplomacy

Published on 22 October 2012
Updated on 05 April 2024

Which nation/region has been the most talkative at the Internet Governance Forum? What level of politeness  is reached in speeches delivered by diplomats, engineers and other professional communities? When it comes to Internet politics, who has more to say: women or men? What are the geo-emotions of the different regions involved in Internet governance?

These and other questions have been addressed by a pilot research project: The Emerging Language of Internet Diplomacy. The project analyses a unique data-collection of transcripts from the six sessions (2006–2011) of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). All transcripts are organised according to a set of criteria including origin of presenter, gender, stakeholder participation, type of statement.

Anchoring the spoken word: How verbatim reporting is changing the face of Internet diplomacyVerbatim reporting on the left screen and speaker on the right screen in the conference hall of the Internet Governance Forum 2010.

Photo by: Franck K




This research is made possible by verbatim reporting, a unique innovation in international meetings pioneered by ICANN (Internet Company of Assigned Names and Numbers). In the UN space, it was introduced in IGF and ITU (International Telecommunication Union) meetings as well. Verbatim reporting of international meetings may challenge the old Latin saying verba volant, scripta manent (spoken words fly away, written words remain). Everything that is said in the meetings is transcribed and saved in the text. Verbatim reporting increases the transparency of international policy-making and poses new challenges for diplomacy. Knowing that the text will be saved for posterity has influenced how speakers shape their interventions and statements.

The research project identifies the underlying patterns used to frame the Internet political debate. It should help in reducing policy noise and creating a more informed Internet diplomacy.

Over the next few weeks, and at the IGF in Baku, Diplo will present the first findings from this pilot research. We will also initiate a research consortium aimed at conducting a more in-depth research on language and Internet diplomacy.

You can find more information at https://www.diplomacy.edu/IGFlanguage. If you would like to join the initiative or receive updates you can write to IGFLanguage@diplomacy.edu


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