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The best of e-participation is …

Published on 05 June 2013
Updated on 05 April 2024

E-participation is a buzzword right now, on everybody’s mind and agenda, it seems. Those who know me will not be surprised to read the following statement: Remote participation embodies the best of e-participation, and when remote participation is not included, e-participation is not living up to our expectations.

Most e-participation is remote participation. Whether you are attending a meeting halfway around the world, filing your tax returns, or researching what resources are available on a specific topic, you are participating remotely in your community (local, regional or global). Some of these activities can be done in person, sometimes they can be done better in person. Some are much more easily done remotely (and if you factor in the cost of travel time, gasoline and parking, almost any meeting is less expensive if attended remotely).

And the best of remote participation is …

Fortunately, remote participation is being incorporated into most meetings nowadays, and being institutionalised by many international and intergovernmental bodies. So, of course, the next step is to incorporate the best of e- and in situ participation in remote hubs. Remote hubs are meetings held in parallel to a larger global meeting, such as the yearly Internet Governance Forum (IGF). Interested participants in an organisation, or other proximity, plan to meet at a university or other facility, to watch the meeting webcast, participate in online chat discussions, intervene using the provided platform (the IGF currently uses WebEx), and make presentations on panels and in plenary sessions.

If you are not familiar with remote hubs, think of going to a local community center or sports bar to watch an important soccer game. You don’t have to miss work and family obligations. You only take the time you want. You join a group of enthusiasts who share your passion, even if they are cheering for another team. The biggest difference is that you will watch the soccer game, and you will participate in local discussions, but you will not take part in the physical game.

In well-organised meetings, remote participants are precisely that: remote participants, not remote observers. This meant that last year, for the IGF 2012 in Baku, 52 remote hubs (from every continent except the Antarctic) registered to participate in the meeting, with the added advantage of including a local/regional aspect to make glocalisation a reality, instead of just a nice theoretical concept.They (and individual remote participants) were able to take advantage of the Internet at its best.

What are your experiences with remote participation and remote hubs at policy meetings? Please tell us here, so we can discuss in the comments (yes, remote participation), or (and) join us for the E-participation Day discussions on June 19th. I look forward to your participation.


2 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    I have attended some of the
    I have attended some of the IGF sessions in Baku last year as a remote participant, and I have as well been constantly following Diplo’s monthly webinars. It surely could have been much more productive if I would have been there physically (the change in time is a problem in itself as well sometimes), but still even when I’m not an active remote participant I am learning new things by being part of an event remotely. Personally I value e-participation a lot, and judge my remote participation experience to be truly great.

    • Ginger Paque
      Ginger Paque says:

      Thanks for your comment-
      Thanks for your comment–there is no doubt that ‘virtual jet lag’ can be a problem, especially if you are attending meetings in GMT+3 and your family is living in GMT-5. When we attend meetings physically, we tend to focus completely on immersion in that event. When we attend remotely, we are often juggling ‘normal’ professional and personal lives as well. Controlling our local/remote environment is another topic we should be discussing to improve the quality of remote participation! I hope you attend the e-participation event on 19 June https://www.diplomacy.edu/event/e-participation-day-towards-more-open-un and join the discussion. See you there! Ginger

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