Thousands of groups meet online or by tele-conference daily, saving not only time and Euros but carbon footprint impact as well. However, my experience shows that public entities often have more difficulty in organising effective remote communication. This is particularly true for large meetings.
The UN generally offers excellent access to webcast, audio, video or both, as do other organisations and bodies. This offers remote access, which, when combined with captioning, includes some of those with disabilities, as well as those who are not present. However, this is not remote participation. This is remote access: remote observation.
In my mind, to qualify as remote participation, there must be channels of communication from remote 'participants'. It must be possible for remote attendees to have input and feedback into the meetings, similar to the opportunities offered to those in physical attendance.
The recent Pan-European Dialogue on Internet Governance, EuroDIG 2010 made great strides towards this goal, following the example of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) Secretariat policy for planning meetings and IGFs. We look forward to continuing improvement and example of best practices in real remote participation from the IGF process.
What has worked for you? What has not worked? After a frustrating experience, did you work with organizers to ensure a better experience at the next meeting? How can we do this?
Check out the IGF Remote Participation Working Group for ideas on remote participation and remote hubs. Let's DO it!