Report on the Virtual Summit
In advance of the WSIS meetings in Tunis, organizers actively promoted the idea (even among journalists) that it wasn't really necessary to travel to Tunisia to observe and participate in the Summit. In a bold embrace of Internet technology, the organizers promised ongoing coverage from the WSIS Web site, including streaming media feeds of all the sessions.
Given that I had one heck of a scheduling conflict, I took them up on their proposal to watch the Summit from afar. Was it actually possible to "be there" virtually, even though I had to be 9 hours away in California?
Well … in a word, yes.
Not only did the WSIS site offer live coverage of the Summit, it also offered live feeds of the resumed PrepCom-3 sessions on Internet governance. These feeds, along with draft texts and final documents being used by the delegates on the meeting floor (all free for the taking at the WSIS Web site), became the primary elements to the story I have filed here.
There were some technical problems with the media feeds as they traveled continents and oceans to arrive on my desktop in San Jose, Calif., where I was attending Information Today, Inc.'s Streaming Media and KMWorld conferences. But at 1 a.m. Pacific Time last Wednesday, there were no glitches as the opening sessions kicked off and streamed across my laptop screen.
Having followed this story for so long and having witnessed (albeit virtually) how it all came suddenly together as the deadline loomed, I was moved. As the delegates filled the hall in Tunis, I could not help but feel that I was watching something very important happening.
Quite frankly, my seat in California for the Tunis Summit was better than the seat my press pass got me 2 years ago for the WSIS first-phase Summit in Geneva.
But you needn't take my word for how well the media-enriched virtual Summit performed. ITU and the U.N. Webcast Services have archived everything at the WSIS Web site. See selected links below.