Last night on a whim, I went online and bought the domain names wsisblogs.org and wsisblogs.com.
As many of you know, we're less than a year away from the 2005 World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). Organized by the United Nations and the ITU, WSIS will try to wrap up the work of the first WSIS summit in December 2003. During that summit in Geneva, world leaders gathered to tackle bridging the digital divide, Internet governance, online freedom and other important issues. There was a small contingent of bloggers in Geneva, including myself and the amazing folks at DailySummit.net.
Undoubtedly there will be many more at the next summit, including delegates, professional journalists, civic journalists and others. Additionally, there will be two major planning meetings, or prepcoms, between now and then; these meetings are the places where the bulk of the summit's policy outcomes will probably be decided. Should we expect much of media presence? Precedence suggests otherwise. At the last prepcom meeting in Tunisia last June, I was one of three or four bloggers present, all of whom represented civil society; there was practically no mainstream media present, nor any noticeable media coverage after the fact.
Just 10 days ago, Rebecca MacKinnon lamented in her blog on the lack of mainstream media coverage regarding Internet governance, which was discussed at a recent ICANN meeting in Capetown. The event was covered by numerous bloggers, she noted, “But no meaningful mainstream media coverage so far. Maybe it's not as easy to understand or as exciting as the FCC, but isn't it just as important (if not more so) for our global communication future?”
So all of this got me wondering about WSIS, the upcoming prepcoms and other WSIS thematic meetings, and the dearth of quality media coverage. From my perspective, it's incumbent upon civil society — including civic bloggers — to embrace a bigger leadership role in publicizing the policy outcomes that are currently at stake, and mobilize the online public to take interest in the issue.
With all of this swirling through my head last night, I purchased the domain names WSISblogs.org and WSISblogs.com. I haven't thought through what should be done with it, but I can envision something like Dave Winer's ConventionBloggers.com, which aggregated all the bloggers covering the Democratic and Republican National Conventions this past summer. In other words, a site where you could find all the latest posts from all the bloggers participating and/or observing the WSIS process. The site could be organized by major policy outcomes and related WSIS topics, so users could explore the latest blogs on Internet governance, the digital divide, protest activities, human rights issues, etc, as they occur. It would also be great to allow bloggers to add their RSS feeds to the site, since it's not always possible to get an authoritative list of who'll be blogging prior to WSIS-related events.
Even if we do nothing, chances are there will be bloggers galore at WSIS: dozens of bloggers, blogging on a variety of issues, in a variety of styles and languages, giving the public unfettered, unfiltered access to the WSIS process. Imagine if we could organize them all in one place.
Anyway, it's just an idea. Would love to hear what others think. -andy