Summer School 2011: Summing up the weekend

“No government exists in the world of internet.” – This statement that one of the speakers at the opening ceremony of ongoing EuroDIG  seemed unrealistic for the young activists and media professionals that are participating in this year’s New Media Summer School 2011 in Belgrade.

We gathered in Belgrade for 5 days to clash the different levels of understanding of internet governance and combine ideas for the future of our participation in internet governance.

It can be disturbing when you have, and are obliged to have the virtual identity that will “speak” on your behalf, but which you can not really control if you want to. Development of internet society needs, like every changing society needs, its rebels. Rebelion among young people involved in internet governance does not come from weakness, on the contrary. The internet empowers the weak by taking away the power from the government.

Discussions took place between us and officials such as Matthias Trainer, high-level-representative of the Austrian government in internet governance and media issues, and Lee Hibbard, internet governance coordinator at the Council of Europe. So are we forgetting the business and their interests, that are usually not in harmony with public interest? Of course not. Besides, internet is a multi-stakeholder field. One of the speakers in a hot chair on our boat was Marco Pancini from the policy team of Google in Brussels.

How can we ensure that the internet system will work on our good? Well, no one can guarantee. Internet companies learn from their own mistakes by testing their services on progressive internet users. We also have to keep in mind that there is also a possibility of misuse. Google will not narrow their potential market by responding to individual needs.

That leads us to the question of media literacy. In the countries where the internet population has decreased intensively during past five years are facing the huge problem of using internet services on their benefit. Marco Pancini stated that its extremely important to know how to set up your privacy, when opening a blog or email account. We agree. But, who is going to finance the education? And should it be implemented as formal or non-formal education? One is sure, it has to be free from any particular interests.

As the Sunday went on the issues got more tangled. Direct democracy seems closer than ever with the power of the web. Governments have to accept that fact and lean towards transparent democracy. Speaking of transparency, youth is especially interested in transparent internet governance, meaning the regulations concerning freedom of speech, privacy, copyrights and tackling cybercrime.

Concrete speeches at New Media Summer School were made in groups where every group strengthened different aspects of internet governance frameworks. Most of us had creative presentations and changed the role of poets, politicians, gamers. But when you draw the blue line, we are all users. Just like you.

If you’ll excuse us now, we have to rush to EuroDIG at Sava Center to fight with diplomatical means for the role of the YOUTH in the internet governance of the future.

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