Knowing. The future of the Internet and how to reboot it
Expertise and education about Internet Governance for a sustainable digital transition.
Ten years after the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), we are reaching a new cycle of Internet development. Big data crunching and tech companies’ consolidation are driving the economy as well as social changes in learning, labour, leisure, etc. The ‘Internet of Things’ and upcoming technologies promise to reconfigure whole sectors and services of human activity. Yet such important issues as big data management, corporate mergers and overall monetisation of Internet activities have not reached the larger public whose well-being is at stake. In addition, the various stakeholders involved in Internet Governance processes are working at full capacity to keep abreast with these changes. There is a difficulty in recruiting new entrants and summoning new energies as well as reaching out to larger constituencies who have vested interests in the status quo.
We believe it is becoming urgent to renew our commitment to one open and sustainable Internet, to reset the vision that fosters freedom. It is time to foster a critical mass of citizens who are educated in the major issues at stake so that they can act at their efficient level of interaction (local, national, regional…). It is time to mobilise experts to cross-fertilise their knowledge in order to more fully respond to the cross-cutting policy issues in the information society so that it is defined and designed for real agency. It is time to go beyond the “leaks” and the “gates” that shake societies worldwide without making common sense or gelling into an organised public opinion that can negotiate trans-border issues on its terms, with shared public values and critical resources in mind. It is time to ensure that Internet remains for everyone and is re-booted for what it has the potential to do: to empower people by sharing knowledge, facilitating participation and enlarging solidarity.
Our mission is to create a network for networks, to bridge the knowledge gaps between networks of experts and networks of citizens. This network needs to function as an incubator of ideas and as a knowledge broker while being also a facilitator of co-ordinated connection between existing networks. We think that long-term relationships between different partners who co-operate in an environment of mutual understanding and trust is key to the required re-booting of the Internet. This is the strategic way of harnessing collective intelligence and mobilising users so that they address policy-makers and provide input in Internet Governance from the bottom-up.
Harnessing the knowledge and empowering the networks of those who should be included in shaping the information society is of paramount importance. Our objectives therefore concentrate on scaling-up collective intelligence and mobilising stakeholders about Internet governance. They aim at bridging gaps in knowledge, supporting capacity-building initiatives and creating innovative collaborations between experts and citizens from different sectors on issues relevant to them, according to an agenda that they co-create instead of barely responding to opaque agendas from above.
Our 3 "O"s are:
- Optimising learning environments in particular by harnessing 21st century media and information literacies (coding included), to help citizens make informed choices when they manage personal data and when they deal with collective issues related to online learning, culture, consumption and human rights;
- Offering expert sense-making guidance on the responsibilities of Internet stakeholders by constructing tools to assess legal and regulatory governance arrangements and cross-referencing them to human rights and IG principles (openness, interoperability, security, neutrality, access, accessibility, cultural diversity) ;
- Opening individuals and groups to participation in Internet Governance for democracy by fostering full public debates and consultations on issues that relate to their best interests so that the inputs and outcomes are shared and inclusive, via expert and citizen networks.
1. Opening remarks, presenting data on Internet trends which reveal gaps
2. Ice-breaker questions: a.Why does the Internet belong to everyone (collectively)? b.Who is reaping the benefits of the Internet and its governance + what is the upside (accelerated development, increased investment), and what are the risks (topping the sinusoidal wave and slowing or reversing the curve of development)? c.What alternative logic can be applied and what consequences to draw?
3. Know*ing origins, development, unique features and potential leading to open discussion on: a. the need for collaboration and knowledge for digital transformation and evolution, b. what is realistic and achievable collaboration and knowledge creation? c. reality check (validation from the community) – is know*ing a repetition or superfluous, unnecessary, futile or, on the contrary, it is necessary and provides added value?
4. Duration, next steps, support, closing remarks
 See NETmundial Multistakeholder Statement. The document encompasses a set of human rights principles and a set of Internet governance process principles that give inspiration to the work developed by Know*ing. April 12th 2014. Available here