By Sorina Teleanu, Chair of the SEEDIG Executive Committee
This year, the 6th South Eastern European Dialogue on Internet Governance (SEEDIG) on 21-25 September 2020 – the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) regional initiative for South Eastern Europe and the neighbouring area – was supposed to hold its sixth annual meeting in Moldova, and the community was looking forward to visiting the famous Moldovan wineries after day-long debates on the region’s digital policy realities and challenges. But it wasn’t meant to be; like most meetings planned for this year, SEEDIG 6 was eventually moved online, and since that decision, we’ve been going through quite an exciting journey which will culminate this week in an innovative and interactive online meeting.
When we started planning SEEDIG 6 as an online event, we knew one thing: as many of us were already tired of online meetings, we needed to experiment with something new. And so we did, with the amazing support of Diplo’s ConfTech Lab, and by focusing on conceptual, creative, and technical aspects.
The core concept
SEEDIG annual meetings are about dialogue, sharing experiences, and co-operation; and so is SEEDIG 6. But an online meeting is challenging by default, as attention spans tend to be reduced and people are easier to be distracted. So how do we reconcile the two? By having shorter sessions (between 45 and 60 minutes each) and placing interactivity at their core. Speeches are off limits, contributors are there to set the scene without monopolising the discussions, and using engaging visualisations and digital tools is part of the game.
Within this setting, SEEDIG 6 will feature nine main sessions on very specific issues, such as the connections between digitisation and depopulation in Southeastern Europe and its neighbouring countries (SEE+), the security of critical infrastructures, digital economy challenges in the region, and many more.
What else can we offer participants to convince them that attending SEEDIG 6 is worth their time? This question has been on our mind all along the planning process, and the online format has offered us plenty of space to innovate. The result is a series of creative tracks which, again, put emphasis on interactivity and engagement.
- SEEDIG’s online Living Library will feature small groups, focused discussions with key organisations such as the Council of Europe, the Internet Society, and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). (Think of them as ‘books’ ready to share their insights on Internet/digital policy.)
- The Terms of Service (ToS) Fantasy Reader is a not-to-miss opportunity to finally read the ToS of the mobile apps we’re all using. The most confusing, absurd, illogical, and abstract segments will make it into a radio play.
- The series of SEEtalks will include live and interactive interviews with regional and global experts on digital tech and policy topics such as elections security, the future of work, digital co-operation, and digital health.
- The SEEinnovate track is about showcasing the innovative potential of the region and exploring digital solutions for social good and sustainable development.
- The Art, VR & digital policy track will feature a virtual guided tour through art exhibitions, followed by a discussion on the policy challenges that emerge when art meets technology.
And, of course, there will also be social events for networking and fun: a Moldovan Wine Evening and a Music Night. We’ll not visit the Moldovan wineries in person, but we’ll still have fun with a virtual tour and do some (real-life) wine tasting.
Also part of the creative side of SEEDIG 6 are our engaging visual materials, ranging from web banners, GIFs, and videos (showcasing the focus of the main sessions and creative tracks), to infographics and stats to be used during the discussions.
Relying on Diplo’s ConfTech Lab’s extensive experience in running online events, SEEDIG 6 will be open for participants to join via:
- the Zoom platform (where we have set up distinct halls for the main sessions, creative tracks, and social events); and
- live streams on YouTube and Facebook Live.
Zoom should be the first choice for those who want to actively participate in the debates, but we will also have social media moderators who will make sure that comments and questions shared via YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter will be fed into the discussions.
The main goal behind SEEDIG 6 is to offer different types of settings for participants to discuss tech and digital policy issues of interest, engage with experts, network, and have fun. And if this all sounds too much, it actually isn’t. The main sessions, creative tracks, and social events are spread across the week, with time in between, and anyone can tune in at any moment. All you have to do is register!
Join us at SEEDIG 6 to experience the future of (online) meetings.
This article was originally published on DiploFoundation’s website.