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HOPE X: Pre-Conference Thoughts

Previous conference reports here have been posted mainly after the event has occurred, hence the name report. However, as anyone taking part in many conferences know, the preparation done before is as important, if not more than the break down of the events later on. To this background, it's here tried to pre-report of the conference HOPE X, which will hopefully serve as a preparatory effort to browse through and analyse the agenda as it is today to enable the smooth participation to the relevant talks and sessions. This preparatory work also supports nicely any off-agenda sessions that usually occur around the lobbies and hallways around the conference venue and the city where participants lodge.

The decision to participate this conference originates from another conference attended in DC some time ago when meeting one of the other participants on the shuttle service to the venue on the first day of the event. This highlights the fact that one rarely should visit one conference more than a couple of times, so instead to get stuck there, always and every day look for any other events, occasions and gatherings which one could contribute to and from which one could gain some insight to professional matters, and not to mention on what more one can deliver and bring about to other peers from the conference. This only reminds me of from some recent Internet governance conference in London, where some participants displayed specific pride on how many of those events they themselves did participate before. By all respect, one should maybe advice them on how to not to get stuck?

This conference will take place in a seemingly old hotel, which according to some was on the waitlist to be demolished, but still standing and serving the customers. Tripadvisor users report it to be rather average or terrible than excellent or even very good. However the reporters here were not for the conference, so this venue might very well suit the needs fo the conference and its participants. However, this raises again the question whether one should stay overnight at the venue, as some of the conference events occur during late hours and for the sake of the networking the immediate location of the lodging does serve its purpose. This time decided to stay elsewhere, though.

Again to further develop the conference experience and level of participation, I decided this time to enrol to the volunteers to help out the practicalities whatever occur. Sincerely encourage anyone to take the responsibility and effort to participate actively at any conference, rather than listen passively, since that is the very essence of any conference. Helping out to wire the microphones is as important as the good insight someone delivers through it when on the air.

The conference has its special feature this time to host the remote keynote, or rather as they call it “conversation”, with world-famous Mr Snowden. One can only fall back to the name of the conference itself and hope that the event will take place and overcome any obstacles that might appear. While not taking stances here on either side, it still is important to let the people talk and provide support and encouragement to those who are forced to remain silent. While not known at this stage whether or not the audience will have an opportunity to raise any questions if it would, as it should, each participant should prepare and ponder any and good questions to be conducted in this particular and any other sessions. After all, quite often its actually not about answers but about what the question itself is.

When one reads the schedule of the conference, one should maybe note that the question of the surveillance and privacy is rather political, or used as a mean in the process, rather than just as it is, as a fact. On some level, there are divisions between localist and globalist notions, who might need some collaboration and dialogue to face themselves. Some of the talk abstracts seem to fall back to what Ulrich Beck defines as methodological nationalism, in their aim to get legacy governments to behave properly and provide privacy legislature for their citizens. However, these notions seem to be missing the point in the transformation of the power during these post-national times towards diverse and complex global entities, where there might not be “going back” in time. Again what is important is to develop insights and methods to dissolve the contemporary phenomena of “cyber paranoia”.

Looking forward to the conference and that people and various institutions around find it valuable experience too. If you are interested, or even attending the same, do not hesitate to contact!


Kristo Helasvuo, Guest Author.


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