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Q3: Geographic and language Diversity for ISOC

Do you think that geographic and language diversity on the board is important for ISOC? How would you recommend implementation at the board level, at the staff level and as a global organization?

This entry was posted by the ISOC Elections Committee on Friday, March 5th, 2010 at 10:29 am. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 or Atom 1.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

9 Responses to “Q3: Geographic and language Diversity for ISOC”

  1. Comment by: Eva Frolich   
    March 9th, 2010 at 8:50 am

    Yes, geographic and language diversity is important!

    The mission of ISOC is:
    “The mission of the Internet Society is to promote the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet for the benefit of all people throughout the world.”

    If ISOC should be able to fulfill it´s mission, ISOC need to gather information from all corners of the globe to understand what will benefit people globally.

    There are several ways to gather that information, but diversity amongst Board, Trustees and staff is one of the ways.

    Exchange of information with the chapters is another way of information gathering.

  2. Comment by: Eduardo Diaz   
    March 12th, 2010 at 4:16 am

    [ES] Language and geographic diversity is a must at all levels for ISOC is a global organization. The board should be balanced by requiring representatives from different regions of the world (but not forgetting perspective diversity). To facilitate the process, we should actively identify and canvass/recruit potential candidates with diversity as a goal.

    At the staff level, bilingualism must be one of the minimum requirements, with recruitment focus on language and geographical diversity.

    As a global organization, ISOC should actively seek and facilitate participation of chapters worldwide.


    [ES] El idioma y la diversidad geográfica es una necesidad a todos los niveles de ISOC ya que es una organización global. La Junta debe ser equilibrada requiriendo representantes de diferentes regiones del mundo (sin olvidar la perspectiva de la diversidad). Para facilitar el proceso, se debe identificar y activamente reclutar candidatos potenciales siendo la diversidad uno de los objetivos.

    A nivel de staff, el bilingüismo debe ser uno de los requisitos mínimo, con enfoque en el lenguaje y la diversidad geográfica.

    Como organización global, ISOC debe buscar activamente y facilitar la participación de los capítulos en todo el mundo.

  3. Comment by: Michael Nelson   
    March 12th, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    It goes without saying that a global organization such as the Internet Society must be able to communicate in multiple languages in order to reach a global audience. But language is not the only barrier to communication. It is essential that ISOC staff and board members have an understanding of different cultures in order to work effectively with all the different members of the Internet community.

    Our chapters can provide invaluable assistance in influencing policy and business decisions in their countries–and translating ISOC statements into the local language and the local context. (It is unrealistic to expect ISOC staff and board members alone to be able to translate our messages into every language and cultural context.)

  4. Comment by: Andy Linton   
    March 13th, 2010 at 3:07 am

    With a Board of Trustees with twelve members plus the ISOC CEO its impossible to have a fully representative board in terms of language and geographic diversity. That said I think that the current board does a pretty reasonable job of providing a good mix across the spectrum.

    I think Michael Nelson sums it up well when he talks about an understanding of different cultures being the key.

    One particular area where we might like to focus on is our new membership system. Having it localised in English, French, German and Spanish is a good start but adding support for languages such as Chinese, Japanese, Hindi and Arabic (and many others) would open our doors to a much broader potential membership base. Perhaps this is a task we could engage on with our chapters?

  5. Comment by: narelle clark   
    March 15th, 2010 at 2:13 am

    Geographic and language diversity is ESSENTIAL!!

    In the years I have been involved with ISOC, and especially through ISOC-AU, I have benefited greatly from hearing the views of Chapter representatives and members from across Asia, the Americas, Europe and Africa. We learn so much from hearing about the challenges of getting Internet services into homes, businesses and community faciities in all of these places – there is so much that is different, but so much we have in common!

    Last year ISOC-AU received ISOC funding to share techniques for improving access to the Internet for people with disabilities. Material was developed and presented in Papua New Guinea with attendees from across the Pacific and Asia as well as others. This is a great example of sharing the wealth of information between chapters and other Internet groups. Promoting respectful interaction on the ground is a really important part of ISOC’s work.

    On a personal level, I see respect for a person’s culture as being an essential part of respect for other human beings. In that sense, ISOC needs to maintain its materials in a range of languages, hold events in a range of locations, promote and facilitate attendance from a range of people, and promote the accessible Internet through both the creation of technical standards and by using them itself.

  6. Comment by: Hiroshi Esaki   
    March 16th, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    It would be better, but does not be mandatory.

  7. Comment by: Leonard St-Aubin   
    March 18th, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    If ISOC’s vision “the internet is for everyone” is to be pursued in a meaningful way, then geographic and linguistic diversity on the Board and within the organization are essential. This is especially true given the demographic challenge and the need to effectively communicate core values across many cultures, languages and geographic regions. ISOC’s business plan foresees an aggressive strategy for education, professional development, community building, and fostering participation in technical and policy forums in developing countries and in all continents. Geographic and linguistic diversity are necessary characteristics for ISOC to be perceived at the “go to” organization on Internet development and a source of authoritative, unbiased information.

    As ISOC develops its regional bureaux and Chapters, it should seek out talented and qualified people from those geographic areas, who can feed into the organization in an organic way. The Next Generation Leaders program is another effective way to develop and identify both future board members and staff.

  8. Comment by: Richard Woundy   
    March 26th, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    The board definitely needs to be sensitive to the geographic and language diversity of the global Internet and ISOC membership. As examples, various regions of the world differ in the way they access the Internet (e.g. the use of computers vs wireless devices), in the availability of Internet access to the population, and in the regulation of Internet access, content, and applications. A long-term goal ought to be that people who do not understand English should be able to participate fully in ISOC activities, perhaps by leveraging the (admittedly imperfect) language translation tools evolving on the Internet as well as local chapter resources.

    At the same time, I am concerned about setting up ‘quotas’ for board members, particular for a relatively small number of seats. Perhaps it can be one of the considerations by the nominating committee as they put together a slate of candidates. Note that there are other possible diversity goals such as public vs private sector experience, technical vs management vs public policy experience, gender, etc.

    For diversity within the ISOC staff, it would seem the best approach is through the (current) establishment of regional bureaus and the hiring local leadership into those bureaus. Further ISOC sensitivity and experience in geographic issues can be gained from ‘Engaging Access’ projects in the developing world, particularly with chapter (volunteers) and regional bureau (staff) assistance. Incidentally, this activity also brings in grant funding from outside foundations, which helps diversify ISOC’s funding.

  9. Comment by: Lawrence Lessig   
    April 1st, 2010 at 8:09 am

    Diversity is crucial to the intelligence of any organization. Geographical and linguistic diversity are elements of that. But diversity in experience is crucial as well. The only diversity we should resist is about the importance of the Internet’s values.

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