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Silence the Lambs

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Teenage wisdom

It’s the wrong thing to do, but someone has to say it: the collective wisdom of teenagers – or “youth” as they are being called– don’t amount to squat.

Maybe it’s because I’m not a father; maybe it’s because I am still young enough to understand the latest uses and trends of the Internet; maybe I’m just a grouch; but the strange habit of sticking a 15-year-old at a microphone to mumble useless insights about the Internet just doesn’t cut it.

Yes, it is a nice change from the “old white men” who are also mumbling useless insights about the Internet, but let’s not pretend we’re getting anywhere with this information. And you’re talking to an ex-precocious teen.

If we will want to instill some energy in the IGF – and god knows it needs it – why not remove the stages, tables, huge rooms, tired, over-long meeting formats, and pick up the pace of discussions?

Why is the energy so low?

Talking of which, there is a general sleepiness about this IGF. I can’t quite figure out why, but there is none of the usual energy here in Vilnius and it feels a little, well, dreary.

Compare this to the buzz that was there at the first IGF in Athens. It was total chaos but it was jumping. Rio was also fun. Sharm El-Shiekh had its moments. But so far in Vilnius – and there’s only one day left – it looks and sounds like a bunch of people talking not very interestingly about the not very interesting subjects.

Has the desire to bring people closer together – stopping civil society from yelling at Chinese delegates for example – actually caused us to all become dull?

The most exciting moment at Vilnius happened this lunchtime in the main session when a previously unannounced session appears to talk about the future of the IGF. Suddenly people were in the room, energy was up, people were modulating their voice, the pace was moving along.

And the exciting result? That one UN group is going to create a working group to spend six months talking about how to improve the IGF so it can be given to the UN to discuss in 12 months time. We may see the results in 2012.

Now I’m an Internet governance geek, I really am, I sat through late-night meetings in boiling hot rooms, starving and thirsty just to find out the latest twist, and I loved it. If I can’t get excited, then we really are in trouble. ®

This article originally appeared on kierenmccarthy.com.

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