Feeds

196 nations open three week (!) telecoms congress

Quadrennial quagmire or efficient conclave?

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

ITU The International Telecommunication Union is a walking contradiction, where tedious 19th century ceremony exists side-by-side with snappy 21st century efficiency.

I'm here in Guadalajara, Mexico at the ITU's Plenipotentiary — a meeting that this United Nations' agency for information and communication technology holds every four years to decide its strategic direction.

Here's what you need to know about the "Plenipot" first off: it goes on for three weeks. Yes, three weeks. It used to be four. The first week is taken up entirely with electing new officials; the second week is used to spread out and discuss the papers that have been provided to the conference; and the third is about refining the details and getting them approved.

If this sounds like an arcane way of doing things in the modern world, it's because it is.

ITU logo

Yes, the ITU's logo is dated and arcane, as well

The clue is in the title: Plenipotentiary comes from the Latin plenus and potens, meaning full and power. Government representatives (and no one else, mind you) are given full powers to negotiate on their country's behalf, and at the end what is decided has full power over the countries represented — more or less.

Of course, this approach was much more useful in 1865 when the ITU was created. It wasn't until 1903 that the Wright brothers flew for the first time. Henry Ford started producing cars in 1908. John Logie Baird's first public experiments with television were in 1926. In those worlds, representatives would take days to reach a meeting, and news of what they discussed and decided would take just as long to reach their sponsor countries. Representatives had to be given full power in order to be of any use.

But the Plenipot's name, and the fact it goes on for three weeks, is just scratching the surface of ITU arcanery. The election process is, by all accounts, so bizarrely out of step with the 21st century that it takes on an almost surreal air.

One day is taken up with the election of Secretary General (SG) and Deputy Secretary General. The next day with the election of the three bureau chiefs (which actually stretched into a second day this time around). How can it take a whole day to choose two people with less than 200 voters? Strap yourself in, you're about to find out.

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Next page: Election madness

More from The Register

next story
Trying to sell your house? It'd better have KILLER mobile coverage
More NB than transport links to next-gen buyers - study
iWallet: No BONKING PLEASE, we're Apple
BLE-ding iPhones, not NFC bonkers, will drive trend - marketeers
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Scotland's BIG question: Will independence cost me my broadband?
They can take our lives, but they'll never take our SPECTRUM
NBN Co adds apartments to FTTP rollout
Commercial trial locations to go live in September
Samsung Z Tizen OS mobe is post-phoned – this time for good?
Russian launch for Sammy's non-droid knocked back
Speak your brains on SIGNAL-FREE mobile comms
Readers chat to the pair who flog the tech
prev story

Whitepapers

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?