Canadians Connected 2011

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On my way back to Ottawa from Canadians Connected 2011: CIRA Symposium and Annual General Meeting last week, I spent some time reflecting on the activities of the day. It was the first time we brought our AGM to Vancouver since 2008, and I’m very happy we did.

Those of us who work in the Internet world sometimes think the Internet is the ultimate tool for communication.

Bold statement – it’s not.

Yes, the Internet is about connections. It’s about connecting people to other, like-minded people. But here’s the important part: it will never take the place of connecting to people face-to-face. That’s why it was so important to hold Canadians Connected 2011 in Vancouver, and that’s why it was so important to hold our first .CA Members’ networking event in Calgary. (By the way, we’re planning our next .CA Members’ event – in Montreal this November – as I write this).

More than 200 people joined us at the Pan Pacific in Vancouver, and another 53 joined us via webcast.

Once again, our keynotes were outstanding. Jonathan Zittrain, considered by many to be the leading authority on the future of the Internet, gave an engaging talk about where the Internet is heading. I was sold when he said “the Internet needs to be open and free from regulatory intervention in order to facilitate the social and economic innovation it has stimulated.” If you read this blog, you will know that I am a staunch defender of the multi-stakeholder model for governing the Internet.

Stewart Butterfield, co-founder of Flickr, also presented the Internet as a tool for unprecedented innovation. He asserted that the Internet has been a biological leap for humanity, more significant than invention of print press. Butterfield ought to know. He is, after all, one of the great innovators in the Internet world.

This was our second AGM where social media played an important role. We had a very active Twitter stream that was projected on a Twitter wall on site. In fact, the #CIRA2011 hashtag was a trending topic in Canada. This is interesting to me because it really is an indicator of how engaged our stakeholders are. They want to be having the important conversations about things like Internet governance, IPv6, DNSSEC, and a myriad of other issues that in the past were relegated to insiders in the Internet world.

AGMs are typically a time of looking back and taking stock of where you’ve been. I find, though, that our AGM has become a time to look forward. Yes, we turn our focus to the activities of the past year, but in CIRA’s case, I think this is more in order to provide a guide as we move forward. CIRA has come a long way in a relatively short period of time. We are a world-class registry, and I believe there are many areas where we punch above our weight. Please take the time read our 2011 Annual Report.

Don’t take my word on it – watch these videos of participants telling us what their favourite part of the day was.

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