Alright, after 10 long days we have reached the end. And, like in a Letterman Top 10, this last one will be the lamest. Thankfully, though, I’m not Letterman, so while this one (hehe, get it? #1 sigh) won’t be in any way funny or satirical (well, maybe a little bit, but not wholly intentionally), it will be poignant and, more importantly for me, realistic.
Spoiler Alert: there be a rant ahead. For those who prefer the illustrated version, skip below to the stars.
In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that this last one is less a silly suggestion to lampoon the comical wastes of money and time that the G20 brought to Toronto, and is actually more of a legitimate supplication for those who organize these – and other – conferences to smarten up.
Sure, I’ll admit, I’m a self-proclaimed internet nerd. But that doesn’t mean the internet just “doesn’t work” for everyone else. You can do wonderful, great (and sometimes evil!) things in, with, through, and around the internet (occasionally even on top of it, but sometimes it doesn’t like that position all that much and gets antsy). It takes less than 0.20 seconds for google to do a search for “web conferences” and you find the wikipedia article on the growing medium. A few more milliseconds and you come up with a number of interesting websites with different iterations of the emerging technology behind multi-user conferencing over the internet. Here are a few – http://www.ivisit.com/ http://www.megameeting.com/privatebranding.html http://www.conferencegroup.com/video-conference.html
Current technology and average ISP bandwidth capabilities (as far as my less-than-5-minute-total-search found) seem to put the magic number at around 16-18 users with a medium-priced package. That’s certainly more than enough to host the G8. Then of course come the obvious questions about “what you miss out because of the lack of face-to-face interaction.” This is when I point out that these 16-18 simultaneous user programs allow limitless audience members to watch and – through chat programs and email and all sorts of social media – PARTICIPATE. Gone would be many of the “lack of transparency” concerns as the power of the internet allows a near-Athenian level of direct democracy (once you filter out the retards; more on that later).
That’s not even touching on the fact that it is not only socially-unacceptable but also physically impossible for every single person to talk at once and still be heard, even in a conference room in the same country. You don’t need to give all G20 members “speaking power” (ie. a video throne) at all times and at the same time – there are ways to coordinate these sorts of things (speaking lists and camera toggles, for example) so that at the very least the person who is currently talking is visible. Of course, this is with current, publicly-accessible technology we’re talking about. Surely the LEADERS OF THE WEALTHIEST COUNTRIES could pay for – if not just INVENT – a system that can accommodate video for another 2-4 people to sit simultaneously.
“But Ricardo,” you say, “where will I get my precious photo-ops and fancy state dinners paid by the host country?” Look, if you’ve been looking at this blog at all, you’ll know the beauty of Photoshop. If you’re dying for a picture with Obama, all you have to do is what this guy clearly did. Is KILLING THE ENVIRONMENT with annual decidedly unproductive meetings and WASTING BILLION(S) OF DOLLARS in the process really worth getting a picture with someone? REALLY? As for dinner, order out. If it’s the solidarity of “sharing a meal” that you hunger (ahem) for, then just order the same thing – how about a Matsu Combo Three? It frightens me that someone would even consider the prospect of eating food with another person to be “worth” the burden it places on the environment and the people these people lead.
Speaking of the environment, this annual environmental conference business should be the first to jump ship off these international conventions. The answer to all those little side-shows that they have during the conference is called a “webinar,” and having sat through one myself recently, I have to say they are quite handy and effective. So long as proper etiquette (one person talks at a time, questions are ordered by preference of who asked first, etc., all of which can be controlled easily via IRC or other services like ustream) is expected and followed, I honestly don’t see what is lost by transposing an on-location conference to the internet. This seems especially pertinent in the field of environmental policy, since the irony of thousands of people (mostly reporters) travelling the world to have an indoor meeting about saving the environment seems like it should be the first thing to go by means of adapting to new technology.
And that’s really what it boils down to: I am reasonably certain that no matter what other complaint someone will throw about making this change, I can explain it away with a computer program they haven’t considered or an unwillingness to learn to adapt and change something based – apparently – solely on the notion of tradition. Let the Founding Fathers have their trip to Charlottetown; Stephen Harper doesn’t need to leave his fancy house in Ottawa to have a meeting with Obama anymore – especially if the meeting is going to be as relatively unproductive as the last couple of climate conferences and the G8/G20. If nothing concrete is going to be decided or hammered out, you might as well stay home.
For those who have stuck out this far, thanks a lot, you’re awesome!! For the ADD crowd (and their hyper-active cousins!), it’s dangerous to go alone, take these pretty pictures!
Who better to host/moderate the G8 than Pauly Shore?
Apart from being a joke, this could be a reality. The internet has gained lots of credibility in the recent past, and having a glorified meeting of the minds between world leaders (maybe more inclusive?) happen through this awesome medium would go far towards validating it as a forum for thought and expression. Hell, these guys could’ve done more work, and saved us all much stress/money if they’d just Google Waved the whole thing. I would’ve reinvested all that money saved from Waving the conference into carbon credits to pay back for 35 years of 20th century conferences.
And, more importantly, rather than this beautiful display of free expression as a form of opening windows of communication :
Civilized conversation ftw!
you can have the brilliant, just-as-enlightening conversations seen in the chat box in the previous image. Instead of wielding ridiculous sound cannons and rubber bullets, the cops would only be in charge of bringing down the banhammer. Hard. You know the youtube commenters are begging for it.
Laying down the law, one Youtube comment at a time.
And with that, this ordeal is over. See you all next Friday when – BANHAMMER WILLING – weekly updates resume again.