Re: Concerns about Singapore

Yoav Nir <ynir.ietf@gmail.com> Mon, 11 April 2016 12:17 UTC

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Subject: Re: Concerns about Singapore
From: Yoav Nir <ynir.ietf@gmail.com>
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Date: Mon, 11 Apr 2016 15:17:39 +0300
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To: Rich Kulawiec <rsk@gsp.org>
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> On 11 Apr 2016, at 1:45 PM, Rich Kulawiec <rsk@gsp.org> wrote:
> 
> On Mon, Apr 11, 2016 at 08:05:19AM +0000, Andrew Allen wrote:
>> We could be left with the only possible venue being a cruise ship
>> sailing in international waters - [snip]
> 
> There is another alternative -- one I've raised repeatedly.
> 
> Don't have physical meetings.  Then this entire problem space simply
> vanishes, along with the need for a discusion thread that's now over a
> hundred messages.  (And it's not the first one.)  YES, it's replaced by a
> different problem space, which roughly works out to "how can everything
> be done virtually?"  but given that this is the *Internet* engineering
> task force I have no doubt that the collective expertise is more than
> capable of dealing with that.  

I don’t believe that this technology exists. People have been singing the praise of Meetecho in IETF 95, and yet remote participation is nothing like being in the room. And the “virtual interim” meetings are nothing like physical meetings. There is a reason why airlines make great money from business travel and don’t shut down for the winter.

> Particularly if all the discussion, effort,
> and expense going into the logistics of physical meetings is redirected
> into virtual ones instead.

Yeah, perhaps, some day when we’re all wearing virtual reality headsets and our avatars are hanging out in a virtual venue, and we all have sufficient equipment and bandwidth to handle all that. We’re not there yet.

> I really can't take any of the platitudes about "inclusion" seriously
> until that happens -- because as long as the IETF persists with physical
> meetings, most people *will* be excluded due to cost, distance, time,
> legal climate, personal safety, etc.  The IETF is, even if accidentally,
> selecting for the elite few who are fortunate enough to be attend.

Virtual meetings with the technology we have today makes it very hard for people with mediocre English to follow the discussion. The “I don’t quite follow what you’re saying” look does not translate well to the kind of video we can use today. That extends even to people with relatively good English (for non-native speakers) like me. 

Yoav