[bestbits] Thanks! (and short observations on the IGF Retreat)

Stuart Hamilton Stuart.Hamilton at ifla.org
Fri Jul 29 03:18:39 EDT 2016

Hi Amelia

I can see your point about IFLA Amelia, but I can assure you that there are many many different points of view across the library community, and across an organisation with members in 150 countries, at varying levels of development with vastly varying levels of resources, there is much competition for ideas to be heard and positions to be taken accordingly, incorporating different worldviews. We even have members from different stakeholder groups – governments, academic/research/technical/, commercial, public, and NGO – fighting to be heard and favoured. I think the responses of my colleagues would be fun to listen to if I put it to them that IFLA is a limited interest organisation, when you consider that we deal with literally every facet of information and data - its organisation, its dissemination, and its preservation, not to mention the skills, education and training that go together with that – for information professionals, and for users. If information is a limited field, with uniform viewpoints on what to do with it I’d say ok, you’re right – but I can’t say that ☺

If I read you correctly, you are saying that it is impossible to subdivide tasks in the MAG in such a way that people wouldn’t feel left out. All I can say to that is wow – that’s really not good. When considering the success of expert organisations, in whatever form, I’m looking for a group that is able to self-organise, work together, recognise shared and individual expertise and allocate resources accordingly. If the MAG is so dysfunctional that it contains people who are unable to play this way then that’s a waste of a lot of talent – conjures up the image of people flying thousands of miles to sit in a room with each other and not get along. Shame! (I’m practising my Donald Trump tweet/paragraph endings ;)

I’m not naive, I realise that there are politics involved in all of this. But reading your email it sounds to me that from the point of view of an effective organisation the MAG is broken. Rip it up and start again? :) What would you do?



From: bestbits-request at lists.bestbits.net [mailto:bestbits-request at lists.bestbits.net] On Behalf Of Wisdom Donkor
Sent: 29 July 2016 00:38
To: amelia.andersdotter at dataskydd.net
Cc: bestbits at lists.bestbits.net
Subject: Re: [bestbits] Thanks! (and short observations on the IGF Retreat)

Agree with Amalia

On Thursday, July 28, 2016, Amelia Andersdotter <amelia.andersdotter at dataskydd.net<mailto:amelia.andersdotter at dataskydd.net>> wrote:
> Dear Stuart,
> After some time on the MAG, and with participating in the IGF and other
> places of conferences and shared experiences, the MAG functions the way
> it does because there are so many different interests and voices that
> are looking to be heard.
> At a limited interest organisation, like IFLA, it is possible to
> subdivide tasks in a way that doesn't cause anyone to feel left out. At
> the IGF this would inevitably cause someone to feel misrepresented or
> shut out.
> best regards,
> Amelia
> On 07/27/16 16:58, Stuart Hamilton wrote:
>> Dear Colleagues
>> I just wanted to send a short note thanking you for supporting my participation in the recent IGF retreat, and alerting you to some next steps. In the next day or so a compilation (organized by topic) of the ideas and suggestions that emerged from the retreat will be made available in a format that permits paragraph by paragraph commenting.  This public consultation will be open for two months until 26 September, 2016. It's now time for everyone not at the retreat to get involved and make comments - I'm sure it will be posted to these lists as soon as it is up on the IGF website.
>> While I'm here, I'd also like to offer a couple of limited observations of the retreat. Fundamentally, I felt that for those of us there it was a very open wide-ranging discussion that the outcome documents summarise very well. I don't have much to add in that regard. The one area that was extremely interesting to me though was the idea of the MAG as this gigantic conference organising committee, and what a waste of expertise that seems to be. Speaking from the perspective of a staff member at an international organisation that arranges an annual conference for 3000-4000 people, moving from different region to region each year, there seemed to be a number of areas where a more focused approach to conference planning could produce a better outcome. At the MAG meeting before the retreat I was struck by the amount of MAG members I spoke with who were exhausted and exasperated at having to review >200 workshop proposals. Maybe I was being naïve, but going into the retreat I had assumed some degree of organisation on the MAG that would allow for workshop assessment by area of expertise i.e. proposals would be divided up across groups of individuals, sharing the workload, and playing to each individual's strength in terms of subject knowledge. Not the case apparently, and in my opinion clearly an area that should be addressed.
>> I suddenly realised that my own organisation's annual conference, which features hundreds of sessions and meetings over five days, and has a core conference organising committee of around 10 people, was massively more efficient than that of the IGF. We never really got into discussion about the MAG's effectiveness in the retreat - we did talk about how to better deal with the MAG's nomination process, but we didn't go deep into MAG re-organisation. However, it doesn't seem to me that changing working practices would go anywhere near the MAG mandate, and shouldn't be controversial. At the same time as addressing the workshop review process, there could also be better organisation into sub-groups/working groups on engagement and outreach, information dissemination etc. In side-discussions at the retreat I did discover that there have been/perhaps still are working groups on engagement, but I was not able to ascertain if this is something that get set up each time a new MAG is formed, or if there really is a structure in place to tackle different topics, and utilise individuals' expertise. I'm still left with this as a bit of a grey area I'd like to understand more.
>> Anyway, just some observations as I said. I encourage you all to take a look at the document that will shortly go online, and participate in the public consultation.
>> Cheers,
>> Stuart
>> Dr. Stuart Hamilton
>> Deputy Secretary General
>> International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)
>> P.O. Box 95312
>> 2509 CH The Hague
>> Netherlands
>> 00 31 70 314 0884
>> Twitter: @ifladpa
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> --
> Amelia Andersdotter
> Ordförande, Dataskydd.net
> Telefon: 0764266862
> E-post: amelia.andersdotter at dataskydd.net<mailto:amelia.andersdotter at dataskydd.net>
> "Rätten till privatliv är rätten att själva kunna överblicka vilka vi är och hur vi blir sådana."

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