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Recap of CIRA Annual General Meeting and Symposium

September 23rd, 2010 Comments off

Zak Muscovitch

Zak Muscovitch at DomainConvergence 2008

Guest contributor Zak Muscovitch is a domain name lawyer, based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He has been practicing domain name law for over ten years and is now running for the election for a seat on the CIRA Board of Directors. Go to http://www.DNattorney.com and http://zak-for-cira.ca/ for more information. Voting is open to CIRA members until noon ET September 29th, 2010.

Two days ago, on September 21, 2010, CIRA (the Canadian Internet Registration Authority) held its Annual General Meeting and Symposium in Toronto, called, “Canadians Connected”, and it was a world class event.

Integrated into the usual corporate housekeeping involved in annual meetings, the Symposium brought together .CA domain name owners from all over the country and a CIRA attendance record was set. Nearly 500 people  participated in person, and hundreds more online.

Orchestrated by CIRA CEO Byron Holland with the support of a small army of capable and dedicated staff, Canadians Connected presented what can only be considered a visionary, and arguably somewhat miraculous, approach to  reinvigorating the Canadian Internet community.

Continue reading after the jump.

CIRA put together some of the best and brightest minds in the digital world. Speakers included:

  • Terry O’Reilly, advertising and marketing guru, and host of the groundbreaking CBC radio show, The Age of Persuasion;
  • Mitch Joel, social media evangelist and superstar consultant to the world’s top companies;
  • Paul Vixie, Internet pioneer and creative genius behind many of the technological innovations that helped create and maintain the Internet;
  • John Demco, a living legend who basically gave birth to the .CA registry; and
  • Chris O’Neil, Internet advertising expert and newly appointed Google Country Director for Canada, after having returned to his native Canada from the U.S.

We heard Terry O’Neil explain Canada’s unique characteristics and heard him describe how Canada is perceived by others and by ourselves. His insights enabled us to see that Canadians need to be told stories from a Canadian perspective in order to be persuaded. We also learned that Canadians need to be aware of how they are perceived internationally when trying to persuade others. Internet-minded Canadians must appreciate and understand these insights when learning how to market within Canada and abroad. Marketing Canadian goods and services on the Internet is something that Canadians need to do much better to compete globally and Terry O’Reilly inspired us to do that.

We heard Mitch Joel explain that ‘the future is now’, and that we had better learn to embrace the Internet and take advantage of the paradigm-shifting capabilities that it offers. He implored us to ‘burn the ships’ and explore, in a reference to the discovery of the ‘new world’. He showed us how advertising and marketing in the digital age is dramatically different from the old world and we must adapt or be unable to compete.

We heard from John Demco some of the background on how CIRA came to be. Operating from a basement at UBC with a handful of volunteers, he managed and operated the .CA domain name system well before it was transferred to CIRA. Recalling the rudimentary origins of the Canadian Internet and embodying the pioneering spirit, we were inspired to create, to solve, and to innovate.

We heard from Paul Vixie, who can only be described as a one-of-a-kind technological grown-up wiz kid. We felt that he was on a first name basis with the Internet and even knew its parents. He reminded us that the fancy graphical user interfaces and speedy services are supported by a labyrinth of software and hardware that only exists as a result of scientists like him who have come up with solutions and fixes without us even being aware.

We heard from Chris O’Neil who set out what Google believes to be its ‘big bets’ on the future of the Internet. Having the most senior person in Canada from the world’s greatest commercial Internet innovator reminded us that Canada can have an important leadership role in developing Internet commerce both locally and globally.

CIRA was clearly staking its ground as a leader in not only domain name registry management, but also in Internet thought and innovation. Having observed CIRA for many years as a seemingly bureaucratic organization that was not particularly attune to the exciting and important developments in the Internet world, it felt like we were observing the miraculous transformation of a dusty Canadian paperweight to a world-class and visionary exploration vessel. By exploring Canada’s past, place, and future in the Internet world, CIRA presented a convincing case for Canada to lead world in the development and use of the Internet.

To make matters even more exciting, Byron Holland announced the creation of the Canadian Internet Governance Forum. This demonstrated a very serious commitment to exploring Internet and public policy issues with numerous national consultations focusing on Economic Development and Digital Literacy. Byron Holland just returned from Vilnius, Lithuania where he represented Canada at the Internet Governance Forum, where the international participants debated the most important issues regarding the nature and use of the Internet, such as net neutrality, freedom of expression, cyber security, and interoperability. Clearly CIRA has shown through its actions, that it fundamentally understands the need to balance its mandate in both economic and social development and that CIRA can be at its best when it is a leader in the Internet community. Not exactly the staid and simple domain name administrator that it once was.

Canada can very proud that CIRA is leading the way into the great debates and policy discussions that are necessary to inspire change and innovation in the digital universe. Now we must all do our part to harness the inspiration to do better, create more, solve more, adapt more, and take our place as a leader in the global Internet community.

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