ITU: Out of Touch?

9:45 AM -- GENEVA -- ITU Telecom World 2009 -- The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is positioning this event as the "defining event for the ICT community." ICT (Information and Communication Technology) can create jobs, help combat global warming, help in education and healthcare, and lots of other wonderful things, says the ITU.

OK, great. So that's a really bold pitch, and this event is little more than four days long, which isn't much time to get a grasp on some (but by no means all) of the world's major problems and identify some potential actions.

Why, then does the opening ceremony to this event begin with a meaningless dance performance followed by a series of largely empty statements and thank yous, interspersed only briefly with occasional statements or comments concerning services, technologies, investments, and strategies that might stimulate relevant debate? (See ITU Day 1: Green Is the Color.)

It seems to me that people are here at this event to come to grips with policy and the serious impact that technology can have on the world, and time is precious. Eating up that time with pointless (however lovely) dancing and platitudes reminds me of some of the inane extravagances of Supercomm events of years gone by, and suggests that the ITU, as an organization, is badly out of synch with what people want and why they are here.

I may be wrong, but some instant reaction from other attendees suggests I'm not along in thinking some of the Day 1 activities here in Geneva are a waste of time and effort.

Let's get on with it...

— Ray Le Maistre, Chief Grump, Light Reading

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