April 29th in the small mountain community of Urzulei on the island of Sardinia marked a date, that for a number of reasons, will long be remembered by the international Speleological community. Here is a brief rundown of the historic event.
For the past several years, efforts have been underway to firm up an international accord for cultural exchanges between the speleo communities of Brazil and Italy. Recently, thanks to the efforts of Sorya Ayub, a multi-lingual scientist and member of the Brazilian Speleological Society, (SBE) as well as Riccardo Dall Acqua, a member of the Italian Speleological Sociery, (SSI) a long discussed plan to unite the two societies moved toward finally becoming a reality with a draft accord. It basically is a seventeen-point agreement spelling out the technical details for collaborative work and exchanges between the two countries.
But arranging a face-to-face meeting between officers of the SBE in Brazil and the SSI in Italy to iron out the bureaucratic and geographic hurdles was a problem. But the very clever Soraya, who has been a Portuguese to Italian translator as well as producer for a number of videos on our popular NUg streaming web video "Napoli Underground Channel" suggested an international video conference. This would allow the Brazilian president to confer with the Italian officers and members. It seemed a bit daunting, but since we have already had successfully set up live streaming video conferences with other Speleo groups in Italy, we agreed. Ah . . . technical ignorance is bliss!
The Italian SSI annual meeting is held in different locations all over Italy from year to year. This year's meeting, ICNUSSA2009, was set in a colorful if somewhat remote town on the island of Sardinia. This presented added challenges to finding a high speed broadband internet connection in the remote village of Urzulei, way up in the mountains above the East coast of the island. But, again, ignorance is bliss, and the energy and enthusiasm of Fulvio and Luca was mirrored by the enthusiasm of SSI as well as the Brazilians. With a will there is a way!
Initial tests indicated that it would be a good idea to have two possible "master control" program switching locations. Luca, in addition to being a seasoned speleologist, and technical video engineering specialist, is also a fine computer scientist, videographer and video editor. So, a day before the shoot, Luca loaded up his car with equipment, drove North from Naples, almost to Rome and then drove aboard a huge seagoing ferry for the overnight trip way down to Sardinia. After landing at Sardinia, Luca motored up the old state roadway into the mountains and finally located the SSI group which included many old friends. Luca determined that land-line high speed internet was as likely as Italian mountain elephants in the village, but he nonetheless was somehow able to utilize a wireless signal and his cellphone for tests with Fulvio back on the mainland in Naples which seemed to work well enough.
The whole three-way Brazil-Italy teleconference was anchored in Naples by Fulvio with streaming web program control which could be shifted, as need be to another computer at a second location which allowed Soraya Ayub, listening to the streaming web feed from Brazil ready to translate from Portuguese to Italian as officials from Brazil. Now they could meet via internet web video with their Italian counterparts to work out agreement on the final wording of the accord. Piece of cake! Oh yeah, there is also a seven hour time difference between Naples and Brazil, just to make it all more fun.
Meanwhile, some thirty real-time viewers from all over Italy, as well as Brazil, and the United States logged onto the Napoli Underground Channel at 9:30 PM Napoli time watch the broadcast. Napoli underground Channel allows NUg members to sign in post text comments during live NUg webcasts. Members signed on and exchanged text greetings, as well as snide comments as technical glitches in video and audio were worked out. All the while, it is getting way past Fulvio's bedtime.
But after some initial frustration, sharp audio and video finally was obtained. The Brazil-Italy accord was ratified and the group of enthusiastic Italian cavers even later broadcast a spirited and fun-filled auction of donated items as a fund raiser for the organization. The little mountain town must be a fine wine producing region as well...
The next day, Luca loaded up all his equipment, found his way down the mountain and rolled back on board for another long ferry ride back to Rome, followed by another couple hour drive from Rome back home to Naples.
When he recovers, Luca will be using photos and video of the event to produce a NUg video of the whole mad gathering of spirited spelunkers!
We will post a notice when the English language version of the video is available.LARRY RAY
. . . we were there that evening!!!