[ALAC] ALAC & At-Large involvement in GNSO activities

Carlton Samuels carlton.samuels at gmail.com
Wed Feb 13 16:20:05 UTC 2013

I'm between engagements and took a look.  This argument peaked my interest.

Olivier made some observations and its a +1.

Most of you know my position. Persons like me, yet sentient, *volunteer* to
do a job.  And when said persons, like me again, avail themselves of tools
that enable them to do that job, I am prepared to help in execution.

But if you *volunteer* with the expectation that I must constantly coax you
to do what you, yet sentient, *volunteered* to do, with respect, that is an
unconscionable imposition. Especially when I have to work, like you, for a

As that old bromide of a joke goes, the chief without indians is a dead
one. And what the ALAC needs is more indians.  There are mechanisms in
place to deliver them; that's RALOs===>ALS. And therein lies the problem.
It is also the locus of a feature of voluntarism.  Many are called.  But
few remain locked to calling.

I know that problem acutely.  Our membership is potentially 45K!  Hell, I
cannot even get the man signed up vice me from an institution to get on a
teleconference; he gets every email, he's busy and its work!  In some ways
it is like pimping. And I guess in some ways, too, it ain't easy.  Meaning,
being a volunteer who deliberately takes on more work to get others to
work. And, for free!  Especially for the kind of sustained effort that is
names and numbers policy development.

I don't know how many members there are in Avri's active ALSes.  And I
don't know how many of the lot are *actively* engaged in names and numbers
policy development. But I can tell you if you do the work it is easier to
get a head nodded or a tick mark in agreement!

Here's an active case from my edge of empire. We are starting an ISOC
chapter.  There are over 68 global ISOC members here, most of them
clustered in the Kingston metropolitan region. We need at least 25 for
recognition as a chapter. [Hmmm, wonder why that specific number?] So we
advertised the formative activities relentlessly.  We ended up having a
meeting of 10; only 4 attendees were already ISOC members. Two of those
were also ICANN fellows. And the lament was the same; people who are
natural members say they don't have the time.

Grist for the mill.


Carlton A Samuels
Mobile: 876-818-1799
*Strategy, Planning, Governance, Assessment & Turnaround*

On Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 8:45 AM, Olivier MJ Crepin-Leblond <ocl at gih.com>wrote:

> Dear Avri,
> thank you for your kind message. I'll reply to a few selected paragraphs:
> On 13/02/2013 14:12, Avri Doria wrote:
> > ALAC is not alone in the lack of real grassroots bottom-up activity.
>  But one of the things that is most remarkable about the At-Large is that
> it really is supposed to be about reaching the actual users and bringing
> them in.  That is hard, but it is special and it something that ALAC should
> be dedicated to; it does not appear to be.   Until this actually starts to
> happen, until the users' voices are actually heard and measured in a
> predictable and steady manner on the most important decisions, ALAC remains
> part of a top down solution, not the representatives of a bottom-up
> democratic effort.  ALAC is a bureau, and as happens in many bureaucracies,
> has become an self maintaining institution unto itself that is not
> connected to the people it is supposed to represent.
> I think that this criticism is unwarranted. Let me repeat this again:
> the ALAC is *dedicated* to the bottom-up process. All of the ALAC's
> calls are open to any ALS to participate in and I have, on each of the
> RALO calls, actively asked that individuals from ALSes get involved
> directly in the policy development. And I say it again here: the current
> policy development of the ALAC is here: https://community.icann.org/x/bwFO
> Anyone can comment on the current drafts. Anyone can volunteer to hold
> the pen in putting together a first draft. But it is hard work -- and so
> far, only a small subset of ALS representatives not in the ALAC have
> held the pen.
> Another component is capacity building. Through working groups, but also
> through RALO working groups, we are making progress on Capacity
> Building. Informal discussions I have had with ALS representatives made
> it appear that only when our ALSes are empowered can they feel the
> confidence in taking part in the ALAC's bottom-up policy development
> process.
> Now I am aware that our ALAC Web site is still an absolute mess and was
> supposed to be completely redesigned a year ago -- and that the process
> has been taking ages, but the ball is in ICANN Staff hands and as you
> know ICANN has gone through a complete change - so our community is
> still eagerly awaiting a follow-up on this.
> Now let me address something which you appear to point to regarding
> bottom up: bottom up policy input has nothing to do with elections,
> selections and appointments. Elections, Selections and Appointments are
> to do with leadership. Bottom-up is to do with having the policy input
> from the edges go to the top --- and this community has been practising
> this for as long as I have been an ALAC member... so the I reject the
> blame you are putting onto the ALAC, sorry.
> > As ALAC sets itself to carry a message of global public interest, it is
> critical that At-Large really become a bottom-up organization. Or let me
> say, as we in ICANn seem to be losing the definition of bottom-up as we
> continually speaking of it, even when it is absent.  It needs to be
> energized and motivated as a grass-roots organization. And for that to
> happen ALAC really has to work hard to bring the ALS members and other
> users into the process.  The At-large has yet to become real.  After all of
> the years, since the creation of ALAC, At-Large is largely missing from the
> formula.
> Sorry, I do not agree. The First At-Large Summit got the community to
> come together and do excellent work.
> We are now going to ask for a second Summit and I hope you will join us
> in promoting this to the rest of the ICANN community when the time comes.
> In the meantime, by the end of this year, every region will have had its
> own Face to Face General Assembly and Capacity Building Programme. But
> as one ALS member recently said very eloquently on a RALO call, "a
> one-off face to face meeting was good, but not enough. You cannot learn
> everything in one go. I wish we could have two or three face to face
> meetings to help us be more effective in our input and understand the
> issues".
> And this is completely in line with my point of view and the point of
> view of many of my colleagues. Ask Sandra, Sala, Tijani, Cheryl and
> their respective Teams with which they have worked hard to put together
> proposals: "why have they done this" ? Because it's all about user and
> ALS empowerment to channel their input into the ICANN policy development
> process.
> >
> > Alan's message calls for At-large involvement in the policy development
> processes.  I support this call, but it must be a call for the At-Large and
> not just to ALAC.  As the pinnacle of At-Large, it is ALAC job to figure
> out how to make involvement of the At-Large real.  Until it is, ALAC advice
> will always be suspect as the voice of a few privileged suzerains.
> So you see? You and I agree on the conclusion. And I think that my ALAC
> colleagues will agree too. The size of the task is so huge, it's going
> to take time, work and funding. And we all know that Rome was not built
> in a day, so we need to start one step at a time. The good thing is that
> we have already started.
> Kind regards,
> Olivier
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