[ALAC] Why aren't more At-Largers involved in PDPs? (was: [ALAC-Announce] ICANN News Alert -- ICANN Provides Update on Review of the Community Priority Evaluation Process)

Vanda Scartezini vanda at scartezini.org
Thu Sep 7 20:03:38 UTC 2017

As Alan, I agree with Evan’s statement.
 I personally have compromised several good job projects here due my commitment with ICANN just because I believe it is relevant to participate, but I need to pay my bills and living in a developing country is yet more difficult than for those living in developed ones.
What I am doing here since is more and more difficult to get good results with outreach is trying to bring to ICANN in my region, retired people. ( those that can be considered as retired since our pensions here can not even pay the utilities in our apt.) but even so they re not interested in commit their time. So we agreed to meet once a month to discuss ICANN issues I believe are relevant for users in general and listen to their opinions to add to mines, so even not names showing up they are contributing.
With Young people ( I have at my office some start ups from very young and brilliant people) and have discussed with them some of those issues but they are too focus on their business to really commit their time, Some have  joined working groups but quickly get out, since they do not see direct results in their lives. Other found more convenient join IGF groups where discussions and jobs opportunities looks much more present.
Hard to find a good solution.
From my view the new board, (but Avri, I believe) will be less interested in users view since they are expensive and besides comprove relevance to the world when need to explain ICANN’s importance ( the already existed group is perceived as enough I guess) , financial contribution is not perceived by ICANN  and its board , and $$ tend to be more and more important for future support.
New gTLDs are not showing the progress expected for the owners and I am seen, at least  in this region, more and more interest in use their TLD as just  brand ,  not to sell or use outside their own business. This will not bring cash to ICANN and I understand growing preoccupation on financial future.
Just my thoughts
Vanda Scartezini
Polo Consultores Associados
Av. Paulista 1159, cj 1004
01311-200- Sao Paulo, SP, Brazil
Land Line: +55 11 3266.6253
Mobile: + 55 11 98181.1464
Sorry for any typos.

From: <alac-bounces at atlarge-lists.icann.org<mailto:alac-bounces at atlarge-lists.icann.org>> on behalf of Alan Greenberg <alan.greenberg at mcgill.ca<mailto:alan.greenberg at mcgill.ca>>
Date: Thursday, September 7, 2017 at 16:29
To: Evan Leibovitch <evan at telly.org<mailto:evan at telly.org>>
Cc: 'ALAC List' <alac at atlarge-lists.icann.org<mailto:alac at atlarge-lists.icann.org>>
Subject: Re: [ALAC] Why aren't more At-Largers involved in PDPs? (was: [ALAC-Announce] ICANN News Alert -- ICANN Provides Update on Review of the Community Priority Evaluation Process)

Evan, there is a lot of truth in what you say (although I am far less sure that your 3-part formula is the answer). But I return to the original question of Community gTLD Applications. If this is an important issue to us (and it does seem to be), how can we get more involvement in the issue so the outcomes have a higher chance of meeting what we believe is needed?


At 07/09/2017 02:54 AM, Evan Leibovitch wrote:
On 6 September 2017 at 23:43, Alan Greenberg <alan.greenberg at mcgill.ca<mailto:alan.greenberg at mcgill.ca> > wrote:

*IF* this matter is really important, it is problematic that so few people are participating in the PDP.

​Of course it is problematic. It is also completely predictable and understandable and always has been; it is has been a built-in ICANN process design to handicap our efforts.

At-Large, by definition, is here to represent the interests of end-users. Its membership does not have domain buying or selling as primary livelihoods (if they are they really ought not to be here as their interests are being represented elsewhere in the ICANN ecosystem). As a result, most participants here have day jobs and Other Things To Do. To them, Internet governance is a sideline, an interest, maybe even a passion. But  they are at a MASSIVE disadvantage compared to those for whom ICANN awareness and manipulation is a job. ICANN processes are heavily biased in favour of those who commit their lives, and against the typical ALS or individual member. This is fine for the paid staff, consultants and academics for whom involvement in ICANN and Internet governance pays their rent. The rest of us, not so good.

Look at the time consumption of even the most trivial PDP. High-level issues are shunted aside while trivial details and definitions consume person-hours by the hundreds. A WG that Alan and I now attend regarding the process for allocating ICANN auction funds has been spending weeks on the definition of "what is an open Internet". In my decades of public service, ICANN's rate of accomplishment-per-volunteer-hour is massively less than anything else I have done in my life.

So it's no wonder At-Large participation in WGs is so rare. The number of people able to cope with the time commitment, the many other barriers (no language interpretation!!), small groups of aggressive speakers who dominate the debates and shut down dissent through derision and legalese. WGs usually meet at ICANN meetings, putting those who don't travel to them at a disadvantage. It can easily be overwhelming, especially when it so often leads to our not being heard anyway unless we agree with the pack.

Let's please be honest. At any given time, the number of people in At-Large who can cope with all this, and put in the heroic levels of commitment of folks like Alan, usually requires only one hand to count. Most others have three choices when a PDP (or similar WG) offer arises:

  *   Have a substantially diminished personal life for the duration of the PDP to do it right, in a way that may well impact their actual income-producing work
  *   Be involved in the PDP at a reduced rate, but then eventually get lost by falling behind
  *   Sit it out, and get involved instead in outreach or infrastructure (still challenging, but not on the scale -- or with the hostility -- of the policy work)

Compounding the problem is that PDPs are commissioned by the GNSO with few exceptions, and if the WG is not designated as cross community (rare), At-Large's ability to frame the topics and counter the agenda of a determined and unified domain industry is ... weak.

There are some steps that may be taken to improve the situation:

  *   Dedicate At-Large staff to policy development support to assist those At-Large people who choose to get involved
  *   Deal with responses at a higher level so that our people can make informed input without having to be involved in every step of the inevitable minutiae
  *   Create an annual strategic plan for policy to highlight the areas of concern, and stick faithfully to only participate in, and respond to, process that impact those areas

Without these steps (and maybe even with them) our volunteer resources simply are not able to match the involvement and relentlessness of the domain industry communities.

The answer is not to scare off newcomers or burn out veterans. Rather, At-Large must recognize the limitations with which we must work in policy development, and develop creative ways within the ICANN bylaws to make our voice most effective given who we are and what we are able to do.


- Evan
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