[NA-Discuss] Whither Outreach? (was Re: MAILCARD Feedback)

Evan Leibovitch evan at telly.org
Wed Jan 18 02:47:43 UTC 2017

On 17 January 2017 at 16:53, gbruen at knujon.com <gbruen at knujon.com> wrote:

> When Glenn and I looked at this a while ago we tried to focus on
> populations getting the LEAST representation
> ​.

>From my estimation,that would be Texans.
Population 28 million, zero ALSs.

> I wish we could focus on getting them engaged and not deciding which
> imaginary line th
> ​​
> ey're across.

Turning wish to deed is possible -- and highly desirable -- but difficult.

All the outreach and fellowships in the ICANN world are pointless if
there's no coherent plan for how to engage this diversity once it's here.
Maybe that planning should have been done BEFORE the outreach?

It's my experience -- and we've already seen this with many of the first
ALSs who have dropped out, gone dormant or stayed on the sidelines -- is
that we're not very good at honestly explaining the context (and the
limits) of what all these new voices will be able to affect once here. Many
who are enticed by the promise of "have a say in how the Internet is run"
are highly disappointed when they get here and see how small a corner of
Internet governance is overseen by ICANN. What is different between this
corner and others (ie, accessibility, censorship, net neutrality) is that
this is where the money hangs out, this is the financially exploitable part
of global Internet Governance that attracts the whores, speculators, cheats
and investors. So it is ICANN that can pay for meetings and outreach
projects that the IGF and ISOC couldn't dream of, even though the latter
groups' remits are far more expansive and relevant to the public interest.

Instead, we beckon this broad and wise coalition -- in theory, to advise on
whether the world needs a thousand new top-level domains, or whether we
must force domain owners to open sales to all domain resellers, or whether
international organizations should be allowed to take domains using their
acronyms off the open market. Or other things like that. And that's in the
few good moments when we're not navel-gazing.

Heck, we're nowhere near the deeper (and more critical) meta issues within
ICANN, such as the balance between privacy and accountability (that is,
should domain owners be able to hide their identity? Even if their domains
are the source of fraud or hate or trolls?)

These issues REQUIRE our thought and our input, and should be defining our
collective role here. That's what the ICANN bylaws say we're here to do.
And yet here we are, talking about mailcards, slogans, rules and procedures
... as well as how many new under-represented groups we can bring in so
they too can talk about mailcards, slogans, rules and procedures. It's
embarrassing, or at least it should be.

Garth, this much is objectively measurable -- as NARALO's sheer numbers of
ALSs have gone up, its leadership in At-Large policy analysis has
plummeted. When I read in the At-Large Review about the intent to reboot
(or even eliminate) the RALO/ALS model because of its lack of policy
effectiveness, I felt the authors were staring right at NARALO for their
rationale. (That said, most other RALOs are not much better.)

Outreach is not enough, in fact at this point I would argue it's a harmful
distraction. All that diversity of voice needs to be planned-for, enabled
and encouraged to say something of value within ICANN, else the effort to
bring it together is wasted.

- Evan
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