[At-Large] Trip to Caucasus - conclusions and recommendations

Christian de Larrinaga cdel at firsthand.net
Wed Jul 10 20:18:52 UTC 2013


Very interesting observations.

It will be worth following how the regional identity develops. I wonder
if the desire to be European doesn't colour their view of IDNs. If they
adopt alternative scripts do they feel somehow less European?

Shouldn't of course but I wonder.

Your observation vis a vis their technical community being disinterested
in ICANN I would argue holds good in the UK and USA. I doubt this is
about too little marketing but possibly too much?

ICANN activity is devoted to legalistic or even quasi regulatory
legalistic rather than empowering engineering led solutions. Only when
it gets too unbearable and dangerous does the technical community feel
obliged to step in and point out reality.

I might note today's IAB statement on dotless domains as an example.

Whether the "blank spot" in engagement with ICANN you talk of explains
some of the antics we saw in WCIT and follow on activities I suppose can
only be answered by ICANN energising in that region. On that note it
would make sense to make them happy and include them in the region they
wish to be in.

thank you


Roberto Gaetano wrote:
> I would like to conclude this sequence of messages with some final
> consideration and proposals for action. As usual, separate messages for
> different lists.
> Regional issue
> There is wide unhappiness in the South Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan,
> Georgia) about being considered in the Asia-Pacific-Australasia region, they
> would rather be included in the European region.
> I have included some of the rationale in my previous messages, but just to
> summarize, it is about preferential partnership with Europe for Internet
> projects, long term plans to join the European Union, being already
> considered part of Europe in other cases related to music and sport, the
> proximity to Europe more than to the Pacific rim, and, last but not least,
> that for IP addresses and ccTLDs often these countries are members of the
> European regional organizations (RIPE and CENTR).
> There is an ongoing activity to rethink the ICANN regions. These
> considerations should be brought forward in that context (actually, I
> believe that this is the case already, but I would like to bring this item
> to the attention of the whole ALAC community).
> IDNs
> I have noted only mild interest about IDNs in my discussions with the local
> community. This was a surprise to me, in particular considering that two
> countries have a different script and the third one has several special
> characters added to the latin script.
> Is this a matter of fact, i.e. IDNs will not bring much to the local
> internet community, neither in terms of business opportunities nor in terms
> of ease of use by the community, or does this show a lack of promotion and
> advertisement of the IDNs by ICANN and its stakeholders? I think that this
> is a serious question: are we spending a lot of resources for something that
> is only of mild interest, or are we jeopardizing huge efforts by not
> advertising enough to our community?
> Also, I have an additional question. This is the feedback I have from the
> South Caucasus region, but what is the situation in other parts of the
> world? Does anybody have other types of info? I guess that the deployment of
> the first IDNs will give a partial answer to this question, but do we really
> need to wait more to take appropriate marketing steps for what is one of the
> major innovations in the DNS, and one of ICANN's success stories?
> Outreach - 1
> In my report from Armenia I spoke about the "blank spot" on the ICANN
> penetration map. Without any doubt, we have much to do in relation to
> At-Large outreach in the former Soviet Union.
> ALAC is present with ALSes in very few of these countries, and completely
> absent in all the "stans". This is related to the situation about human
> rights, government control, freedom of press, and so on. However, aren't we
> in a vicious circle? In other words, which is the cause and which is the
> effect? Had we some active users organizations, wouldn't these be able to
> influence the government? I think that people living in that reality can
> contribute more to this debate than somebody like me, who only was there
> visiting, but unless the local community in the CIS (Community of
> Independent States) tell me loud and clear that there's nothing we can do to
> change the situation, I will continue thinking that developing At-Large
> community and structures must be one of our priorities. If we believe in the
> multi-stakeholder model, we must be committed to develop this model where it
> is not fully implemented.
> I would recommend to have a meeting of the Outreach WG in Durban. I know it
> is late in the game, but I don't think we need a large room and a long time,
> if it is not possible to have an "official" meeting I would at least hope
> that the members of the WG can get together at the bar to have a chat. But
> of course a meeting with staff support, minutes, and a clear action list as
> a result would be better. Incidentally, I hope that Veni will be in Durban,
> because his contribution is essential.
> I learned that there is already sub-regional collaboration for technical
> issues related to the internet, and that the internet technical community of
> the former Soviet Union countries already meets regularly. Shall we seek to
> have a couple of (Russian-speaking) ALAC members participating, to explore
> collaboration opportunities? About 10 years ago I went to a CENTR meeting to
> promote links between the ccTLDs and the forming ALAC. Nothing came out of
> it, but in time we had some developments, including ccTLD operators joining
> At-Large. But if we never start, we will never get anywhere.
> Outreach - 2
> Besides outreach to specific geographical areas, it seems that we need
> outreach plans for specific stakeholder groups.
> First of all, I had confirmation of something we all had observed over the
> years: the lack of interest by the scientific and research community in
> ICANN activities. Is this a matter of fact, i.e. there is no reason why the
> internet scientific and research community should participate in Internet
> Governance activities, or do we have here another case of lack of marketing
> of ICANN's role? The key question is what can ICANN, and ALAC, offer to this
> community so that we can establish collaboration? If we establish
> collaboration on specific projects, we will naturally see a higher interest
> in participation by them.
> Again, there is probably one simple way: to participate, as observers, to
> some of the activities that the internet scientific and research community
> is performing. We need a couple of ALAC members that are technically
> competent, to be respected by the other participants, that can understand
> and report what are the needs and priorities, and then we can analyse the
> implications for the user community and propose contributions.
> Also, we need to take into account the more general question: "What can
> ICANN do for the user community?". I am under the impression that, although
> ALAC has grown in size and importance, the core of our group is still
> composed by idealists who debate matters of principle. Matters of principle
> are surely important, but we need also to address some practical needs. For
> instance, what do we do in support of registrants, to make them better aware
> of their rights and to help them when they get in trouble with their
> suppliers? The development of the new TLD programme might make this aspect
> even more critical. Can we think of training activities, done by ALSes in
> collaboration with other bodies? I am sure that some ALSes do already this,
> for instance ISOC chapters are involved in user training, but how much are
> these experiences shared within ALAC, and used as example for building new
> activities? For instance, at the ISOC Armenia meeting I spoke with Narine
> Khachatryan (Media Education Center), who told me about a "train the
> trainer" programme, an experience that could be interesting to other ALSes.
> Should we include in the ATLAS II programme some time for sharing these
> experiences?
> There are discussions already going on in terms of budget, I do not want to
> interfere here with the official bodies that are making decisions now, but I
> strongly believe that ALAC, as a grown-up adult, should be entitled to
> manage a part of the budget for initiatives that can be decided when the
> opportunity comes, without having to go for a long and cumbersome approval
> cycle. If this is done, we should have a budget item earmarked for
> "Outreach" where we can decide activities that we will perform with the
> objective of improving our penetration in the wide At-Large community
> worldwide.
> Last but not least, when we talk about "Digital Divide" we often think in
> terms of developing countries vs. industrialized world. However, there are
> other divides within each country. The experience in the South Caucasus made
> me aware of the divide between cities and countryside, the problems of
> scarcely populated areas (I believe we already have an example of ALS
> operating in Canada in this type of environment), the divide between the
> digital natives and the others (Tijani might remember a discussion we had in
> Tunisia years ago about the effort in doing something to help elderly
> people). I think these are things we need to start thinking about if we want
> to go to the next step in ALAC's life, which is to be more relevant in the
> internet community's everyday life, and I am sure that this will bring new
> people, new organizations, new ideas, and will drive the multi-stakeholder
> model to a higher level of implementation.
> Cheers,
> Roberto
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