[At-Large] On a "consumer" agenda for ICANN
karl at cavebear.com
Thu Sep 15 19:07:39 UTC 2016
On 9/15/16 1:45 AM, Evan Leibovitch wrote:
> The definitive answer, is within the ICANN bylaws. Article XI
> Section 2.4a, which states unambiguously:
> /The At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) is the primary
> organizational home within ICANN for individual Internet users./
I am fairly sure that I was the author of that sentence. ;-)
Stepping back to the rarely mentioned elephant in the room - under
California law ICANN exists for the purpose of promoting the public
benefit. And everything it does must be measured by that standard. Yes,
that's a standard that is vague. But although vague that standard does
suggest a broad scope rather than a limited one.
With regard to the notions of representation and "stewardship". First,
let's drop that latter word. A steward's job is to preserve and manage,
much like a trustee. But ICANN has become a political organization that
does far more than merely "preserve" things. So by using the word
"steward" we risk imposing mental strictures on ourselves or misleading
observers to think that the role is less than it really is.
As for representation - yes, it is hard. There is no pure conduit for
public opinion short of a full direct vote on all things. That's not
very efficient (although in these electronic days it may be easier than
it has been in the past assuming that we can resolve the
A person who is acting as a representative performs several roles.
One of those roles is as a idea-leader: Rather than being a passive
reflector of those he/she represents the representative ought to be an
active promoter of ideas - and an equally active evaluator of how well
his/her electorate (or the broader public) accepts or rejects those ideas.
Another role is as a kind of idea-stomach that digests the opinions of
the electorate/public in order to synthesize a position on an issue.
This is really, really hard. And it is why electorates need the power
to replace representatives who are not doing it well.
And with regard to the thread about tech people being somewhat
disconnected from the broader "emotional" world: I tend to agree with
that point of view.
The 20th century saw many cases in which technology was considered
somehow a more pure source of governance. There were films that
advocated that view - the best known was "Things To Come" in 1936.
I believe that ICANN was born from the idea that the internet should be
governed by clean, pure, philosopher techies rather than dirty, impure
But again and again we have seen the inaccuracy that point of view. For
example, here in the US it was technocrats like Donald Rumsfeld and
Robert McNamara who led us into some terrible military failures. And
ICANN has become as political as any other regulatory body whose
decisions to act, or not to act, have large economic consequences on
It isn't that we techies can't be good at governance. We just tend to
have a bit of tunnel vision and a somewhat less broad base of
experience. To leave a thought - consider how the 1956 movie "Forbidden
Planet" turned out for the Krell.
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