James.Ryan on 30 Oct 2000 14:14:26 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> vote action

>the technical and bureaucratic implementation of the vote. two good
>(user-nominated) candidates won, auerbach and mueller-maguhn; the rest
>are just a bunch of sops and yes-men, one of whom--the asian rep who
>lives in the US--believes that ICANN is a model for twnety-first
>century governance.

As a resident of New Zealand, I voted in the Asia Pacific region.  Though I nominated all the candidates who openly supported equal rights over domain names to noncommercial interests, I was disappointed that only two or three made it through the nomination.  In particular, there was a woman from Japan who made open statements in her profile that she believed the Internet was being taken over by commercial interests and that the current domain name administration system was biased towards profit-making enterprises.  She vowed to "level the playing field."  Despite the fact that she had the most nominations when I cast my vote two days before the deadline, she mysteriously was not on the ballot.  Since her link is now gone, I don't even remember her name.

While I voted for Sureswaran Ramadas, who wanted ICANN to concentrate more on equal access for poorer nations, nonprofits, etc. I nearly vomited when the "yes man" that Ted describes won the vote.  If you have recently eaten some rancid meat and have sudden need to retch the contents of your stomach, follow http://members.icann.org/cand/196.html

I am sure that he won simply because most people either didn't have the time to read all the profiles or just didn't have any particular stance one way or another and just voted for their country.  Japan has by far the largest Internet population in Asia, and the largest at-large membership in ICANN.

I know you can't agree to participate and then complain about the rules after you've lost, but this first experience was pretty bitter.  I wonder if ICANN will ever open up its records so that we can see why some nominees that were doing well suddenly vanished?  Also, what is the policy on residing in the region you represent?  It seems unfair that Asia Pacific is represented by a guy living in Washington DC who proclaims openly that he "may be viewed as a representative of business and to some extent the intellectual property group."  AARGH!!!!  Is there any way to make ICANN irrelevant? (this is just a cry of despair, but if anyone really wants to try and answer.....)


t byfield <tbyfield@panix.com>
Sent by: nettime-l-request@bbs.thing.net

2000/10/27 13:21
Please respond to t byfield

        To:        nettime-l@bbs.thing.net
        Subject:        Re: <nettime> vote action

pit@klubradio.de (Thu 10/26/00 at 09:46 AM +0200):

> {piggyback on}
> just recently there has been one of the first larger e-votes in the
> history of net.politics. even if non-profit the company who ran it,
> was overwhelmed by the requests. only those with access to the proper
> tools (speak voting-bots) had a good chance to get their own id-number
> and later the right to put a candidate into the seat.
> in the future (speak next election), the decision if you
> can vote or can't will depend very much on a number of other
> 'technical' circumstances. like, having an internet connection at all,
> or a social security number, or at least an intact media immunity system,
> like perceptional spam filters etc.  voting in times of interactivity,
> is something much nearer to gaming, the demographics of consumer
> studies, or the gambling at wall street. Pepsi or Coke? Vote now!
> in the meanwhile let's switch over to:

the election was for ICANN, but ICANN outsourced the election itself
to election.com, which is for-profit and uses proprietary systems.
from what i hear, which is reasonably detailed, their system is shit:
translating the processes involved in registering and voting into
protocols is incredibly complex and surprisingly metaphysical; another
company, safevote, is rumored to have done an excellent job of parsing
the processes and reconstructing them in terms of network prootocols.
safevote's staff includes people who've been working as activists and
watchdogs in the computerization of elections for decades. (safevote
publishes a newsletter, and they give out one free sample issue:
www.safevote.com. i wish they all were free, but they're not.)

election.com's process seems to have gone pretty well for the most
part; the system that broke down was an interface ICANN's pet geek had
written, which ICANN itself was maintaining, to prevent election.com
from having access to voter names (they didn't even give the
candidates the voter rolls). election.com promises to release a 'white
paper' about the whole thing; the CEO said he'd never do an election
again unless they controlled it, ergo they'll never work with ICANN
again--so the paper could be interesting. could be.

there were lots of problems with the enrollment process (which wasn't
run by election.com), but not so many with the election itself. the
biggest problems had to do with 'voter education' (hence the
incredibly low turnout compared to registration) and the failure to
clearly explain the voting system that was being used. i haven't heard
a word about voting bots, and i've done a *lot* of research into the
ICANN election. it wasn't just another 'hank, the angry drunken
dwarf' or 'man of the century = ataturk' process at all: those were
overrun by bots, but had no out-of-band authentication systems, which
the ICANN election did. but that's not to defend it: there were a lot
of hijinks and lies, though in the signup process, not the election
itself--and that's a real distinction.

the 'right candidate' is a problematic way to put it, because ICANN's
board-appointed Nominating Committee picked, i think, slightly over
half of the candidates.  the process is much more than just technical,
there are countless hours of negotiations and maneuvering underlying
the technical and bureaucratic implementation of the vote. two good
(user-nominated) candidates won, auerbach and mueller-maguhn; the rest
are just a bunch of sops and yes-men, one of whom--the asian rep who
lives in the US--believes that ICANN is a model for twnety-first
century governance.

the issue of internet access is a non-issue in this context: all you
needed was an email address and access to some form of net access,
even temporary or public.  that doesn't seem especially unreasonable
given that the election was for ICANN. it *is* unreasonable in the
case of a properly governmental election, such as one in arizona which
election.com partly handled (election.com was sued for this, but the
suit got thrown out of court).

i suppose the fact that you could use a joystick as a voting 'inter-
face' might make electronic voting 'nearer' to gaming, but you could
say the same of writing a novel, too. what was and remains at issue
in this election was very precisely *not* some pepsi/coke pseudo-
choice; rather, it is the preservation of the historical norm of a
pre-'public' common culture against that kind of vanguardist model in
which commercial interests reign supreme over any dialogism, hetero-
geneity, and multiplicity of reference. and, beyond that, whether
spectacular fascination with the 'technical implementations' of these
systems, in all their myriad detail and complexity, will be privileged
over the social and material processes that give rise to them. 'inter-
face culture' is a cute phrase thought up by some glib american cyber-
writer, but it's hardly adequate for describing what's going on.


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