t byfield on 7 Dec 2000 07:48:18 -0000

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> Vint Cerf wants to remind you that ICANN is still not a world government

esmaggbe@cetus.zrz.TU-Berlin.DE (Wed 12/06/00 at 02:36 PM +0100):


> There's been quite a lively discussion about content related gTLDs like
> dot-kids. That brings us to the point that many people think about ICANN as
> some sort of a world government.


> This is not a good way to think about ICANN. Many people want it to be. I
> think I understand what's going on. People see this Internet, and they see a
> lot of its power and effects. And they recognize, it can be abused. And they
> want somehow to have a place to go to deal with problems and their different
> policies. Now they see ICANN over here and it has a fairly international
> profile. So they want to load up ICANN with anything that might have to do
> with either regulation of the Net or with somehow addressing complaints.
> This is probably not a very fruitful idea in my opinion.
> ICANN will function best if it's very constrained in its responsibility.
> This does not mean that the board or the staff are insensitive to some of
> the issues raised, but rather that ICANN is not the right place to resolve
> these issues. So I would much rather prefer to see these matters raised in
> forums where those issues are commonly handled so that ICANN can stay pretty
> focussed on things like: does the registry work properly? Does it interwork
> with the root? Does it interwork with clients, registrars? Do you have a way
> of backing it up in case something goes wrong? There are pretty straight
> forward technical requirements that you have to meet. And to meet those we
> shouldn't have to assess so much more, like dig into our funding for
> example.

it'll be intersting to see how--or even whether--ICANN changes
now that dyson has left (she promises to be its 'best critic'),
and now that cerf has taken her place. when dyson took the job,
she was, by her own admission, klewless when it came to ICANN's
purview; otoh, she was legendary for her ability to schmooze.
in contrast, cerf is about as klewful as they get--in certain
respects, at least. but now he's taking over an organization 
that's devoted more than two years to establishing itself as an 
institution (its internal structure and procedures, the contrac-
tual regime in which it functions, and all the complex social 
glue hold these two aspects together). it's doubtful that he'll
be able to force ICANN back within the precincts he thinks are
appropriate. if he continues to speak so sagely while overseeing
an ICANN that continues on its merry way, that'll be what dyson
did. it's not especially honest, to put it politely.

the notion that ICANN's expansive force derives from masses of
misinformed people pestering it to undertake efforts that lie
beyond its proper purview is complete horseshit. the I in ICANN
stands for Internet, an entity that, we've been told for the last
several years, will consume everything in its path: lay waste to
national borders, overturn economies, dissolve organizations and
social relations of every kind into some new 'transparent' mode,
etc., etc. to the extent that ICANN's principals have actively 
sought out a role as the 'technical coordinators' of this tech-
nical entity, they have embraced the role as arbiters of many
aspects of these transformations. and to the extent that their
success has depended on the ability to mobilize powerful consti-
tuencies with interests in these transformations, then all this
talk about 'merely' being a 'technical coordination body' is, for
the most part, bunk. they tell us endlessly that ICANN is a 'con-
sensus-based' organization. what they're less candid about is who
participates in this consensus: it's a very selective process,
and the resulting consensus is consequently biased. they're less
candid as well about how consensus is established; but the recent
lexical shift toward describing itself as a 'consensus-developing'
organization speaks volumes about how that process works--and, no
surprise, about the results of its work.

cerf did a decent job of picking his fights and sticking up for
a few things that he believes in during ICANN's discussions of
new TLDs. but, in balance, his efforts paled before the torrents
of sophomoric speculations that ultimately drove the board's 
decisions. and his performance in those few hours should be seen
in the context of the two years he's contributed to ICANN. he's
had ample opportunity to rein in the excesses he claims to mis-
trust, and his record to date is, in a word, pathetic. 

but here he is, like his predecessor dyson, talking off the rec-
ord about what ICANN should do, about how misunderstood it is,
about how it's just a technical bosy, etc... la plus ca change.
if he really does believe what he says, let's see him--as the new
chairman of the board--put a lid on ICANN's excesses. i'd be very
happy to be proven wrong, but if his last two years in the service
of ICANN are any indication of the future, there's little reason
to think that will happen.

in some informal interviews surrounding her departure, dyson 
made a lot of hay about how she fought for X and Y, but was 
always getting overruled. funny... the records of the board
list resolution after resolution that passed unanimously. don't
forget that cerf the sage was voting as well. so where, pray
tell, is the valiant record of his opposition to ICANN's over-
reaching? in the transcripts, it's better than dyson's--barely.


\|/ ____ \|/ 
@~/ oO \~@    <http://www.tbtf.com/roving_reporter/>
/_( \__/ )_\ 

Nettime-bold mailing list