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    Highlights of the ICANNWatch Archive
    (June 1999 - March 2001)

    The Big Picture Thinking Ahead
    posted by michael on Wednesday May 15 2002, @04:37PM

    Inundated as we are by mailing lists in ICANN's divide-and-conquer universe, it is hard to imagine signing on to Yet Another ICANN-Related Mailing List, especially one with a hideous name like Canwereplaceicann. But maybe this one is worth it.

    ICANN's strongest argument for its continued existence has increasingly become the (alleged) absence of a creditable alternative. For better or worse, it was an argument which until recently had a lot of traction. This new list, established by Jamie Love, of the Consumer Project on Technology (CPTech), will be devoted to discussing the shape of ICANN 2.0 (or, maybe a set of devolved ICANNs).

    As the list homepage puts it,
    This is a list to discuss possible replacements for ICANN, an organization that appears to be out of control. There is now a good deal of concern about the current direction of ICANN, particularly in light of the Lynn proposal and the various documents published by the "Committee on ICANN Reform and Evolution," but there needs to be more work on what might replace ICANN. This is a list to discuss these issues. What should replace ICANN?
    Politically and practically, this is the issue.

    It took the Lynn plan to put alternatives to ICANN back on the table. If ICANN was as bankrupt both practically and financially as its own CEO said, people all over the world started saying that maybe it was time go back to the drawing board. Many of these thoughts, mostly of the thin-ICANN or decentralized-ICANN variety, have been presented to the Reform Committee in formal or informal ways. But it is increasingly clear that the Reform Committee is not very interested in them. The papers emanating from the Reform Committee lean strongly in the direction of a thick, powerful, ICANN with only a fig-leaf of end-user control. And although the ratios of Board membership are not yet public, it is already pretty likely that the defining spirit of today's ICANN will be preserved-- keep the insiders (ICANN calls them stakeholders, such a lovely word) in control, keep the public in a subordinate role.

    The idea that ICANN's incompetence should be rewarded with more power, more money, and less adult supervision, would be laughable were it not being pursued with such vigor by ICANN staff members who otherwise face the prospect of seeking new employment at an inopportune moment in the business cycle. But then there's that old, 'what else is there' argument.

    Thus, the new, albeit not euphonious, list.

    That said, I wonder if this is exactly the right tool. A mailing list is a good tool for debates, but there's already a sort of consensus shaping up out here, on principles if not details. And a mailing list is not such a good tool for complex drafting, as it is not a tool well suited to longer documents. At some point, drafting will be needed. And I have an even bigger worry that the sort of dedicated ICANNWatchers whose input one would most want may now be in the terminal stages of mailing list fatigue. Nevertheless, I'm going to subscribe.

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