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C-F No. 6- Comments  
CivSoc of CPSR
Comments on 
Cyber-Federalist No. 6 --  Organizing The Icann Membership: Regional Forums

Hans Klein
Barbara Simons
Alexander Svensson 
Alf Hansen
Jonathan Weinberg

Hans Klein
Chair, CPSR (author of the Cyber-Federalist)

"How to Launch a Regional Forum"

The Cyber-Federalist No.6 argued that we need regional forums to organize the At Large membership.  Some people have inquired about how to proceed.  Here is my vision of how to launch a regional forum.

Launching a regional forum requires:
   a technology
   an administration
   a group of supporters
   a catalyst

The forum could consist of:
     an unmoderated list
     a moderated version of the same list
     web archive of both lists
 possibly a document archive

Ultimately, the forum might run from a domain name that belongs to no single organization (e.g.

Someone needs to host and maintain the lists.  The host should be technically competent and should not be seen as actively partisan in ICANN matters.

Someone also needs to moderate the list.  This is a sensitive position, and it takes time.
The person (or persons) should be reliable and should understand principles of moderation (filtering out NOISE, not OPINIONS with which they disagree.)

There might be a charter, such as that proposed for icann-europe.

Group of Supporters
Launching a list requires building an initial group of supporters.  In many regions, that initial group would probably include:
 current Board candidates
 leading policy intellectuals (individuals)
 heads of leading organizations (associations)
This might be 10-20 people.  If they can issue a joint declaration of support for a plan of technology and administration, then a forum can be launched.

The Catalyst
One or a few people might try to get this process going.  They can try to identify a hosting organization and perform outreach to an initial group of supporters. The catalyst serves as the facilitator for the launch process.

It helps if the person working as catalyst begins with the support of one or more recognized leaders in the region. 

Barbara Simons
Candidate, At Large Director for North America
21 September 200

Email can be overwhelming.  I'm a strong believer in communicating with people, especially people one is representing - which is why I created a special userid at ACM when I was president so that any member could easily reach me.  Since a relatively small number of people chose to use that userid, I was not overwhelmed, and I was able to respond to every email that I received.

However, ICANN seems to trigger *tons* of email, much of it repetitive and much of it vituperative.  The only way that I see any hope of a list working at all is if:

1.  There is a moderator who enforced the rules
2.  There is a strongly enforced net-etiquette that includes
      a.  no character assassination, trashing, or in-your-face talk
      b.  no "spamming", where I include discussions that involve
           primarily two or maybe a few people, "me too" postings, etc.
3.  When a new thread is started, if it generates a lot of discussion someone (most likely the original poster) quickly takes control and tells everyone to send all comments to him/her.  Then, after a reasonable period of time, either a summary or the entire discussion is posted to the list.

Incidentally, the systers email list operates under these rules.  It involves 2500 women around the world, and it has continued to exist for many years.  It still generates too many emails for my taste, but my guess is that it generates less than 1/10th the  number of emails generated by bwg.  (I'm guessing about 3 vs 30 emails per day, which I'd say is high for systers and low for bwg).

Otherwise, I can't imagine that anyone on the ICANN Board would follow the list.


Alexander Svensson
21 September 2000

Thanks for your efforts to bring the lists attention back to At Large intermediate institutions and for your  helpful differentiation between an At Large Forum (which icann-europe is, although a notice to all European Icann members would definitely be nice) and an At Large  Assembly:

> However, the process for creating such a body is itself difficult.  What
> representation mechanisms should be used?  How many members should there
> be? 

This is were we got stuck last time. :)
The problem of representation in such a European At Large Assembly would not be too different from  that of representation within Icann itself:

 -- choosing well-informed and committed people
 -- avoiding capture by subgroups and
 -- representing European diversity
 -- not having access to the ICANN voter registry
 -- probably not having the necessary ressources for 
    a voter registration drive similar to Icann's

You have paralleled the At Large Assembly to the Councils of the Supporting Organizations. If we pursued this, the  road ahead would be set out: The members of the At Large  Forum vote for the members of the At Large Assembly. Thus  it would be quite similar to the DNSO General Assembly --  with all its advantages and disadvantages.

I don't think we should (or could) decide all this in one and a half months. What we can do in any case is broadening the base of icann-europe, i.e. spreading the news that icann-europe exists: Remember that media attention will return to Icann on or before October 1st and then again on October 10th, so we might be able to seize that occasion.

We should at the very least have the list charter ready until then, maybe even some kind of statement to the public? I haven't heard any opposition to Thomas' draft at yet -- could it be that we have reached consensus already? :)

Best regards,
/// Alexander


Alf Hansen
At Large Candidate, European Region
September 21

I think your article is an excellent contribution! You put your finger on the ballance voters must do between the canidate's values and the ability to keep in touch whith the voters, and you describe the need for a self-organized "Forum", not an "Assembly" or "Council" for each region as a first step.

Jonathan Weinberg
21 Septembr 2000

   On creating formal intermediate institutions:  the DNSO GA
demonstrates that there are a lot of potential problems associated with
trying to create a formal institution that has no actual authority to do
anything, and serves merely as a debating society.  A simple discussion
forum can succeed only if the participants perceive it as having a
sufficiently high signal-to-noise ratio -- otherwise, they will sign off.

     An at-large assembly would be in a position to offer suggestions to
at-large Directors that the directors could take or leave.  It's not
clear, though, that that's enough to hold it together and give people an
incentive to participate.  That's especially true of a global assembly,
since at least some of the at-large directors will see their
responsibility as running to their region, not to any global body.  
Further, an "at-large forum" designed to be globally inclusive and a true
means of connecting 76,054 voters might not have especially high

     I'm not saying that we shouldn't try to create intermediate
institutions.  But we should remember that we can't create well-working
participatory institutions on the Net without giving people sufficient
incentive to participate.  Right now we have a window in which the
election can provide such an incentive for both candidates and voters
(and, in Europe, has done).  But in between elections, it may be hard to
sustain a structure in which those incentives exist.

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