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[atlarge-discuss] Re: [icann-alsg] Organizational considerations

Thanks for this intelligent analysis Ron. You understand the need for TWO
interfaces and you recognise the scale of the organisation which could grow
out of all our efforts. In short, you have the vision to 'sense' where this
needs to go.

I don't entirely agree with your analysis but I think you've got very close
to the heart of the TWO challenges that face us.

As you say, we should make every effort to retain our interface with ICANN
(including particpation in its "At Large" initiatives) because the general
public we seek to represent have a RIGHT to a central influence in ICANN,
even as it's composed now.

Where I differ in tone from you, I think, is that I think we should be
unrelentingly "tough" and "realistic" on ICANN. I do NOT believe we should
try to "appease" them or keep them sweet. I do NOT believe we should ever
accept their spurious assumption that THEY are the ones who should decide
how things are done. Nevertheless, we should travel with them and tuck in
close to their own initiatives, because (if we represent members of the
general public) we have a right to be there, in every discussion, at every

My perception may differ from yours in emphasis, because I regard ICANN as
corrupt - partly because of their cynicism and closed retention of power;
and partly because of their opaque 'insider' dealings and governance. I view
them as discredited, and not people I would trust with anything, let alone
the administration of OUR worldwide resource. They will divide and rule;
they will change rules to hold onto power; they will obfuscate and wriggle
and to whatever is needed to block true democratic accountability.

Where I agree with you is over the need to deploy members who have technical
expertise and familiarity with ICANN procedure to handle the "ICANN
Interface" intelligently. But they must not be appeasers. I will be honest.
They disgust me. I don't like the fact that our organisation has to do
business with them. It's a bit like having to sustain diplomatic relations
with a corrupt national dictatorship. They have proven themselves again and
again to be unworthy of trust.

Personally I believe ICANN furthers its own interests by using "blurring"
and "lack of clarity" as a device. Even terms like "consensus" - good values
in themselves - are used to divert initiatives in directions that uphold
their self-perpetuating clique. So when Denise Michel tries to create
"consensus" we can "play along with that" if necessary, but bear in mind
that what it really means is 'divide and rule', splitting up public
representation into a multiplicity of fragmented parts, and steering the
whole momentum AWAY from publicly elected representatives.

I think that with the corrupt or the cynical, you should use openness and
honesty and blunt hardness - you should say exactly what you think, and not
tiptoe around people with intricate subtle diplomatic niceties. Treat these
people hard and clear - and let them know exactly where you stand...
demanding the elected representation of the general public at the heart of

So yes Ron - I agree with you that we should actively maintain (and demand)
a working interface with ICANN.... and we should be professional about that,
and know their procedures and power-bases inside out... but we should not
placate or worry about upsetting them. It is OUR agenda we are embarked
upon, not THEIRS.

And then secondly Ron - and I think you have voiced this as well as almost
anyone - there is the SECOND interface... with the general public, our true
constituency, and our real future. We already have moral authority for the
argument that internet users should be represented at the heart of internet
administration. By growing numerically into a huge popular movement, we will
add the strongest argument to turn moral authority into political reality.

I absolutely agree with your analysis (and Eric's I think) that we need to
recognise MARKETING as vital. Not marketing in terms of large financial
investment, but marketing in terms of popularising our movement, explaining
it in terms that ordinary people understand and care about, and drawing
together broader aspects of internet democracy and what can be achieved by

If we remain "icannatlarge.com", an obscure splinter group that talks in
ICANN-speak about the labyrinthine politics of ICANN and the technical
jargon of its (frankly very boring) mission.... then we will remain a tiny
rump, and ICANN will just marginalise it down some abandoned corridor of
power... with one "voice" among scores of others, all leading to maybe one
nomination by the nomination committee (who will carefully not select who
they fear) and that one nomination will be overwhelmed anyway by all the
other "industry insiders" who are chosen to uphold the power base and vested
interests of those in control. Even our name will seem weird and marginal.
And millions of people will simply NOT be interested in us.

What is needed, as you correctly identify, is to draw together a group of
people whose strength is communication and psychology, and to use that group
to package a clear name, a clear slogan, a clear message, a clear mission...
to steer away from isolated geek-speak and icann politics... and to
popularise the cause of internet democracy (one aspect of which is the
administration of the DNS)... my diagnosis is: outreach or extinction.

So thank you Ron, for your insight and your sharpness. You have looked at
the eddying messages and comments, and you have been able to see the big
picture in my opinion.

Kind regards

Richard Henderson
----- Original Message -----
From: Ron Sherwood <sherwood@islands.vi>
To: <icann-alsg@lists.fitug.de>
Cc: Sotiris Sotiropoulos <sotiris@hermesnetwork.com>; Vittorio Bertola
Sent: Saturday, May 04, 2002 2:42 AM
Subject: [icann-alsg] Organizational considerations


It seems to me that icannatlarge, based upon all that I have read over these
past few weeks, really is an entity that must have two faces

Thus, the one face must be what ICANN sees and expects of us and must speak
the arcane language of ICANN, replete with its technical jargon and alphabet
soup of acronyms. The core of our organization must therefore include those
hardy souls who have spent much time wrestling with the ICANN / at-Large
relationship, and who have so much inside knowledge and experience in ICANN
related issues.

 The other face must be one that appeals to the good people that we must
recruit to the cause, and whose interests we must represent in order to gain
their support.  These ... to the greater extent, will be the Internet using
... This face must, therefore, speak the languages of the many, and avoid
the acronyms and technical terminology that that will alienate the essential
interest that will keep them involved...

...the important fact that to be a viable organization, with the clout that
we need, we have to include the marketing and PR skills necessary to attract
and retain a large general membership. A major (Second priority?) task is to
rapidly and exponentially grow the membership and the interpretive skills
(tech jargon to plain language) needed to communicate with the general
membership will be an important requirement.

 ...The name could be representative of its mission (for example only: the
Internet Democracy Project, or some such) and would include in its public
image the imperative link to ICANN.  For example, the letterhead, logo
webpage header, etc. could include on the top left the great "ICANN @ Large
logo" that Sotiris designed, and the organization name and logo, equal in
size and prominence, at the top right

Ron Sherwood

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