« April 2002 | Main | June 2002 »

May 2002 Archives

May 6, 2002

No GA summaries, for the moment.

I'm currently lacking the time for more GA summaries. That is, you'll have to resort to the web archives and the mailing list itself if you want to stay up to date on GA discussions. Also, we've had some Slashdot coverage recently. Some may wish to call this an attempt to capture the GA's voting registry.

May 24, 2002

The GA Vote: Lies, damned lies, and numbers.

The DNSO's General Assembly has voted on two motions. The first one, calling for a re-bid (termed "open competition") of ICANN functions received 148 votes in favor, 54 against, and 15 abstentions. The second one, emphasizing core principles for ICANN evolution and reform, received 164 votes in favor, 33 against, and 19 abstentions.

What does all this mean? Most importantly, the GA voting registry's members (more precisely: 75% of those who decided to participate in the vote) insist in ICANN respecting the fundamental principles, including transparent process, broad input into policy-making, which must include meaningful individual and non-commercial participation, and accountability (including independent review of decisions) (quoted from motion two). Second, 67.9% of those who participated in the vote also seem to be close to giving up on the current reform process, and hope that an open competition aiminng to achieve comprehensive privatization and internationalization of DNS services, consistent with the need for stability, but also innovation, competition and freedom (quoted from motion one) could help.

That's all - there's not much more to this vote: It's not a statement of the DNSO constituencies' consensus. It's not binding to anyone, neither to the Names Council, nor to the board, nor to the DoC.

Now, what kind of news does that create on ICANNwatch? Editor Ted Byfield posts an item titled "DNSO GA Votes to Ask Commerce to Re-bid ICANN's Gig". In that item, he does not even mention that two motions existed. Now, that's Internet journalism at its best, don't you think?

CPTech's James Love, the proponent of the original "re-bid" motion, at least gives a full account of the facts in this message to his random-bits mailing list - if you look closely enough. Because, of course, the motion which drew less votes in favor (he ridiculously calls it the "nuclear option" - bad enough, it's a firecracker at best) is "the most important vote".

May 31, 2002

Are votes the right kind of tool for substantial statements of the GA?

Thinking a bit more about some of the recent discussions on the GA mailing list, I arrive at the conclusion that a considerable part of the problems we are experiencing is caused by the use of an inappropriate tool: Votes like we are using them right now are _not_ the tool we _should_ be using in order to make declarations of the intent of the members of the GA.

More precisely, a vote is an instrument by which some well-defined body comes up with a collective decision. The accountability for the outcome of the vote is collective; individual members are not held accountable for their individual votes. For this reason, votes are held in secret. In particular, a vote deliberately withholds a considerable amount of information from the public.

It is also bad to arbitrarily add new members to the voting registry for a particular vote: Suddenly, the body making the decision is no longer well-defined; the result of the vote ("body x says y") itself becomes ill-defined as a consequence.

Such votes are an appropriate tool when the GA actually acts as a homogeneous body, that is, when it elects a chairman or representatives to task forces, or when it votes on its internal procedures: Votes are appropriate whenever the question at hand is how the GA as a group of individuals can best organize its activities.

Votes are, however, not appropriate when GA statements are made on substance. There are several reasons for this.

Most importantly, the GA is _not_ acting as a homogeneous body when it comes to substantial topics: We are a mix of constituency members and interested individuals, of stakeholders and slashdotters. We may even want to take into account outside support for substantial statements (Jamie tried this; similarly, it may be interesting to shop for support for a uniform deletions policy or certain transfer policies at nsihorrorstories.com). What the resolutions discussed here are about is not a _decision_ within a homogeneous body, but a demonstration of support (and, possibly, objection!) from those who want to demonstrate that support (or objection).

For such a demonstration, the deliberate loss of information which is connected with the current voting mechanism is not desirable: An explicit list of supporters of a resolution makes a lot more sense than the apples-and-oranges statement that "the DNSO's GA has voted for xyz". In particular, it would include information on what members of different constituencies think - remember, the constituencies are what ultimately matters in the DNSO's process. In fact, I'd even go a step further than just making the voting process transparent: Let's get rid of the voting registry and the complex apparatus we are using altogether, as far as substantive resolutions are concerned (as opposed to questions of the internal organization of the GA).

So, here's my suggestion for how to deal with future resolutions: Just do a simple, open poll via e-mail. Spread the call for signatories widely. Include the members of the GA voting registry with it. Just collect signatures.

To summarize, the process suggested has the following benefits over the current approach:

  • The resulting statement is well-defined.
  • The process is transparent and can be implemented with considerably less effort than the voting process; in particular, the safeguards necessary to ensure the integrity of a secret vote are not needed here.
  • The very concept of capture does not make any sense, since it is reasonably transparent who does and says what. In particular, there is no voting registry to be stuffed.


ICANN reform comments and recommendations

I've submitted some comments on the mission and core values working paper to ICANN's Evolution & Reform committee: Quite a bit of what they are saying there just doesn't make sense. If you try to make sense out of it, you quickly see that the actual conflicts are hidden beyond rhetorics. Some more general comments are available here.

In related news, the Names Council has arrived at another iteration of its recommendations. I'm rather unhappy with some of these - in particular, I don't believe that the recommendation to restrict GA membership to constituency members is a good idea. (Nor is the Nominating Committee approach for board member selection.)

About May 2002

This page contains all entries posted to No Such Weblog in May 2002. They are listed from oldest to newest.

April 2002 is the previous archive.

June 2002 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered by
Movable Type 3.35