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ICANN Meeting blog: Indecision and insults

Riddles, fiddles and diddles in British Columbia

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Vancouver According to my computer's calendar, I have been in Vancouver for three days. And according to a search on the Internet, I have written six stories about events at the ICANN conference here.

Which is all incredibly useful because on sitting down in the press room at the Westin Hotel, my horribly jet-lagged mind casually informed me of two conflicting facts: one, I had most likely only arrived today and had to write stories; and two, I had been in these diamond-wall-papered rooms for my entire life and I should get out and see what other people in the world get up to.

Without the Internet, how could I have known the reality of the situation? It's a good job this Internet thing is so smoothly and coherently run. Just imagine what a nightmare it would be if it was no more than a loose confederation of warring tribes sowing disinformation while attempting to bypass everyone else in their bid to create their own version of this revolutionary medium.

Bags of personality

It's an incredible eye-opener to be at such events in person. Despite the Internet making it possible for people to communicate and co-operate extremely effectively while thousands of miles apart, there remains the human condition. Tiredness being one element of course. But also personality. And the ICANN world is full of personalities. Leaders, pleaders, fixers, mixers, hippies, suits, anarchists, capitalists and loonies to name but a few.

The only thing that binds them is a passion for and about the Internet. Christ only knows how it works, but it does, despite many people's intense efforts otherwise.

Everyone knows exactly how best to run the Internet if only everyone else would listen to them. As a reporter, that's exactly what you do. And after eight hours of listening to highly intelligent, very coherent people give you 15 different perspectives on the same topic, you end up so exhausted with the mental churning that the temptation just to run with your gut feeling is almost overwhelming. That or to run screaming out the building to the nearest bar.

And it is in that vein that all the bad decisions made by the ICANN Board over the years (and there have been quite a few) suddenly make sense.

I spent yesterday (today? Wednesday?) following the ICANN Board around the conference as it went into separate constituency meetings to ask for their opinions on the pressing topics of the day. At this particular conference, that meant almost exclusively the proposed new dotcom contract with VeriSign.

The big message that the ICANN Board got was: we don't agree with you. The registrars didn't agree with the pricing, or, actually, with the whole agreement. The country-code managers didn't agree with how it had been done. The At Large committee didn't agree with the implications for the future. No one agreed with anything in fact. To the extent that if the Board actually walked into a meeting and found everyone there agreeing with them, they'd immediately smell a rat.

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