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Cerf seeks acolytes to carry the ICANN torch

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Internet legend and ICANN Chairman Vint Cerf is finally hanging up his spurs, according to ICANN’s website.

ICANN posted a video interview with Cerf on its website, as well as on YouTube and Google video. The interview is a swansong of sorts – both a paean to his tenure as chairman, and a plea for others to take up the mantle of internet evangelist.

Cerf’s Chairmanship ends in November, and the Nomcom – that’s ICANN-speak for nominating committee – is seeking candidates for a variety of important positions. The application deadline for the current positions is May 18, 2007, and Cerf said the organization is seeking people with "a passion for the Internet".

Many people have no idea just what ICANN does – it sets the technical standards for the internet, and is the closest thing to a government the internet has. Even fewer understand the open nature of ICANN participation. How do you apply for a position? Just fill out the app on the ICANN website.

Of course, ICANN’s work touches on many areas that are not strictly about hardwiring the web, so even non-geeks may apply. What ICANN really needs anyway is some old-fashioned financial management to make the unwieldy organization somewhat more nimble.

Cerf notes that "responsibility for making policy has become increasingly important because of the economic impact and because of political implications."

"If I were looking forward, wondering what kind of people I would want to see serving," he said, "I would look for people who are sincere in their ability to participate — really are prepared to spend the time that is needed — and who have clear understanding of the functions of ICANN and understand what the limitations are."

Cerf also acknowledged the artificial nature of the internet, and of ICANN itself - a fact which makes ICANN rather unlike other governmental or quasi-governmental structures. "ICANN is a creation, it's an invention that I don't believe is mirrored by many other structures in the world... We are inventing new kinds of practices for the establishment of policy."

As Cerf puts it, "If you really care about how the Internet evolves, then you want to be a part of this apparatus... Your views and perspectives won't be heard unless you participate. An individual can make a difference." ®

Burke Hansen, attorney at large, heads a San Francisco law office.

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