I've just been nominated to the board of ICANN (Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers) and will be officially joining already seated members at the conclusion of the ICANN Meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, December 1-5. ("Nominated" technically because I officially join in December, but the selection process is completed.)

This is the end of a two or so year process of people telling me I should get involved and others warning me against it. Some of my wisest advisors urged me not to join saying things like, "you will make 3 mistakes in your life... this is one of them..." or "friends don't let friends do ICANN."

ICANN has its share of problems and a negative image associated with it in many circles. I've even taken my fare share of cheap shots at ICANN.

I am joining ICANN for two reasons. ICANN is changing and it's critical that ICANN is successful.

I've talked to on the phone and met a great number of people involved in ICANN in a variety of capacities. I realized that ICANN today is not what ICANN was a few years ago. Please reset your biases and pay attention to what they are doing. Yes. There are still problems, but they are being addressed by an extremely committed team of people who are doing amazing work. Also, take a look at the board. It's very geographically and professionally diverse. It's not some puppet of the US or special interests.

Why is ICANN important? If ICANN is not successful in proving that it can manage some of the critical elements of the Internet such as the name space and IP addresses, ICANN will be dissolved and the ITU will step in. Why would that be bad? I am generally in favor of multi-lateral approaches, but in the case of the ITU, I believe it is biased towards the telephone monopolies. The ITU was built by telcos to set technical standards for telcos. That suits the telephone system architecture, which is highly centralised and is structured as a patchwork of geographic monopolies. The Internet is decentralised, and there are many small companies and individuals working at the peripheries to develop new applications for the overall network. The governance process has to reflect the diversity and the needs of these companies, as well as the needs of the network providers.

I believe that many of the things that ICANN is doing are important, but the single biggest factor leading to my decision to try to participate in ICANN is to try to prove that the people of the Internet can govern themselves without direct involvement from nation-states and to try to help build an organization that can deliver that promise.

The official press release is on the ICANN site. For more information on the nomination process, please see the NomCom page.

31 Comments

Good luck. You'll need it.

ICANN still doesn't listen. It's still dirigiste. It still fails the most basic tests such as following its own rules (e.g. posting minutes), still has secret meetings (why can't all Board meetings be webcast? or at least recorded and then webcast?), and still refuses to post things on its website unless they are either laudatory or writs (I can provide multiple examples, including recent ones -- such as the report of its own UDRP committe that it was sent months ago but which failed to toe the party line.

From reading your blog for a year, I think you will be a positive force. But understand that you are outnumbered and outgunned and outresourced. And some of the very nicest people in person -- great fun to have a drink with -- are a big part of the problem....

Thanks for the tips Michael. I'm going to be soliciting a lot of input since I'm quite an ICANN newbie. I'll try to report as much as I can on my progress and try to integrate as much of the good advice of people give me in my position as possible.

I'll echo Michael's "good luck; you'll need it" sentiment, and suggest that in terms of getting up to speed quickly on areas in which ICANN is dysfunctional, one of the best people with whom you could choose to communicate would be Karl Auerbach (former at-large representative for Canada and the US). Karl has kept up to date on ICANN's issues even after parting company with them, and can fill you in quickly on what to watch out for.

Congratulations... I think...

This is good news for the Net community. Congratulations.

Here's another echo of the "good luck, you'll need it" theme, from another current ICANN participant. I'm looking forward to seeing ICANN meetings blogged on your site, from a board point of view.

Give 'em hell, Joi. Our arguments over the years that ICANN should change are meaningless if we aren't willing to jump into the process and help facilitate. Big thanks for putting your time and energy on the line.

This is great news. ICANN needs you. Congratulations.

Bret

Congrats, Joi. Ummm.... good luck... :)

Congratulations. The best way to improve something flawed but worthwhile is by getting involved, rather than sniping from a distance. Best of luck.

Joi, I'll second the Auerbach recommendation. While I didn't agree with every vote he cast, he faithfuly and consistently represented the interests of his constituency, and publicly gave good reasons for every vote he cast.

It was a pity (though inevitable) that most of the rest of the ICANN board (and the staff) fought him at every step of the way, even to disclosure of records that should be public according to the laws ICANN was chartered under.

There really isn't any good reason for ICANN *not* to disclose just about everything, except for reflexive secrecy and/or hiding where the bodies are buried. After several years, 'reflexive secrecy' no longer seems like a viable explanation.

Here is a simple question: "Where did the money go and why?"

Personally, I won't really trust the current organization until they clean house, answer that question, make the information public, and implement safeguards to prevent re-occurences.

Good luck, and keep us all posted as to what you dig up and find out.


Your first writing on ICANN is very revealing. Read what you
have written. ICANN is all about central control. ICANN is about
as non-Internet as one can get. You are now part of the problem.
You have gravitated to the center, not the edge. The ISOC will
suck any brain cells you have left out, via your eye sockets.
You will not feel a thing.

With respect to the ITU, your view is very naive. U.S. telcos
laugh at the ITU. U.S. telcos follow the Internet model.
They are decentralized and compete.

The ITU was not built by telcos[1]. The ITU was built by Swiss
economic control freaks. They prey on third-world countries via
their communication infrastructure which is often run by a
local corrupt regime that the ITU politely winks at and collects
funds from. The U.S. telcos would never play in the corrupt
ITU game.

ICANN and the ITU are very similar. The ISOC and ICANN can not
wait to all get their Swiss chalets and sit on their mountains
pulling strings around the world. U.S. telcos are based in the
U.S. They do not aspire to the central Swiss control regime.
You appear to aspire to that, and it should be no surprise that
you have found your way to ICANN. Have fun.

[1] "The ITU was built by telcos to set technical standards for telcos. That suits the telephone system architecture, which is highly centralised and is structured as a patchwork of geographic monopolies."

"is it a TLD? " : Are you suggesting that the ITU wouldn't step in if ICANN were dissolved? Can you suggest an alternative? Are you suggesting that the US telcos would step in and come up with a more fair and distributed method of managing all of this?

... because youCANN?

I have no advice (sorry!), but would encourage you to place everything you find useful as background to ICANN on the wiki. I see it already has three links and hope that more people will add to it. I am working with a number of initiatives and projects in Africa and there is tremendous need for such a resource.

As often, wikipedia is a good starting point http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ICANN - but I would hope to see more "opinion" on your wiki.

Any improvement in ICANN's transparency puts a smile
on my face. They certainly do need you. And names
are of fundamental imporance... congrats.

Congrats Joi,

Before getting involved in what I am doing now I was involved in the domain name industry from 1995 to 2002, working for 3 registrars, taking part in the meetings that were the precursor to ICANN, seeing ICANN created, seeing ICANN do it's head in the sand routine etc.

Definately to second some of the things already said here:

Learn from Karl Auerbach's experiences, he had great intentions but failed in a lot of regards as he didn't work inside ICANN and fought too many battles.

Get to know the other board members, they all represent very different constituancies and have different views on where Internet Governence should go.

You are right that it is not all about US government control and some things have changed in the past couple of years, but there is a lot of pressure on ICANN from Governments all around the world: Don't forget that Dr. Twomey got to be ICANN President after chairing the Government Advisory Committee for most of it's existance.

One thing ICANN needs to do better is meet the deadlines it set's itself: a lot of the frustration with ICANN is that at meetings they promise documents and/or processes by a certain date but never come through on that promise.

Good luck, and pick your battles carefully.

Congratulations and best wishes for this, Joi, I hope you can bring a new perspective to ICANN. The important thing now is to govern honestly, transparently, representatively and to the best of the board's ability, rather than getting involved in ideological battles or turf wars.


One example of how the Evil ISOC operates.

IPv9 uses the 49th bit. The ISOC sends their thugs Fred Baker
and Steve Bellovin to destroy that[1]. ICANN has no ability or
interest in understanding technical details. The thugs do their
work and Vinton Cerf laughs all the way to the bank. The clueless
ICANN Board sits around asking "what ?" "what ?" "what happened ?".
Vinton Cerf gives a video taped interview telling people that
he thinks people should be "publicly flogged". Your chairman is
a monster, up there with Saddam and Fidel. You can not reform
a monster.

[1] http://www.merit.edu/mail.archives/nanog/msg01785.html

"From an ISP perspective, I would think that it would be of value to offer *not* ingress filtering (whether by ACL or by uRPF) as a service that a customer pays for. Steve Bellovin wrote an April Fool's note suggesting an "Evil Bit" (ftp://ftp.rfc-editor.org/in-notes/rfc3514.txt); I actually think that's not such a dumb idea if implemented as a "Not Evil" flag, using a DSCP or extending the RFC 3168 codes to include such, as Steve Crocker has been suggesting. Basically, a customer gets ingress filtered (by whatever means) and certain DSCP settings are treated as "someone not proven to have their act together". Should a ddos happen, such traffic is dumped first. But if the customer pays extra, their traffic is marked "not evil", protected by the above, and ingress filtering may be on or off according to the relevant agreement. The agreement would need to include a provision to the effect that once a ddos is traced in part to the customer, their traffic is marked as "evil" for a period of time afterwards. What the customer is paying for, if you will, is the ability to do their thing during a ddos in a remote part of the network, such as delivering a service to a remote peer."


Via your Wiki and Bruce Sterling's Site comes this view
which 99% of the ICANN Board likely do not understand.

"wars will be fought over real estate just like they have throughout history"

Posted by: Bryan Ford at October 3, 2004 10:10 AM

I hate to get technical in this kind of thread, but hierarchical governance is an inevitable consequence of the current technical architecture of of the Internet. As long as IP addresses (the fundamental unit of space in the Internet) are a fixed number of bits long, there is a fixed sized pie that will have to be divided among all the stakeholders according to some rules, and some organizational structure that decides which groups get big slices and which groups get little slices.

The fixed-size address was a technically expedient but politico-socially unwise decision made ten years ago when the IETF determined the nature of the IPv6 protocol. IPv6 addresses are 128 bits long, an unimaginably large space, but one that remains vulnerable to the same kind of bureaucratic mismanagement that allows a single company (which I won't name) to hoard nearly a full percent of the current IPv4 address space, and not give it up to desperate needs of other parts of the world, because there's no organization with any power to make them bother to, or any free market that would make it profitable for them to sell or lease portions of their allocation.

In cyberspace, names and addresses are the geography, and wars will be fought over real estate just like they have throughout history. There are alternative addressing models that are both decentralized and unlimited in scalability, such as geographical addressing or rootless relative hierarchical addresses but they require more complicated router designs, so that not only is it easier to fight than switch, it's cheaper. And given humans' apparent hardwired propensity towards violence, more fun, too.

Despite certain singularitans' devout wishes that cyberspace become fully autonomous from physical space, it ain't gonna happen. Wars that cannot be resolved in cyberspace will spill over into physical space, and as we have already seen, vice versa. Unless the terrorists actually win and civilization as we know it falls into a dark age, nation-states will retain their monopolies on large-scale violence, and nation-oriented organizations like the bumbling U.N. and the somewhat-more-efficient ITU will not be superseded by grassroots, egalitarian structures.
Posted by: Alton Naur at October 3, 2004 03:27 PM

ICANN wants a war ? they will get a war


Apply the "KKK Test" While on the ICANN Board

While on the ICANN Board, imagine the public looking in and
replace the letters ICANN with KKK and then read "the spin".

Ask yourself, would you join the KKK because it is being reformed ?

Do you think adding black members to the KKK will change it ?

Do you think balancing gender will make the KKK more civil ?

What is the public benefit of the KKK and KKK Board Members ?


http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/07/06/ipv9_hype_dismissed/

"Vint Cerf, SVP of technology strategy at MCI, and one of chief architects of the modern Internet, was bewildered by the reports. In an email sent to senior figures in the Chinese Internet community, he asked: "What could this possibly be about? As far as I know, IANA [Internet Assigned Numbers Authority] has not allocated the IPv9 designation to anyone. IPv9 is not an Internet standard. Could you please explain what is intended here? I am disturbed by the reference to root servers, 'control'. What is the 'ten digit text file' all about? Who is behind the Shanghai Jiuyao Digital Network Company?"


Watch and Listen as the ICANN Dictator Orders Public Floggings

http://techupdate.zdnet.com/special_report/Vint_Cerf.html

"He also talks about his role as a steward for the Internet and answers the question of "who should run the Internet.""

Lots of ICANN-bashing around here, it seems.
IMHO, their critics seem to overestimate ICANN's importance


If IP address scarcity was really an issue of pressing social, political or economic concern, then the people who are currently disadvantaged from an IPv4 address allocation point of view would migrate wholesale to IPv6. It's not as if, for example, the Chinese government couldn't exert significant influence on the architecture of the Chinese Internet, promoting e.g. its migration to the IPv6 address space, where address "scarcity" is basically a non-existent notion.


As for domain names and TLD control, within a nation-state's geographical borders, it's entirely feasible for a government to force the ISPs operating locally to override the global IP routing schemes, so that their clients — sometimes unknowingly — use government-sanctioned "root" name servers. There is little ICANN can do about it. As for the ability of a government, say China's, to try to alter, say, an Argentinian web surfer's root name servers, such an ability has never existed, and ICANN is as powerless as the Chinese to dictate, say, the Argentinian government's policies as far as which DNS data will be deemed acceptable in Argentina.


The technical definition of the actual protocols used on the Internet and on private IP networks, VPNs, Intranets etc. is directed more by the IETF than by ICANN. IETF's work, in turn, is influenced more by industry groups, telecom and IT companies — e.g. the W3C, Cisco, Juniper, Nokia, NTT, Microsoft etc. — than ICANN.



If it's something that you want, and you have thought about the pros and cons, then congratulations, and I hope you do well.

As someone who has been waiting for over ten years for the addition of a new TLD. I was the individual who proposed .Web in 1995, worked through the IAHC, the Green Paper, the White Paper, ICANN's formation, the IFWP, paid ICANN $50,000 to formally apply, and had my pioneering work lied about and dismissed, and almost given away to other applicants.

May I presume that you've been told the story?

It is now almost ten years since .Web was first proposed. I've been working within the ICANN system since its inception, and even chaired a number of working groups to help in its formation. Like all other applicants in 2000 who were not approved, I still wait to compete, in a market that has artificial scarcity imposed upon it.

I encourage you to make yourself aware of how this process has been handled to date, and implore you to help create a system of objective criteria, fair play, and open competition.

I've waited ten years to compete, and I'm still here. If there's anything I can do to help, please ask.

Christopher Ambler
Image Online Design, Inc.
The .Web Internet Domain Registry
chris@ambler.net
http://onthenet.ambler.net

"Yes" writes:


One example of how the Evil ISOC operates.


IPv9 uses the 49th bit. The ISOC sends their thugs Fred Baker
and Steve Bellovin to destroy that[1].


[1] http://www.merit.edu/mail.archives/nanog/msg01785.html


IPv9 is TUBA, TCP under Big Addresses (ie, OSI), which was one of the competing standards for IPng. It is moribund. The Chinese-promoted "IPv9" which was referenced in this NANOG posting was later exposed to be marketing-run-amok; there is no such non-interoperable IP protocol development in play in China at this time so far as anyone can tell.


There are plenty of real things to complain about; we don't need to make up fake ones.


--RS

You asked three questions.

"Are you suggesting that the ITU wouldn't step in if ICANN were dissolved?"

"Can you suggest an alternative?"

"Are you suggesting that the US telcos would step in and come up with a more fair and distributed method of managing all of this?"
=====

ICANN will not be dissolved as long as there is a revenue stream
from the Registrars and attorneys like Joe Simms to absorb that
revenue. The ICANN Staff and Board are just spectators. Joe is
laughing all the way to the bank.

There is no "alternative" needed because ICANN is not needed and
has no more significant duties to perform. The legacy root
servers are no longer needed. They have been any-casted to a
point where each end user can run a cluster of them as an
alias. ISPs simply alias the 13 root server addresses to their
local DNS server, which has their selection of TLDs.

As for as U.S. telcos stepping in or the ITU you have stated
elsewhere that you believe "ICANN is changing". ICANN is not
changing, they are stuck in time. The marketplace is changing.
You now see TLDs being opening developed by large companies.
CISCO has taken .LAN. It is hard-wired into their products.
ICANN could never roll that one out. Paul Vixie has taken the
.BIND TLD, it is hard-wired into his DNS code. The .WEB TLD
is now being reworked by open-source wireless router developers.
If you have a Linux workstation, you are urged to buy a
CISCO WRT-54G and build a new firmware upgrade for it.
http://www.OpenWRT.org will make it painless. Look at the
DNSMASQ configs once you SSH into the router. The router is $50.
Each home user gets one for FREE, with the .WEB package of
services. No ICANN approval is needed to sell to the market.

The U.S. telco transport is now ubiquitous and the ISOC thugs
can no longer strong-arm ISPs with black-hole routing tricks
and other threats. That is how they forced their DNS software
and content down ISP's throats in the 90's. ICANN policies are
based on their reliance that the ISOC will provide the "muscle"
to twist ISP's arms. The always-on, broad-band, user in the
U.S. can no longer be coerced. The ISOC is of course turning to
the U.S. Military (DOD) to adopt IPv6 and force that down
everyone's throats. People were prepared for that move and
have the needed defense equipment to protect themselves.

"is a TLD ?" wrote @12:
They prey on third-world countries via their communication infrastructure which is often run by a local corrupt regime that the ITU politely winks at and collects funds from. The U.S. telcos would never play in the corrupt ITU game.

A typically blinkered and parochial "the US is better" view held by some Americans who actually believe their own propaganda.

One serious issue with the Internet — and that is unlikely to be addressable by rather informal groups like the ICANN — is the unfair way in which the financial burden to interconnect international backbones to US ISPs is shared. A US ISP would generally say: please pay for the *full* international circuit to New York — e.g. submarine cable, — and then pay through the nose to interconnect with us as a *client*, not as a peer, at an Internet Exchange point at, say, 155 or 622 Mbps. Even though the IP traffic is likely to flow both ways, the US ISPs are basically getting a free ride on the international links financed e.g. by European, Asian, African or Oceanian ISPs.

Of course, when the table is turned and the US telcos interconnect with the voice network of some other country, they'd say: we will *not* pay your standard international call termination charges. We will pay what *we* see is an appropriate amount, even though the voice traffic will travel through *your* infrastructure. When voice traffic migrates to VoIP, we will pay you *nothing*, and *you* will have to pay us ISP interconnect charges to carry the VoIP traffic.

The absence of a decent inter-ISP financial settlement mechanism is also germane to today's absence of an end-to-end channel to collect e.g. content-based revenue when the traffic must cross inter-ISP boundaries.
IMHO, it's about time telcos and ISPs gave a serious thought on migrating to a higher level of economic value added than providing mere connectivity or IP routing. This would have much more impact on the Internet's evolution than, say, the addition of some fancy new TLD to the global DNS. Is it that significant that a newly created TLD, say, ".web" would allow someone to gain visibility as, say, "mostlyvowels.web" because somebody had already taken "mostlyvowels.com" ? The addition of a handful of new TLDs hardly addresses the brand name collision problem, which basically also exists in the real world: a brand that was established earlier, or in a more visible fashion, wins. Nihil nove sub sole.

"One serious issue with the Internet — and that is unlikely to be addressable by rather informal groups like the ICANN — is the unfair way in which the financial burden to interconnect international backbones to US ISPs is shared."
===

Telecom 101:

The U.S. is an island. The U.S. is "The Big Island".
Bandwidth is expensive. Copper and fibers are expensive
to maintain. Wireless has to obey the laws of physics.
Packets full of extra, unused bits are expensive.
The laws of physics can not be changed to move some
land masses closer to The Big Island.

The Big Island has several smaller islands where
people move (co-locate) to have more (cheaper) bandwidth.
Property values go up on those smaller islands.
New services are developed to serve the growing
populations that move to those smaller islands on
The Big Island. The rest of the planet will never be
able to use those services. They can not change the
laws of physics.

Island wrote @28:
Telecom 101:
The U.S. is an island. [..] The laws of physics can not be changed to move some land masses closer to The Big Island

Business 101: International data and voice circuits were traditionally established, by the telcos on each end, on a cost- and revenue-sharing basis, with well-defined responsibility demarkation points, financial settlement and service level agreements for each "half"-circuit.

Telecom 102:
It takes two "half"-circuits to make one "full" international circuit.

MostlyVowels @ October 14, 2004 03:23 AM wrote:

Business 101: International data and voice circuits were traditionally established, by the telcos on each end, on a cost- and revenue-sharing basis, with well-defined responsibility demarkation points, financial settlement and service level agreements for each "half"-circuit.
Telecom 102:
It takes two "half"-circuits to make one "full" international circuit.

Yes, all is true, but the cost is NOT and was NOT "half" price for "half"-circuit.
I have been involved in setting up first international NSFNET extensions in 1990 from that side of Atlantic, still have papers and figures from that era.

But I am not trying to say that the non-US telcos were good guys.

NB. Congratulations Joi Ito, you will have a lot of work to do, and you will need help to do it.

Internet governance has an ugly recent history. Joi, please edit that page and help improve it.

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