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Rome wasn't built in a day

  • To: <alac-final-2008@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: Rome wasn't built in a day
  • From: "Olivier MJ Crepin-Leblond" <ocl@xxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 12 Sep 2008 15:50:59 +0200

I have read the latest (& final) version of the Independent Review of the
At-Large Advisory Committee prepared by Westlake Consulting Limited with
great interest, not only as a concerned Internet End-User, but also as
someone who has already written comments w.r.t. the interim report that was
written by the above firm.

Bearing in mind my position has not changed, I shall reduce the myrth in my
message to a minimum and try to maximise the matter.

Communication Tools

"7.8 Policy Comment
Use of multi-lingual *Wikis* for Participation by the community in the
development of policy positions"
I disagree with this suggestion as the *only* channel for communication.

WCL's report fails to consider other Web-based channels such as
online newsgroups, forums etc. that do not require knowledge of markup
language like Wiki does. The quality of Internet connectivity in some
parts of the world, is not reliable enough to use Wiki. Through
speaking with several people associated with the ALAC process, I
also found out that only a few knew how to edit/create a Wiki page.

I would therefore suggest that a comprehensive study of current Web 2.0
collaboration, archiving & discussion tools be undertaken with the purpose
of implementing new (additional) communication channels whilst email
channels are still kept open:
- teleconferencing;
- document sharing;
- threaded news;
- the more extensive use of multi-media, such as:
  - a video archive that is searchable, indexed and threaded
  - archiving of SMS communication / SMS-Internet gateway
     (for archiving of SMS communication  in Africa as described in
      WCL's report (Section 7.14.2).

The study might even include benchmarking another similar member
organisation specialising in bottom-up participation. Why re-invent
the wheel when it *might* already be in use somewhere else?

Communication lies at the heart of the ALAC's success. This could be
enhanced by more widespread use of tools encouraging remote participation.

Is the ALAC working?

I can understand the ALAC being under criticism for not achieving much
of its intended goal. However, as the WCL report so eloquently explains
in several ways, "the Interim ALAC had focused more on institution building,
rather than policy coordination and outreach activities".
ALAC 1.0 is only now starting to mature.

With no clear-cut uniform stakeholders, the ALAC is, by its diversity,
possibly the most complex of all Constituencies and therefore the most
challenging to structure. "Ab urbe condita", Rome wasn't built in a day.
A working ALAC neither. I would therefore hope that more time be
given for it to evolve and grow, *according to the recommendations of
the WCL report* until the next review.

The work that has been achieved to far for "ALAC 1.0" has been impressive
and is very encouraging. A lot of individuals have really gone out of their way,
worked extraordinarily hard, and can be very proud for having reached this
point through concensus. Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater
when it's just about to start walking.

Olivier MJ Crepin-Leblond, Ph.D.
E-mail:<ocl@xxxxxxx> | http://www.gih.com/ocl.html

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