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Comments -- Individual user participation in ICANN and GNSO

  • To: gnso-users@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: Comments -- Individual user participation in ICANN and GNSO
  • From: "Mike O'Connor" <mike@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 27 Nov 2008 10:02:51 -0600

Hi all,

I'm a member of the business wing of the Business Constituency. I have puzzled about the question you've posed for several weeks and have concluded that better minds than mine will develop the answer. But I would like to offer several humble suggestions that might make that structure more robust as it is implemented.

** Provide a clear "value proposition" for prospective participants **

I think it would be helpful if we made it clear what individual users would get in return for their participation. After all, it's quite expensive (both in time and money) to participate in ICANN. It's my bet that most individual users look at that $5-20k/year commitment and, in the absence of a compelling answer to the question "what's in it for me?", conclude that their resources could be better directed elsewhere.

** Provide clear paths to meaningful participation **

ICANN is a bewildering group to join and not very welcoming for the newcomer. A new person who's attending their first ICANN meeting is likely to be very lonely and probably won't find it easy to link up with a cohort group of new-entrants (or experienced ICANN mentors) who are able or willing to provide encouragement. As a person attends subsequent meetings, they're likely to discover that we are a very clubby group and that it's hard to break into the inner circle. Perhaps one path to easing individual users into that club is through the new working-group process (or some adjunct/advisory arm of it). Even simple things (like color-coded badges for newcomers and people-willing-to-befriend-and-advise-them?) would go a long way, methinks.

** Support success **

We're an angry, political, confrontational group too. It's part of our history, and a habit that we've never broken. Most of the people sitting around the GNSO and ICANN tables have been rassling with each other since The Very Beginning. That makes us quite off-putting to normal human beings who are much more likely to stick around if they find fun, learning and fellowship rather than anger, intrigue, and punishment. One approach may be to start consciously offering positive rewards for helpful contributions, rather than our current well-developed system of punishments for mistakes. Again, the new working-group process may provide opportunities for improvement.

In sum, I think that only part of the answer lies in the structure of participation and I offer my best wishes for success in that inquiry. An equal component of our eventual success is likely to lie in the positive and rewarding support we provide to participants in that structure.

Mike O'Connor

voice: 651-647-6109
fax: 866-280-2356

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