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Re: [gnso-vi-feb10] Board resolution on Vertical Integration

  • To: Volker Greimann <vgreimann@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: Re: [gnso-vi-feb10] Board resolution on Vertical Integration
  • From: Antony Van Couvering <avc@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 29 Sep 2010 08:43:25 -0700

The ICANN decision-making model rests on a belief -- and it is only a belief, 
because no evidence can be adduced to support it -- that people are 
fundamentally good and want to make things better.   Perhaps indeed they are, 
but people's ideas of what "good" and "better" are vary widely.  

The failure is in recognizing the limitations of a consensus model.  
Disagreement will always have an important advantage -- only a few people can 
create a disagreement, while an agreement takes everyone.   War is 
ontologically superior to peace, as the philosopher said.  

A consensual deliberative model requires for its success, among other things, a 
shared set of values, such as is found among Quakers or IETF standard setters 
or the Royal Society.   Consensus can be wrecked by any small group with 
determination, which can easily spring up where people's livelihoods are at 

As ICANN grows larger and attracts more members, the problem will grow worse, 
because the values of the group will become more and more fragmented as they 
begin to reflect those of the world at large.  Furthermore, the proceedings are 
likely to become even slower as the group struggles to find common ground even 
as it becomes rarer and rarer. People will disagree and then someone has to 
decide.  It's what the Board is for.   If we are to preserve a model of 
consensus within ICANN, we must be willing to hand over some decisions to the 

Unfortunately, that handing over of decision-making power to the Board will 
lead to the demise of "bottom up" policy making.  As ICANN grows more diverse, 
and less consensus is reached, the "executive branch" of ICANN will be 
strengthened, at the expense of the SOs.   The primary, perhaps only, benefit 
to a model of decision by majority vote, or even supermajority vote, is that is 
removes the veto power from small groups while still retaining the decision 
power within a large group.  At ICANN, the decision power is with the Board, 
which has already reserved to itself all powers, to be used in its absolute 
discretion.  It will use those powers more and more as the community makes 
fewer decisions, and makes them more slowly.  

This is the reality already -- there are those in this group who lobby 
furiously -- but they don't lobby us, they lobby the Board. 


On Sep 29, 2010, at 6:46 AM, Volker Greimann wrote:

> The failure to reach consensus, may not be a failure to some, but whatever 
> the board will come up with will make it become a failure to some. 
> Effectively handing a decision we were tasked with making back to the board 
> for them to find an adequate solution feels like a failure of ICANN decision 
> making processes to me.
> Volker
>> As many of you know, I have long held the view that failure to reach
>> consensus is not a failure.  It likely means that there may not be
>> consensus and that is very useful information and an indication that
>> market forces should be allowed to work.
>> Chuck
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: owner-gnso-vi-feb10@xxxxxxxxx [mailto:owner-gnso-vi-
>>> feb10@xxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Brian Cute
>>> Sent: Wednesday, September 29, 2010 8:06 AM
>>> To: 'Avri Doria'; 'vertical integration wg'
>>> Subject: RE: [gnso-vi-feb10] Board resolution on Vertical Integration
>>> Avri,
>>> The only point I would take up is I don't view this WG as a "failure."
>>> It
>>> was given extremely limited time to address an extremely complex issue
>>> without requisite expertise and resources.  Yes the constellation of
>>> interests around the table did not lend to quick and easy consensus.
>>> But
>>> this WG coming to this result given the factors I cited should not be
>>> viewed
>>> as a failure.
>>> Cheers,
>>> Brian
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: Avri Doria [mailto:avri@xxxxxxx]
>>> Sent: Wednesday, September 29, 2010 7:45 AM
>>> To: vertical integration wg
>>> Subject: Re: [gnso-vi-feb10] Board resolution on Vertical Integration
>>> Hi,
>>> I have not issue with continuing for the longer term solution.  But
>>> only if
>>> there is realistic notion that someday, somehow we may achieve
>>> consensus on
>>> an approach.
>>> The idea of a interminable succession of meetings like the one
>>> yesterday
>>> where we could not even agree on having meetings fill me with dread.
>>> We
>>> would have to have a commitment from all of us to come back to the
>>> table
>>> with a sincere intention fo compromise.  And I just don't see that
>>> happening
>>> at this point.  I used to believe that the stakeholders in the GNSO
>>> could be
>>> brought to consensus eventually on most any subject.  This group has
>>> dashed
>>> that faith.
>>> As for a simple yes or no poll.  We have seen with every poll, how
>>> after the
>>> poll, lots of people argued about what it meant and whether enough
>>> people
>>> had voted and whether we should tell anyone or not. We cannot even
>>> achieve
>>> consensus on the value of a poll.  So if there is a poll, I will vote
>>> in it.
>>> But I have no confidence that it will resolve anything.  It we do have
>>> a
>>> poll we better discuss the wording of the poll on the list first -
>>> though I
>>> am concerned we may not even be able to decide on wording on a poll.
>>> Sometimes after a failure, it is best to give up for a while.  And try
>>> again
>>> someday in the future once we see what the Board actually decides and
>>> see
>>> how well whatever they works in the new gTLD process that may
>>> eventually
>>> commence.
>>> a.
>>> On 28 Sep 2010, at 13:19, Alan Greenberg wrote:
>>>> Mikey, I was not really commenting on whether this was the right or
>>> wrong
>>> thing to do, but rather the process by which the decision was reached.
>>>> For the record, if we issue a final report, Council would need to
>>> initiate
>>> a new PDP (starting with an Issues Report) in order to go back to
>> work.
>>> Again, not commenting on whether this would be a good or bad path, but
>>> rather that we make the decision understanding the impact.
>>>> And this is indeed a case where (in my opinion) and simple yes no
>>> poll on
>>> whether to continue or not, might be a reasonable thing to do
>> (deciding
>>> ahead of time how we judge the outcome).
>>>> Alan
>>>> At 28/09/2010 10:29 AM, Mike O'Connor wrote:
>>>>> hi Alan,
>>>>> i'm tempted....<slaps himself in the face, twice>   no...  i won't
>>> do a
>>> poll....  :-)
>>>>> we've had a number of comments on the list prior to the call
>>> yesterday
>>> that basically said that it's time to acknowledge the deep divisions
>>> within
>>> the group and wrap things up.  i may have committed an error by not
>>> making
>>> it clear on the call that when we talk about finishing a Final Report
>>> we're
>>> actually speaking in code and saying "end this phase of the work of
>> the
>>> PDP
>>> WG."   but that's what we were doing.
>>>>> it's time to hand this back to the Council and the Board.  the
>> Board
>>> will
>>> make the VI decision for this round of gTLDs and the Council can
>>> evaluate
>>> what (if any) work should be done on VI prior to the next round of
>>> gTLDs.
>>> the frenzied task of trying to arrive at consensus on VI in time for
>>> *this*
>>> round of gTLDs is out of our hands now.  that's what we decided when
>> we
>>> elected not to go into hyper-frenzy mode and try to find something by
>>> tomorrow.
>>>>> the approach to handling the VI issue for the *next* round of gTLDs
>>> should go back to the Council for reevaluation -- this is the very
>>> largest
>>> working group ever, it consumes a stupendous amount of GNSO resources
>>> and
>>> attention, and circumstances have changed now that the GNSO VI Working
>>> Group
>>> out of the critical path to new gTLDs.  we've sketched that phase out
>>> in
>>> some of our informal documentation, but never got approval from the
>>> Council
>>> to do it.
>>>>> it's appropriate for the Council, as the body responsible for
>>> managing
>>> the policy-development process, to reaffirm whether to continue
>> working
>>> on
>>> VI now that the current-round decision is out of its hands.   they now
>>> have
>>> the chance to look at the situation and decide whether to redirect
>>> those
>>> resources to other more pressing issues.  if the Council comes back
>> and
>>> says
>>> "yes, we want a WG to do a 'normal' PDP and spend a year or so
>> figuring
>>> out
>>> what to do about VI in the next gTLD round" then so be it and i'll
>>> cheerfully be a part of that gang, but this is the right time to
>>> provide the
>>> Council with the opportunity to make that call.
>>>>> i'm off to test a new hydrofoil on the boat, so i may be sluggish
>> in
>>> replying for a while.
>>>>> mikey
>>>>> On Sep 27, 2010, at 11:16 PM, Alan Greenberg wrote:
>>>>>> Mikey, a substantive decision seems to have been made, and I do
>>> not
>>> recall any real discussion about it, other than a very cursory one on
>>> today's teleconference.
>>>>>> This group started as a formal PDP, admittedly with the caveat
>>> that the
>>> process not delay the launch of new gTLDs.
>>>>>> The Board motion that we have been discussing today ended with
>> "At
>>> the
>>> time a policy conclusion is reached by the GNSO, it can be included in
>>> the
>>> applicant guidebook for future application rounds." That sounds like
>>> they
>>> were expecting us to continue working towards consensus.
>>>>>> If we are considering closing up shop and do not plan to look at
>>> the
>>> issue further (thus giving the Board the responsibility of setting the
>>> VI
>>> terms for the long-term and not just the short-term), then this should
>>> be
>>> the result of formal action on the part of the WG (or the Council if
>>> they
>>> want to pull the plug).
>>>>>> Alan
>>>>>> At 27/09/2010 04:31 PM, Mike O'Connor wrote:
>>>>>>> hi all,
>>>>>>> here's a summary of the decision we arrived at on the call this
>>> afternoon.
>>>>>>> -- we've decided to submit a notice to the Council (and thus
>>> indirectly to the Board, in response to their resolution) that the WG
>>> has
>>> not arrived at a consensus view as of now -- Roberto and i will draft
>>> it and
>>> get it off some time tomorrow
>>>>>>> -- we'll aim for having a Final Report ready for the Council
>>> meeting
>>> on 18 November, and the primary task in that effort will be to
>>> incorporate
>>> public comments into the Interim document.
>>>>>>> that concludes my report.  :-)
>>>>>>> mikey
>>>>>>> - - - - - - - - -
>>>>>>> phone   651-647-6109
>>>>>>> fax             866-280-2356
>>>>>>> web     http://www.haven2.com
>>>>>>> handle  OConnorStP (ID for public places like Twitter, Facebook,
>>> Google, etc.)
>>>>> - - - - - - - - -
>>>>> phone   651-647-6109
>>>>> fax             866-280-2356
>>>>> web     http://www.haven2.com
>>>>> handle  OConnorStP (ID for public places like Twitter, Facebook,
>>> Google,
>>> etc.)
> -- 
> Bei weiteren Fragen stehen wir Ihnen gerne zur Verfügung.
> Mit freundlichen Grüßen,
> Volker A. Greimann
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