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RE: [ga] Agenda for GA meeting in Santiago, Chile

Roberto and Antony,

--On Wednesday, 18 August, 1999, 07:50 +0200 R.Gaetano@iaea.org

> > On the Internet, the only way this will work is by using 
> > online methods, and
> > by getting some new voices in the chorus to leaven out the
> > repetitive cacophony we've become used to.
> Any ideas?
> You just said few lines earlier that there is little public
> interest in ICANN outside the couple of hundreds people who
> are constituting the "repetitive cacophony".

It is, I fear, even worse than that.  I imagine that many people
who are deeply concerned about ICANN but who have limited time,
resources, and/or tolerance for noise and abuse, take a look at
the traffic levels and conclude that online participation is.
for them, just hopeless.  Give someone more traffic than he or
she can handle, especially if much of it has a very poor S/N
ratio, and the tendency is to just tune out --possibly even
beginning to delete things wholesale-- and not, except for the
very brave and/or very foolish, to get drawn into the active
debate.  That, in turn, makes claiming that online decisions are
really more representative and inclusive of the Intenret
population a little risky: clearly and tautologically it better
represents the people who can't/won't attend meetings than
meetings do.  But I don't know how other population subgroups,
including those who might have strong interests and opinions but
are reluctant to speak out in a high-noise and sometimes
high-abuse email situation. break out.  Some few of them might
even be better represented by meetings.

Note that I'm not claiming to represent or speak for those
people, and I distrust anyone who makes such a claim.  I have no
idea whether, were they to speak up, I'd like or dislike what
they have to say.  But I'm concerned that we are finding
(however accidentally) ways to discourage their participation,
whether by meetings in far away (from many) and expensive places
or by email behavior that discourages them.

I don't know what to do about this, especially about the S/N
problem.  The IETF has been circling around the relevant rathole
for some months now, and periodically going down it.  If there
is any summary of those discussions, it would probably be that
the problem is hard, and gets harder the more one wants to
protect the ability for minorities to clearly express themselves
and to make sure that others understand their positions while
still letting others get work done.  If one is willing to
completely sacrifice one or the other, things get easier of
course, but I know of almost no one who would seriously advocate
either extreme position.

As a starting point, I would hope that those of us who are
trying to participate in good faith  can, at least, be sensitive
to the problems and avoid getting drawn into the low-information
threads that (whether intentionally or not) turn into denial of
service  (and denial of access for those with less time or
willingness to expose themselves to the nonsense) attacks on the
DNSO in general and the list in particular.   It is only one
convenient example among many, but, amusing as some of it has
been, we really don't need the number of messages about silly
hats that have gone by in the last few days if we are trying to
encourage meaningful participation by more of the community.
And those long threads take the participation of many people:
if it were only one or two people on a crusade, most people
rapidly learn to filter, if only by more and more rapid reaching
for the "delete" key.