Collaboration at ICANN

Susan Crawford has a laundry list of things that ICANN needs to do. One of her items has been a theme in the ICANN community for a while, and it came up in Wellington as well: 1.5 We need to make better tools available for policy development purpo…

Susan Crawford has a laundry list of things that ICANN needs to do. One of her items has been a theme in the ICANN community for a while, and it came up in Wellington as well: 1.5 We need to make better tools available for policy development purposes.As I told some senior ICANN staffers in a hallway down there, ICANN isn’t really lacking the tools. ICANN has archived mailing lists. It has a web server. People do use instant messaging. It is possible to build a decent collaborative environment based on these tools.What ICANN lacks is a culture of collaboration: Appoint an editor for documents. Publish things quickly, and at a stable location — right now, everything that goes on the ICANN web site needs five days for conversion to HTML (why not use HTML for authoring?) and review by General Counsel; drafts are generally word documents that are exchanged by e-mail. Make minutes available, quickly, and link them from a web page. Link, whenever you refer to something. Have Instant Messaging back-channels during conference calls.Bad enough, a large part of the ICANN community seems to believe that tool support can solve problems that are actually caused by the overall work style in the ICANN community.Unfortunately, it doesn’t really look like the work style of ICANN’s current leadership mixes too well with online collaboration. So we’ll probably hear more about how ICANN suffers from inadequate tools, how a new position has been staffed to achieve Excellence in Collaboration and is now reviewing a lot of expensive toys — and in the end, everybody will continue to work the same way they do now.As someone said in Wellington: “E-Mail doesn’t really fit my work style.” I think I was speechlessly puzzled in that moment. And then, I started to wonder how on earth that person got the job they hold now.

Arranging good social events

I spent the last two weeks in Wellington and Auckland, New Zealand — and, for a significant amount of time, on board various aircraft. The occasion was attending the ICANN meetings in Wellington; I’m currently involved with ICANN as a member of i…

I spent the last two weeks in Wellington and Auckland, New Zealand — and, for a significant amount of time, on board various aircraft. The occasion was attending the ICANN meetings in Wellington; I’m currently involved with ICANN as a member of its Nominating Committee. Unfortunately, much of what goes on on the NomComm is unbloggable. Much of the rest of the meeting didn’t strike me as particularly note- or blog-worthy.One important part of these meetings is the social event (or, rather, are the social events). ICANN is, fortunately, joining the club of those who hold these in nearby major museums: We were served canapees at the Te Papa Tongarewa, the Musem of New Zealand, and had access to (most of) the exhibits there. After the IETF’s visit to the antisocially good Mus馥 d’Orsay last summer, this is one of the better social events I’ve experienced, and I very much hope that other groups will start to join this trend.Another tradition that is evolving in ICANN Social Events is the sports evening; this time, bowling. Besides being a clever marketing event for Auda (they were clever enough to give out free baseball caps for the first strike — people were actually wearing these, despite the incredibly ugly and Cheney-safe color combination), these ones help to bring the rather diverse and fractioned ICANN community together.Kudos for both of these choices to the local organizers.(And yes, it is a bit sad that the social events were the most bloggable thing that happened all week. Besides Mike Palage leaving the board, maybe.)