[bestbits] IGF MAG efficiency and fairness (was Re: Thanks! (and short observations on the IGF Retreat))

Norbert Bollow nb at bollow.ch
Thu Jul 28 19:50:16 EDT 2016

The current situation regarding IGF is that there are people who
justifiably feel that they are systematically misrepresented and/or
shut out, and at the same time the efficiency of the MAG processes is

I believe that there is no fundamental impossibility to effectively
address the problems of lack of effective representation and exclusion
while at the same time improving the efficiency of MAG's "program
committee" type tasks relative to today's practices.

Of course, optimal efficiency while also ensuring fairness and good
governance will be lower in a context with strong (even while it is 
sometimes not quite obvious) political contention like Internet
governance than in a context like IFLA's. But there is no justification
for organizing things so that they are much less efficient than that
optimum while at the same time failing to achieve the crucial
objectives of fairness.

Fundamentally this is a problem of organizational systems engineering
and it should be treated as such, keeping in mind the realities of
political contentions, and the corresponding need for trustworthy
fairness as a chief design goal.  


On Thu, 28 Jul 2016 23:48:55 +0200
Amelia Andersdotter <amelia.andersdotter at dataskydd.net> wrote:

> Dear Stuart,
> After some time on the MAG, and with participating in the IGF and
> other places of conferences and shared experiences, the MAG functions
> the way it does because there are so many different interests and
> voices that are looking to be heard.
> At a limited interest organisation, like IFLA, it is possible to
> subdivide tasks in a way that doesn't cause anyone to feel left out.
> At the IGF this would inevitably cause someone to feel misrepresented
> or shut out.
> best regards,
> Amelia
> On 07/27/16 16:58, Stuart Hamilton wrote:
> > Dear Colleagues
> >
> > I just wanted to send a short note thanking you for supporting my
> > participation in the recent IGF retreat, and alerting you to some
> > next steps. In the next day or so a compilation (organized by
> > topic) of the ideas and suggestions that emerged from the retreat
> > will be made available in a format that permits paragraph by
> > paragraph commenting.  This public consultation will be open for
> > two months until 26 September, 2016. It's now time for everyone not
> > at the retreat to get involved and make comments - I'm sure it will
> > be posted to these lists as soon as it is up on the IGF website.
> >
> > While I'm here, I'd also like to offer a couple of limited
> > observations of the retreat. Fundamentally, I felt that for those
> > of us there it was a very open wide-ranging discussion that the
> > outcome documents summarise very well. I don't have much to add in
> > that regard. The one area that was extremely interesting to me
> > though was the idea of the MAG as this gigantic conference
> > organising committee, and what a waste of expertise that seems to
> > be. Speaking from the perspective of a staff member at an
> > international organisation that arranges an annual conference for
> > 3000-4000 people, moving from different region to region each year,
> > there seemed to be a number of areas where a more focused approach
> > to conference planning could produce a better outcome. At the MAG
> > meeting before the retreat I was struck by the amount of MAG
> > members I spoke with who were exhausted and exasperated at having
> > to review >200 workshop proposals. Maybe I was being naïve, but
> > going into the retreat I had assumed some degree of organisation on
> > the MAG that would allow for workshop assessment by area of
> > expertise i.e. proposals would be divided up across groups of
> > individuals, sharing the workload, and playing to each individual's
> > strength in terms of subject knowledge. Not the case apparently,
> > and in my opinion clearly an area that should be addressed.
> >
> > I suddenly realised that my own organisation's annual conference,
> > which features hundreds of sessions and meetings over five days,
> > and has a core conference organising committee of around 10 people,
> > was massively more efficient than that of the IGF. We never really
> > got into discussion about the MAG's effectiveness in the retreat -
> > we did talk about how to better deal with the MAG's nomination
> > process, but we didn't go deep into MAG re-organisation. However,
> > it doesn't seem to me that changing working practices would go
> > anywhere near the MAG mandate, and shouldn't be controversial. At
> > the same time as addressing the workshop review process, there
> > could also be better organisation into sub-groups/working groups on
> > engagement and outreach, information dissemination etc. In
> > side-discussions at the retreat I did discover that there have
> > been/perhaps still are working groups on engagement, but I was not
> > able to ascertain if this is something that get set up each time a
> > new MAG is formed, or if there really is a structure in place to
> > tackle different topics, and utilise individuals' expertise. I'm
> > still left with this as a bit of a grey area I'd like to understand
> > more.
> >
> > Anyway, just some observations as I said. I encourage you all to
> > take a look at the document that will shortly go online, and
> > participate in the public consultation.
> >
> > Cheers,
> >
> > Stuart
> >
> >
> > Dr. Stuart Hamilton
> > Deputy Secretary General
> > International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions
> > (IFLA) P.O. Box 95312
> > 2509 CH The Hague
> > Netherlands
> >
> > 00 31 70 314 0884
> >
> > Twitter: @ifladpa
> >
> >
> >
> >
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