[bestbits] On the future of Best Bits and the pre-IGF meeting

Jeremy Malcolm jmalcolm at eff.org
Tue Jul 25 18:23:31 EDT 2017

15 new members have joined this list since last week, and a new sign-on
statement has been posted on our website, both of which mark an uptick
in interest in this civil society network on Internet policy.  So I
thought it would be a good time to gather your thoughts on future
directions for Best Bits.

For those who are new, this group was originally formed in 2012
primarily to provide an action-oriented network of CSOs that could share
information and coordinate their response to various current Internet
threats, most notably at that time various proposals for the ITU World
Conference on International Telecommunications.

Since then it has been used as a platform for communication (mainly
through this list, there have been others from time to time but none
remain active), joint actions such as the sign-on statements that we
host, coordination between people involved in similar activities, and an
annual meeting held prior to the IGF.

Around 2014 calls for greater accountability in the operation of what
had, until then, been a fairly loosely and informally organised group,
led to the establishment of a steering committee
<https://bestbits.net/about/steering-committee/> and agreement on a set
of rules <https://bestbits.net/wiki/main/procedures/>.  But that turned
out to be counterproductive and so we have regressed to being ad hoc and
informal again.

This is fine, except that it means that it's difficult to raise funding
for events, and that you have to rely on a benevolent dictator (which
is, by default, me) to moderate the list and and keep the server ticking
over.  For now I'm OK with doing this, and our server remains functional
and funded for the near future.

Last year we turned over our regular pre-IGF meeting to co-ownership
with the other major civil society networks working in Internet policy
spaces, viz. the groups that are under the umbrella of the Internet
Governance Civil Society Coordination Group
<http://internetgov-cs.org/>.  That went pretty well, marking something
of a return to the original Best Bits vision.

At this point, I don't have a clear personal vision for Best Bits going
forward, so I would like to turn this question over to you, the
participants to find out what you want to be done.  To break it down
into a simple choice between two options, we should collectively choose
between either one of these:

 1. Maintain the current low-key status quo, and remove the currently
    unused or underused features of our web such as our joint event
    calendar (which currently doesn't have anyone to maintain it), along
    with most of the resources under the "Tools" menu on our website. 
    Rely on other groups to pitch in on an annual meeting.
 2. Conversely, seek to reestablish a steering committee of people with
    time, energy and vision to reinvigorate Best Bits and re-establish a
    program of activities, which could include actively organizing and
    raising funds for a broad annual civil society meeting, and/or
    drafting joint statements, supporting fluid working groups, etc.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Jeremy Malcolm
Senior Global Policy Analyst
Electronic Frontier Foundation
jmalcolm at eff.org

Tel: 415.436.9333 ext 161

:: Defending Your Rights in the Digital World ::

Public key: https://www.eff.org/files/2016/11/27/key_jmalcolm.txt
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