[governance] Muti-stakeholder Group structure (some ideas)

Karl Auerbach karl at cavebear.com
Sat Jun 2 03:26:30 EDT 2007

Jeremy Malcolm wrote:

> Karl Auerbach wrote:
>> I have much the same concern as you do about "consensus" - I do not 
>> see it as a stable or viable approach. ...
> True it is that consensus will often not be achieved.  But that is not 
> to be regarded as a failure of the process.  Making decisions is only 
> part of what consensus is about, and in some contexts a small part.  It 
> is also about shaping opinions.  It can thus narrow areas of difference 
> to be resolved through other mechanisms of governance (such as rules, 
> norms, markets, or architecture).

I'm having some trouble appreciating what you are saying; and I sense 
that we may have a fundamentally different view of what this thing 
"internet governance" is.

To my mind, if a matter is one that admits of separate choice by each 
actor and that centralized plenary oversight is not necessary, then I 
don't see how that is a matter that ought to be subject to "internet 
governance" at all.

To my mind, only those techo-internet matters that require, and I mean 
really require, a unified, singular body to make binding decisions, are 
matters that require a layer of internet governance.

If you are saying that much of the internet can get along without 
mandatory oversight I would very much agree with you.  But I would then 
suggest that those things that do not require mandatory oversight are 
things that we ought not to include as subjects of "internet governance".

In other words, to me, the term "internet governance" ought to be 
reserved for those internet techno things that really and truly require 
one choice that binds everyone.

It is rather hard to come up with a list of technical matters on the net 
that really do require a singular, worldwide, unified, mandatory policy. 
  IP addresses and ASN's (autonomous system numbers, used in routing) 
seem need such central policies.  DNS names, as I have described 
elsewhere, do not.

In other words, I perceive internet governance as something that ought 
to have a very small bailiwick.

What this suggests to me is that we each have a very different view of 
internet governance.  I perceive it as being something of last resort, 
that should be created only when there is no other alternative, when 
arbitrary choices by private actors must not be permitted.  I sense that 
you are considering governance in a broader way that isn't necessarily 
coercive and admits of private choice that is contrary to the decision 
of the governance body.

If we drop the qualifier "internet" from "internet governance" then, I 
submit, we've entered a whole new ball game.  Once we start dealing with 
matters that go beyond the technical necessities of the net, then we are 
engaging in World Governance with a big 'W' and a big 'G'.  Much as I 
think we want to improve the world, I'm not particularly optimistic 
about the chances of success if we enter that arena.


You received this message as a subscriber on the list:
     governance at lists.cpsr.org
To be removed from the list, send any message to:
     governance-unsubscribe at lists.cpsr.org

For all list information and functions, see:

More information about the Governance mailing list