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ICANN Con Rocas (or ‘ICANN On the Rocks’)

ICANN Meetings can be an intimidating place for first-timers or even those who have only attended for the few years. The acronyms fly fast and furious. The participants, or at least most of them, have been working on the issues for years (even decades). The technical and policy issues are complex. Luckily, however, an attendee can overcome these barriers to entry with a few drinks at the hotel bar.

Indeed, the more seasoned ICANN participants you ask, the more it becomes clear that no small portion of the work done at ICANN meetings happens during the evening at the hotel bar (here in Mexico City, the bar at issue is ‘LoLo’). One conference participant even described the daily sessions as mere ‘Kabuki’ precursors to the decision making that happens at night. While some might cry foul at this fact (‘bar room’ decision making is arguably the antithesis of transparency) they clearly haven’t been to LoLo between 22:00 and 01:00. The reason these people have clearly not been to LoLo is this—it is only the oddest and introverted of ducks that will not be able to access this ‘back room’ process (and likely make some friends while doing so).

As an observer, there are two interesting, even striking, elements of this informal portion of the ICANN process. The first is how much of the ‘open’ culture of ICANN carries over into these ‘cocktail constituency’ sessions. Many (if not most) of the seasoned Cocktail Constituency members will encourage the intrepid ICANN newbie to pull up a chair to join in the conversation. The second is the willingness of those present at these Cocktail Constituency sessions to let their opinions fly. Indeed, perhaps this is not surprising because, unlike the day sessions, it is beer and bar nuts, not coffee and cookies, that keep the meetings going.

As a result of these two characteristics, the Cocktail Constituency meetings play an important, and even healthy, role in the ICANN process. Thus, while they may not be on the official ICANN agenda, all ICANN 34 participants seeking to fully participate in process should make it to LoLo between 22:00 and 01:00 at least one night during the meeting.

By Graham Chynoweth, VP Busniess Operations & General Counsel, Dyn Inc.

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Ahem... John Berryhill  –  Mar 3, 2009 5:19 AM

Nobody taught you the First Rule of Fight Club…

Business done at the Bar.....nah??? Heidi Siefkas-Cassemiro  –  Mar 3, 2009 2:56 PM

As in every business, it is important to relax and get to know your partners.  At ICANN, it is “no-longer” a secret that this it part during the sessions, but also it is done at the bar.  BTW, as a relatively newbie to the scene, towards the end of the meeting those 1:00 tend to stretch into the wee morning hours.

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