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Is ICANN Producing Jewels?

Excavation is fun. You get to rumble around on heavy equipment bashing up this and tearing up that. Each scoop uncovers original earth. As your big machine chews up the hill, an occasional sparkle suggests a raw gem or two.

Sifting is tedious. Hunched shoulders and strained eyes are the sifter’s reward. The toil of a long day may fail to uncover even a single rough gem.

Disposal is thankless. Above every tiny heap of sifted gems towers the enormous pile of crap that concealed them. The audience does not remember those who remove the crap that is not worth saving.

Cleaving a raw gem is risky. Delicate tapping cracks the crusty gem to birth jewel from its slough. But caution! An inept stroke shatters what should have been.

So how is the ICANN mining operation functioning?

ICANN business is still predominately conducted on Email lists/forums. Email lists and forums are good at excavating. As ideas churn and churn, every now and then a gem glitters amidst the din. Unfortunately, gems that are discovered in email lists and forums remain obscured by all the crap that is unavoidably generated by collaborative thinking. In fact, as new people come to the list, often times the same crap and the same gems are recycled. Email lists don’t do a great job of sifting and disposal.

I find the growth of ICANNWIKI very encouraging. Wikis are better than email lists/forums for collaborative refinement of ideas. As an idea is chewed on, the false starts and tangents can be flushed so that only the true gems remain. The complete record of who said what when is still preserved in the edit history, but now the fluff and filler can be removed by anyone who would like to add value to the wiki page. Wikis make sifting and disposal much easier.

While the ICANN mining operation is mired in the excavation phase, I’m cautiously optimistic that things are about to take a big turn for the better. I’ll explain why in my next post on CircleID.

By Brandon CS Sanders, Computer Scientist and Collaboration Enthusiast

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Ted Ernst  –  Oct 25, 2006 4:07 AM

Great piece, Brandon!  What’s really exciting to me is the possibility that those gems, those brilliant ideas that can serve to unite people across the constituency spectrum, can actually be more likely to occur when we actually start looking for them.  When we start looking for common ground—and I’m not talking about giving up our most important positions and requirements, what’s essential—our human creativity gets unleashed in such a way that new solutions literally get created on the spot.  Excellent!

John Berryhill  –  Oct 26, 2006 2:37 AM

Now there’s a teaser.  I am looking forward to your next article.

Brandon has been working on systems for developing consensus which merit rapt attention.

Brandon CS Sanders  –  Oct 27, 2006 7:59 AM

Thanks for the validation Ted and John.  I just submitted the followup piece.  I hope the mining metaphor is not too dopey :-)

Norbert Mayer-Wittmann  –  Oct 27, 2006 8:12 PM

I’m lovin’ it!

I don’t know much about ICANN, but I like the metaphor of putting an end to diggin’ in the dirt!

;D nmw

Jothan Frakes  –  Oct 28, 2006 3:17 AM

Brandon, it is good to see you come up for air from all the deep efforts and energy that you put forth sustaining and growing ICANNWiki to make a post here on circleID.

ICANNWiki has been and is an invaluable resource for both current and future participants in the ICANN process, as it helps build stronger community ties to the participants, and I think (my opinion, which was not requested but will be provided free of charge) that it sincerely helps people learn more about ICANN and who the participants are.

Anything that builds our industry and awareness of it is something that merits some attention.

CircleID, ICANNWiki, and the Domain Name Journal are just a few of the many great locations for information and insight to the domain name industry.

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