First time I heard about ICANN was at IGF in Baku. I was newbie in Internet Governance and I had no a clear idea about the actors and multi stakeholder model, I won a fellowship for this event and my objective was to understand as much as possible the whole Internet Governance process and implement it in my country as fast as possible. Once at the event, I met an ICANN member in lunch time, in fact, it was not and appointment or something planned, it was casualty because there no were enough available tables and mine had an available place so, he sat next to me. While we had lunch, he gave me a short introduction about ICANN, however, at the end of our conversation what I kept in my mind was a very general idea about his very general introduction, to summarize, ICANN for me was two things: ccTLD’s and Regional Internet Registers. I though this was enough to understand the ICANN role in Internet Governance ecosystem, but after a while, after attend some IGF and LacIGF events and talking with other Latinamerican ICANN members I realized I saw the tip of the iceberg so, I applied for a fellowship.
The previous preparation was a surprise. A lot of information, topics and doubts. After read the ICANN website information and links sent by my mentor I realized ICANN is more than a group of people who approve a “.anything”, ICANN is a multi stakeholder model itself and is part of a multi stakeholder model in the Internet Governance ecosystem. They handle not only technical topics that most of the people think they are discussing all time, but also other not-technical topics like Human rights, Internet governance and civil society organizations that are important in Internet Governance ecosystem. My expectation at the first was to participate and understand as much as possible in technical discussions like IANA transition, WHOIS, DNSsec, and all about GTLD’s and look for a way to synchronize this knowledge in my local Internet Governance group, However, I have been attending Internet Governance events as an activist and civil society representative, so, my expectation changed, I had to mix my interests and I focused in Civil society topics, Internet Governance and IANA transition.
Once at the meeting, the introductory sessions were helpful and in my opinion, the idea to mix session and breakfast was a hit . The summarized information about ICANN and its role was getting more clear for me. This sessions showed us an idea about how to handle or understand sessions and fellows felt free to ask basic questions according to their interest. Additionally, we had the opportunity to meet other fellows who work in different roles in different organizations and companies around the world.
I attended some civil society discussions but I specially remember a session when we discussed the problem with NGO’s who lost their org domains and moving to a page into social networks. The problem is those NGO’s loose their identity, donators, possible sponsors and as a consequence must sharing their private data with non-trusted companies. This sounds very dangerous because most of the NGOS work with sensitive data and people who need protection of their privacity. But was not just this discussion, in general all topics about NCUC were very interested and it became most interesting when I realized they have a real voting power in the ICANN’s policy making process.
Some technical topics were interesting too. The IANA transition still being complex, but the process is clearest for me now than 3 or 4 weeks ago, now I can say I understand better and it will be easier to follow this topic in the future (well, we have 11 months!). GTLD and ccTDL discussions were interested too, in fact, I attended the ceremony where .lat was signed!
On the other hand, It was a shame I can’t attend WHOIS discussions, but it was too much information for me and most of the times the sessions were in parallel. I guess you can’t have it all!
My expectations were covered, the ICANN map in my mind is clearer than 3 or 4 weeks ago. I understood better the IANA transition and the importance of the NTIA contract, I realized the NCUC can be helpful in my work with civil societies organizations and suddenly, At-Larges became interesting! (I have to think deeply about it).
To summarize, what I discovered of ICANN is a bit complex to explain using words, so I will try with an analogy, a very latinamerican analogy (I sent a twitt mentioning this analogy): A “Piñata” is a very popular habit in Latinamerican birthday parties. It’s a figure made of paperboard and filled with candies and small toys hanged up from the ceiling or a tree and must be broken using an stick or a bat. The kid (the birthday party host) is the first one who try to break the Piñata with his/her eyes covered. Once broken, candies and toys are spread out on the floor and children must to take as much as they can. ICANN for me is a Piñata, ICANN 51 was a broken piñata, information is all the candies on the floor and we, the Fellows were children trying to collect all those candies.
It was an amazing experience: too much information, new contacts, new people, topics to read and people to follow. I Hope to practice all this new knowledge in my Internet Governance group and attend other meeting again (why not?).