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Re: Suggestions Requested: Real-Time Chat Software or Sites

Richard wrote, tho Im really responding to Ben and the 
> I've been trying to emulate the f2f group/association meting
> in cyberspace for about 15 years. What I notice is, the physical
> presence is vitally important. When people are disconnected
> from that they say awful things and behave in a manner they
> probably would not if a room full of people were watching them.

When Esther asks permission to quote you in defence of closed 
Board meetings, what's your response?  

> This has been written about for years with respect to email,
> and what find is that, nominally, each service of the net
> has it's own culture and ethos. 

If I was in the habit of repeating myself, I would say, again, that the 
business of Internet governance is very like running a list, and while 
the topic here is IRC (which as you say rather goes the other way 
from civility), I think the issue should not be hastily dismissed.  

ASCII (among other character sets) has been developed over a 
couple thousand years as a nice compromise between the positive 
value -- data-density, in space and time, aka 'emotional depth'  -- of 
f2f, and the negative value -- the limited capacity of many receivers 
to handle that density, aka 'emotionally challenged users,' some of 
whose pure binary black/ white reactions would astound even a 
dyed-in-the-wool techie. 
Taking that spectrum as the frame of reference (and acknowledging 
that 'receiver' here is better understood as transceiver), one can 
pick a spot anywhere along it, of course. You want more 
immediacy? - go towards IRC and MMX. More deliberation? -- go 
towards peer-reviewed proceedings of the  Internet Cogitation 
Association (of...   no, not now!)  But as long as there is still an 
installed capacity of literacy, and the pedagogical infrastructure to 
support it, it seems foolish to rush headlong towards someehting 
else without at least *some consideration.  

For instance, you wrote,
>  IRC is a very very hostile place and I think it brings out the
> absolute worst in poeple. What can be an argument on a mailing list
> is much more intense and instant on IRC and usually escalates to
> higher plateus fairly quickly. 

and I absolutely agree. But -- given the pressure to open ICANN 
board meetings -- wouldnt it be just like them to propose 
conducting them IRC? Nobody would think for a minute it could 
possibly be useful, and we would suddenly discover 'consensus'  
for hermetically sealed meetings.

In short, what is *vitally important is not 'physical presence' per se --
 isnt it rather the feeling of having time enough to be understood? 
F2F does indeed offer a nice time/ understanding ratio, but so can 
any other medium.  The error lies in imagining that 'instantaneous 
communication' means instant understanding when it actually 
needs *more time -- and your IRC is evidence  (as if anyone on a 
mailing list actually needed more evidence!) of folks' not 
understanding that.

Pick your poison, sure -- but I'd say, lets get ICANN to conducting 
its affairs in print first, before we go haring off into the wild blue 
spectrum looking for 'realism.'