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ICANN Notes on Sao Paulo Meeting and Roadmap for Future
Susan Crawford

March 19, 2007

This note, prepared on behalf of the ICANN Board Meetings Committee, follows up on the Sao Paulo “meeting about meetings.” It is posted before ICANN’s Lisbon meeting to remind readers of the points raised at Sao Paolo, report on progress, and categorizes improvements and discussions yet to take place.

I. Communications:

Think about “communication for what?” what are we trying to communicate? To whom?  

At Sao Paulo, we discussed making goals of meetings much clearer. ICANN can and should do a much better job of promoting meeting goals before meetings take place. We hope to focus the Lisbon agenda in a way that will be useful for attendees (remote and in person). We will keep watching this issue. The Lisbon meeting has many and varied topics from discussion on the Whois Taskforce report, to updates on IDN work, to a very full Board agenda. We will continue our practice commenced at the last two meetings of outlining why each session is important and who should attend. 

Web Site

At the Sao Paulo meeting on meetings, comments were made about the need for a better FAQ on the ICANN web site, the importance of translation of key documents, the need for an online docket tracking developments, and a clear policy and practice about posting all substantive correspondence to and from ICANN.

ICANN has made progress on some of these fronts:

  1. We will have an improved and more easily navigable web site which we will switch to at Lisbon;
  2. All correspondence is now being posted as a matter of course.
  3. A new remote site for participation by those not able to attend is already available.

There is still progress to be made. Translation is a major issue that poses expense and complications for ICANN. We want to develop and consult on a longer-term multilingual plan. This longer-term plan will not happen before Lisbon. But the Committee hopes to have for Lisbon a plan that says ‘this is what we will translate and into these languages for the foreseeable future until the longer term approach is developed.’

Improvement of the web site is a top ICANN priority. The changes so far to the website will be very apparent and visible at Lisbon. The meetings committee will continue to track these issues.

Before meeting

At Sao Paulo, we discussed the need for better local communication about meetings, explaining acronyms and what ICANN does. We do have a strong local media connection at almost every meeting. This ranges from consultants and media people employed by local hosts and ICANN’s own connections (usually the Regional Liaison). ICANN plans to experiment with seeding information with local radio and TV programs that cover Internet issues (interviews and the like). Local papers cover the meetings but ICANN can increase this activity and will try to do so for Lisbon.

ICANN has recently hired a media adviser to help with this task.

ICANN does have a glossary of terms, which is being updated. It may not be available at Lisbon but we are working to produce it soon after if that timeframe isn’t possible.

At Sao Paulo, we also discussed the need for synthesis/preparation papers in advance describing what cross-cutting issues will be discussed. We have not made progress on this task and need to keep focusing on it.

At Sao Paulo, we also noted that communications before meetings tend to be constituency-based, which is hard to follow. This needs to be dealt with somehow, but so far we have not made progress on this.

We also have discussed setting up local meetings around the time of the Large Meetings. We have not made concrete progress on this point, but do plan to continue coordinating with existing activity in local areas.

During meeting  

At Sao Paulo (and at many other times), we have discussed the need to get webcast participation working much better and to have at least an audio stream available. We have also frequently discussed the need for greater remote participation opportunities – information comes out of the meeting well, but people in chat rooms etc. can’t be heard inside meeting. We are considering projecting IRC screens. We have improved the remote site and it is up for use now. It was first trialled at Sao Paolo. It includes webcast capacity and better processes for taking question from those participating remotely.

We have discussed the video capture of scribing and hope to make a status report in Lisbon.

At Sao Paulo, we discussed the need for greater local participation opportunities (noting the NZ broad participation at NZ meeting), and we are focused on this for Lisbon as well.

The new Media Adviser will post a daily news service with highlights for the Lisbon meeting.

There will be broadcasting of the GNSO and ccNSO meetings. But we think that we need to broaden responsibility for taking notes, but we have not estanlished a process for this yet.

There is clearly a broad need to speak more slowly. Signs will be displayed throughout the Lisbon meeting.

For Lisbon, we’ll have a big sign centrally located with information about what’s going on where and an ICANN booth will be staffed as often as possible by and ICANN Staff member.

At Sao Paulo, a request was made to participate through telephone (not just internet). This is very hard and we will not be able to do it.

After meeting

At Sao Paulo, we discussed the need to have each meeting should leave a “footprint” made up of people who join in and become involved. This would help justify the costs imposed by meeting in remote locations. We discussed the need to keep track of this and possibly set goals for number of new participants. We have not reached conclusions on this but there will be a presentation on the latter by our new general manager public participation, Kieren McCarthy.

At Sao Paulo, we discussed the facilitation of sustained participation by these new ICANN-interested people that we hope to attract. This is likely the job of ICANN’s Regional Liaisons and the ALAC, as well as our general manager public participation, Kieren McCarthy and we will continue to report on this. We will have a meeting at Lisbon about this topic led by Kieren.

II. Meeting protocol:  

We discussed in Sao Paulo charging a small fee (perhaps voluntary) to participants, but we have decided to not do this based on barrier-to-entry and allocation concerns.

We discussed the need to make private meetings subject to clear guidelines re what can be recorded. We will formalize and publish these guidelines at or before the Lisbon meeting.

Agendas at Lisbon should be clear (in advance) as to whether meeting is public or private. We will do our best to tell people in advance as to the openness or closed-ness of any meeting. If a meeting is closed there will be a sign on the door making that clear.

At Sao Paulo, we discussed whether ICANN may be overdoing it on security. ICANN staff believes that security is an issue for these meetings and we will be continuing to require identification checks, but we will not fixate on this. There are risks associated with any event of this kind and we must assess them rationally and in a way that does not present barriers.

Local hosts have complained that there is no guidance about what information is required for name badges but cards are quite expensive. We are making changes to the registration process and whilst these will not be obvious in Lisbon they will be at our Peurto Rico.

III. Meeting structure  

At Sao Paulo, people commented that it would be good to see more interaction among board members in public. We agree and will work on that in Lisbon. We hope that the Board will be available in the evening for casual discussions more than it has been in the past. We also hope that they will be available to sit at the ICANN booth for allocated periods of time.

More cross-cutting, single-issue meetings were requested in Sao Paulo, but we have not to date made progress on this approach.

At Sao Paulo, it was noted that the initial meeting for newcomers is good – but then where do they go? We will work on having more help available to newcomers. At Lisbon, we will have a session where people can ask ‘dumb’ questions at the end of each day (agenda permitting).

Clearly, we need more time for dialogue (and less for reports). This is a long-term goal for ICANN, and we are continuing to work on getting things posted beforehand.

We need to structure meetings to be more open, with less talking up to the board. We hope you will see progress on this at Lisbon.

At Sao Paulo, the comment was made that the initial public forum is good, but it should be used to set up what will be discussed during the rest of the week. We will hope to do this in Lisbon with a more interactive and more substantive initial public forum.

IV. Meetings locations  

At Sao Paulo, we had a brief discussion about meetings locations. Having the third meeting always in the same place might make planning easier, and having a hub location for one or more of the meetings might make things more predictable (hybrid approach) and increase participation, particularly from business and government. On the other hand, outreach benefits of some meetings are substantial. We have not yet come to a conclusion about the benefits of hubs versus non-hub meetings, although we had been hoping to experiment with some incremental change in 2008.

It is very expensive to host a meeting for the local host, and we plan to make suggestions in the 2008 RFP for meetings that will modify the local host’s obligations.

V. Number of meetings  

We will stick with three-times-yearly meetings for the moment.

There is also a large number of meetings that take place that are not ICANN meetings where ICANN issues are discussed. ICANN could do a much better job of advertising a calendar of events at each meeting and our Liaisons should be the focus in this regard. We plan to report in Puerto Rico about how non-Large Meetings and other meetings interact.

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