Ronda Hauben on Mon, 10 May 1999 02:39:53 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Voices Need to Be Heard despite the fact ICANN can't listen

Here is a post from the IFWP list that I felt folks on Nettime would find
of interest. The discussion was about whether it is worth complaining
about the U.S. government created dysfunctional entity ICANN which is
acting to take over ownership and control of essential functions of the
Internet. And the debate was over whether it is whinning to complain or
important to complain even when ICANN's interim board of directors and the
U.S. government and the other governemnts who have acted to make possible
the creation of ICANN can't hear. 

James Seng <> wrote:

On Sat, 8 May 1999, Dr Eberhard W Lisse wrote:
>> Why are you whining about every post that doesn't fit your narrow
>> little views? 

>I think there is something known as the Freedom of Speech. If William
>decided that he wish to speak up his mind, even tho it may be whining to
>you, he is entitled to it just like you are entitled to express your
>opinion of him.

And the ARPANET and then the Internet developed because all those who had
a contribution were able to make them. The forms and processes of this new
medium were created to make it possible for all to have a voice, and by
all having a voice it was possible to create the Internet. The RFC's and
mailing lists and newsgroup and the Acceptible Use Policy preventing
commercial entities from interferring with the freedom of speech of all
others, made it possible to develop the Internet and to have it grow and

ICANN is being created, it seems, especially to combat that fundamental
nature of the Internet process. Now any who oppose the narrow set of
commercial interests who are trying to grab the essential points of
control of the Internet via the creation and development of ICANN, they
are being disenfraschised. 

Thus the users of the Internet are being told they are no longer able to
have any say over what happens in the development of the Internet. That
the Internet is only a set of wires that are owned by a narrow set of
commercial interests and that they will post their no trespassing signs
along the way against any uses or activities that they don't agree to or
determine should occur. But the Internet is *not* only a set of wires or
of routers etc. The Internet is something very different. 

Thus it seems that ICANN is the exact opposite of what it is necessary to
continue to develop and nourish the Internet. 

Clearly the Internet has its enemies and clearly ICANN has grown out of
and is the creation of those enemies. 

But it also makes clear to those of us who understand the importance of
the Internet to the future of our society that the principle of making it
possible for all who wish to to speak, and in fact welcoming all those who
wish to contribute is the essential principle of the new concept and
priniciple that the Internet represents. 

>> Haven't you realized by now that nothing you, or I or anyone else for
>> that matter, has any impact?

To the contrary. While one can speak, one has to speak. While one can
protest, one has to protest, as loudly and as broadly as one can. Once one
gives up that ability and that right, one becomes a slave. It is only then
that those who have deemed that they are the enemy of participatory
processes and of the Internet will have made any headway. Thus the more
that ICANN's interim board and the U.S. government who is empowering them
deem to ignore all views and try to dishearten users and netizens from
speaking out, the more they show their colors as the enemy of the
Internet. And the more they show that they are only functioning to destroy
the Internet. 

How netizens determine to deal with this problem will be determined by
netizens :-)

>Geez, are you saying that we as Netcitizen have totally lost our ability
>to influence the direction of how things is going to be in future despite
>that these are the people who is going to CONTROL the net (and horrible as
>it sound, some of us live on the net like our second life).

And for those to whom living on the Internet is important, these are the
folks for whom the Internet was created. Fundamental to the vision of
J.C.R. Licklider who was invited to head the first computer science office
at ARPA was the notion of human-computer symbiosis. This meant that it was
*not* the computer as a file clerk to the human, nor was it that the
computer was supreme and the human was only the extension to the computer.
No. Licklider's vision was that the human and the computer would be
dependent on each other and would form a new entity that was able to
cooperate in a significant way to make it possible to participate in the
decisions making process that it was too hard for either of the entities
to be able to be part of on their own. 

ICANN is the creation of those attacking human-computer symbiosis. 

ICANN is the old coming onto the Internet to destroy the new. 

The *new* functions with computers around the world and people around the
world working together to solve the difficult problems of our times. The
*new* is where the hard effort to define the question or the problem that
has to be solved develops from contributions from people around the world
who can communicate via their computers and networks that are part of this
new human-computer paradigm. 

Thus it is crucial to identify the problem that has to be solved now. That
is the challenge that ICANN puts on the agenda for all Internet users and
for all netizens. 

ICANN is deaf, dumb and blind to the voice of computer users and of

That is how and why it has been created. 

But it is healthy for all those who have any critique of ICANN to speak
up, and all those who have any critique of the role of the U.S. government
in creating and supporting ICANN or of the other governments around the
world who are going along with the creation of ICANN and in that way
attacking the Internet and the users of the Internet around the world. 
>If the "Big Boys" are able to do what they like and we little guys have
>nothing, absolutely nothing we can do to prevent that from happening, I
>think we need a redefination of 'Democracy'. 

ICANN is helping to clarify the importance of the participatory processes
that *make* the Internet possible, and that have grown up as part ofthe
Internet. And it is helping to clarify the old ways of governments like
the U.S. which just create an entity like ICANN to determine in secret
behind the scenes dealings who will benefit and who will be able to use
their power to snatch this entity. 

ICANN is showing the world the bankruptcy of the business model for
providing any rights to citizens. And it is highlighting the fundamentally
different model that was created as part of the process of creating the

This stark comparison is helpful is seeing what is the future and what is
the past. How we fashion the future is the challenge. But if we don't take
the challenge to clarify the principles by the attack by ICANN on the
principles, then we lose the right to the future. 

>-James Seng


           Write for copy of vol 9-1 of the Amateur Computerist
             with articles about the Battle over the 
                    Future of the Internet

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