I’m a member of the 2011 Nominating Committee which appoints several Board director and committee positions at ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names & Numbers). Funnily enough, when I was still on staff at ICANN, one of my last tasks was to support the 2009 committee, so though I’m a new member I’ve actually been through a cycle already. Our job is to attract and then sort through applications for positions doing unpaid work on fairly gritty issues in the technical coordination of the Internet’s naming & numbering systems.
So far, there are about 35 applications for 8 open positions. Half of them have applied to be Board Directors. None – not a single one – is from a woman. I have been told this is at least partly because previous nomcoms have disproportionately appointed men, discouraging women from applying. A propos of the thread below on the tiny number of women appointed to the new Irish cabinet, and their ghettoization in family-oriented ministries, I can only say this year’s nomcom is taking this criticism to heart. All other things being equal, we can only appoint women if they apply. There’s also a process to nominate a third person – you nominate, we contact them and ask if they want to go forward.
We’re participating in ICANN’s San Francisco meeting next week to rally troops and encourage people to apply for these positions, as well as to shine a bit of light on how the nomcom works. It’s been criticised – fairly, I believe – for being more secretive than is necessary, and this year’s committee is keen to open things up more. Nomcom is one of those highly imperfect processes that’s like democracy insofar as it’s the worst possible method to appoint directors and councillors, except for all the other methods. (The Internet election of ICANN Board directors you still hear some people banging on about almost a decade later was captured by the employees of a certain Japanese conglomerate – not quite the global demos we had hoped for.)
The nomcom’s rallying cry; “Apply Now to Join the ICANN Board, the Councils of GNSO and ccNSO, and the ALAC”, won’t mean much to people not steeped in the depths of Internet governance. But if any CT readers are interested by the basic pitch and would like to know more, please ping me and I’ll happily explain.
I must say up front the positions are unpaid and take up more time than most people expect, much of it on anti-socially timed conference calls. But it can be rewarding in personal and professional terms to be involved in setting the policy for the Internet. I’ve been put on the nomcom by the non-commercial stakeholders, i.e. the nonprofit community, and I’m especially keen to attract people from that world.
People who get put on ICANN’s decision-making bodies would start work in December 2011, and be plunged into the nitty gritty of:– the politics and practicalities of internationalising the domain space (e.g. Cyrillic domain names). For a broad intro to this topic, have a listen to an interview I did on Chicago Public Radio last year; – new top level domains (dot GAY, dot BERLIN and the like) and what if any veto role governments should have in them; – the ongoing tussle between the US government and the rest of the world, and between governments and everyone else on who should control the Internet.
The open positions this year are:
Two Board Directors
Three At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) representatives (one each from the Africa; Asia/Australia/Pacific; and Latin America/Caribbean regions)
Two councillors of the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO)
One councillor of the Country-Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO)
So, please visit the nomcom page for more info, or ping me in the comments if you’d like to know more.