ICANN Public Forum Bingo

by Maria on March 27, 2014

Here in Singapore at the ICANN Public Forum, we’re at the end of a brutally busy week talking about how to run the Internet naming and numbering systems. It’s an event comprised almost entirely of ritual, and to understand what’s going on you need to be able to translate some of the long-loved incantations. Here are a few:

When someone says: I’m going to simplify things.
They mean: Be confused. Be very, very confused.

When someone says: I’m going to back up here.
They mean: I’m going to make up some history, now.

When someone says:I’m going to name the elephant in the room.
They mean: My next observation will be startlingly banal.

When someone says: Speaking on my own behalf. As the VP of Blah for Blah Blah Corporation, ….
They mean: I don’t want you to think about who’s paying me to be here, but you better listen because we have a lot of money, customers and power / votes, ministries and battleships.

When someone says: We need to show leadership.
They mean: I should be in charge.

When someone says: There needs to be a bottom-up process.
They mean: Nobody asked me about this.

When someone says: I want to talk about process.
They mean: Hold up. I need to consult my boss.

When someone says: I realise I’m what’s standing between you and lunch / dinner / drinks
They mean: I know you won’t like what I’m going to say. Please don’t throw anything.

When someone says: We are fixing the plane while it’s in flight.
They mean: I don’t understand what’s going on, but I know I don’t like it.

When someone says: The perfect is the enemy of the good.
They mean: Ignore everyone else’s ideas and just use mine.

When someone says: Any other comments on this?
They mean: Will everyone please, for the love of all that is holy, STFU?



The Raven 03.27.14 at 8:50 am

Snicker, snicker, giggle, er, kraw.


Lynne 03.27.14 at 9:05 am

Love these, Maria. Thanks!


Neville Morley 03.27.14 at 9:27 am

Not sure about this one:

When someone says: I realise I’m what’s standing between you and lunch / dinner / drinks
They mean: I know you won’t like what I’m going to say. Please don’t throw anything.

Isn’t the implicit meaning: So why not just agree with me without thinking too hard about it?


Maria 03.27.14 at 10:01 am

It certainly can be, Neville. But sometimes it’s just ‘Please like me!’.


Zamfir 03.27.14 at 10:33 am

Icann is just like normal people…


Alex 03.27.14 at 11:48 am

I name this elephant Ark Royal. God bless her and all who sail in her!


Jacob Haller 03.27.14 at 1:33 pm

I wrote a song with a verse about meetings like that once. The name of the song is ‘Watching Killer Robots Eat Your Head’.


Bloix 03.27.14 at 2:04 pm

When someone says, “I agree 100% with the concept,” it means, “I am implacably opposed to your proposal.”


faustusnotes 03.27.14 at 5:15 pm

I’m guessing that the density of bullshit weasel-words to actual meaningful language must be very high at this particular forum, even when viewed against the impressive yardstick of international business meetings generally. Am I right?


Colin Danby 03.27.14 at 5:32 pm

My favorite is “I think we need some clarity on X,” which means “I oppose X, but rather than saying why, I’ll try to make it seem too complex to act on.”


Evan 03.27.14 at 5:47 pm

The big question about ICANN is: Do they haz cheezburger?

(The last few times I attended they didn’t. I was terribly disappointed.)


MPAVictoria 03.27.14 at 6:31 pm

And I just sent this to pretty much everyone I know.


John Quiggin 03.27.14 at 7:15 pm

You need to print the actual bingo card. It would sell millions


Niall McAuley 03.28.14 at 12:40 am

When someone says anything featuring the word “perhaps”
They mean: Fuck you!

Perhaps we should stand back a bit from the proposal…

I agree 100% with Maria, but perhaps…

Perhaps a short recess is in order, fuck you very much MARIA for fucking undermining my carefully orchestrated fucking consensus!


Maria 03.28.14 at 2:16 am

Faustusnotes, you’re exactly right. Probably because of the variety of people and interests, there is more hypocrisy than the average conference. But as my older brother says, hypocrisy has its uses.

John, I think someone actually made us bingo cards a few years ago. The meetings are all transcribed with the feed displayed on a large screen as we go along, and the most commonly used card was “… unintelligible”.

Thank you Niall, and with that I shall adjourn.


Pat 03.28.14 at 6:10 pm

Whadduzzit mean when you say “ICANN has cheeseburger?,” then?

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