Wisconsin again

by Harry on March 11, 2011

I apologise to everyone for taking up so much space here. I’ve kept going in part because I know there are still people who are looking here for news and discussion and impressions. And because, although at some level it seems parochial, this has been the most remarkable political movement I’ve witnessed close-to (and that included the 1984-5 Miners Strike and the peace movement in the early 80’s which was my first experience of a mass movement), and by far the biggest thing of its kind that I’ve known about in the US since moving here a quarter of a century ago. Unless something surprising happens, I’ll slow down from hereon, with maybe a couple of posts in the future giving more impressions and analysis, and maybe suggestions about where the movement could go.

But for the moment, there is one urgent thing. Several plans seem to have been made for events at the Capitol tomorrow. This is a sign of the lack of coordination among the diverse leaderships of a more or less spontaneous uprising. The time that most people are quoting is 11 a.m. I urge readers who can make it to get there, and those who cannot to encourage others to do so. The Bill is passed, and there is no point trying to kill it now. The key is a massive show of strength — not to show the Republicans what they will be up against in the coming year or so, but to show our quieter supporters throughout the state that we are strong and this is just the beginning of a much less spectacular and sexy movement that can reach far beyond the capitol into the cities, towns, and villages of Wisconsin, in which they can play a part with assurance that their efforts have a real prospect of success.

ICANN leadership positions

by Maria on March 11, 2011

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. [click to continue…]

Popular Philosophy and Kuhn’s Ashtray

by John Holbo on March 11, 2011

I’ve enjoyed the Kuhn’s Ashtray series (to which my attention was drawn by our Kieran). It has a lot of good points and I’m basically sympathetic to Morris’ skepticism about Kuhn; but, all the same, this may be the moment to nip a pernicious new literary sub-genre in the bud. Wittgenstein’s Poker. Kuhn’s Ashtray. The trope: philosopher reduced to inarticulacy by devastating objection exhibits instability of character by resorting to ineffective physical violence. What’s next? Kant’s Mustard Pestle? Hume’s Sock Full of Pennies? It’s funny until someone gets hurt. [click to continue…]