[discuss] /1net Steering/Coordination Commitee

Suzanne Woolf suzworldwide at gmail.com
Fri Dec 20 18:22:32 UTC 2013

On Dec 19, 2013, at 11:34 PM, George Sadowsky <george.sadowsky at gmail.com> wrote:

> I largely agree with Andrew's view of this issue.
> We have a multitude of issues in the IG space that could stand increased understanding and improvement.  If we could focus on the issues and work toward that increased understanding of the issue, the alternatives, and the pros and cons of the alternatives, then we might be making progress toward improving IG.

Likewise, and not to put words in my colleagues' mouths but in hopes of moving this line of thought forward….

> Michael Gurstein and I had what I thought was a useful exchange a few weeks ago.  The hypothesis that I think we tended to agree upon, more or less (Michael, please correct me if you disagree), was the following (somewhat simplified): that the fight over representation is really a proxy war; the real fight -- the hidden fight -- is over different opinions on issues, and the representation fight allows the issue fight to be hidden.
> To the extent that this is the case, the representation fight obstructs getting to the issues and is counterproductive to our work.  Let's get directly to the issues.  In doing so, let's realize that agreement on issues cuts across stakeholder silos, and let's rethink how best to structure these conversations.
I read this post, and have watched how the discussion has evolved, particularly on the subject of "representation". 

One of the things that Andrew alluded to earlier in the thread was "rough consensus" as a component of "do stuff; structure later." This aspect of the suggestion being made hasn't been called out, but I think it's critically important, for two reasons:

	1. "rough consensus" as it's generally understood in a lot of so-called "technical community" circles is not unanimity and does not reduce to vote-counting. It means more or less that everyone's been heard, everyone's had an equal chance to speak, and not everyone is completely happy with the outcome but almost everyone can live with it.  It's a useful concept for moving conversation forward in situations where the participants adamantly refuse to appoint others to speak for them or "represent" them….and yes, this is a big part of how we got the Internet we have today on the technical side: there was a lot of personal interaction and trust among the "pioneers," but assuming they always agreed on answers, or even interests and priorities, would be inaccurate. They didn't, and their successors don't.
	2. One of the features of the "rough consensus" approach is that committees, working groups, and other subsets or their "leaders" do not have to be "representative" in any conventional sense to serve the function of moving the group towards recognizable and actionable consensus. The question of whether a result has the support necessary to be actionable within the group is moved from a question of *who* is making the decision to *how* it's being made, with the entire group in a position to see and judge where consensus is formed. 

It's possible to have significant levels of administrative effort expended around forming and judging positions on issues, but one advantage of such an approach is that it sidesteps the question of "representation" in the process of getting to those issues. It's also somewhat self-limiting, in that a steering committee or leader who consistently oversteps the will of the group is likely to find themselves on the sharp end of a consensus that they be replaced.

Such an approach is not always appropriate, but I humbly suggest that for the proposed function of the 1net steering committee, it's a good start.

I think the 1net steering committee needs to be about "Let's get some stuff done" (John Curran has provided several good descriptions of the kind of stuff that needs doing, as have others), and letting the system evolve. I'm lots less interested in who is on the steering committee, especially initially, than I am in having them be open about what decisions they're making and how. If a more formal steering committee and a more representative set of participants needs to be invented, it seems reasonable to expect we'll be able to tell and we'll be able to come up with additional structure that might be needed.


Suzanne Woolf
(just another techie, speaking for myself alone)

More information about the discuss mailing list