[discuss] What is MSism?

Pranesh Prakash pranesh at cis-india.org
Wed Apr 16 04:43:18 UTC 2014

McTim <dogwallah at gmail.com> [2014-04-15 22:31:02 -0500]:
> In addition to what Alejandro says below, if I understand correctly,
> Wikipedia has layers of hierarchy AND Staff who make decisions.

Sounds like ICANN to me (even though Wikipedia has fewer layers of 
heirarchy), with the additional parallel of Jimmy Wales playing the role 
of NTIA on English Wikipedia: Having certain 'admin' powers but not 
really exercising/abusing them.

I don't quite know what you mean by "staff who make decisions".  As far 
as I am aware, staff cannot make any decisions about Wikipedia 
governance or Wikipedia policy.  They help run the admin work around the 
projects, help fundraise, provide legal support, help spread the 
community, etc.  See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation 
for further details.

And IETF too has "layers of hierarchy" -- community-created and 
community-appointed, of course, just like Wikipedia -- with its area 
directors and working group chairs and liaisons and NomCom.

By bringing up "layers of hierarchy AND staff who make decisions", do 
you mean that organizations that have layers of hierarchy and have staff 
are *not* multistakeholder?  Or that Wikipedia's governance processes 
too are multistakeholder?  Or that for some hitherto unmentioned reason 
processes that don't have a spillover effect aren't multistakeholder?

For a word that is used in every single discussion around Internet 
governance, there seems to be a complete lack of a firm meaning with the 
only agreement being that it is something that we all want.

As Laura DeNardis and Mark Raymond argue in the paper they presented at 
the Bali IGF, "The phrase multistakeholderism is too often employed 
uniformly and even uncritically, and risks becoming a mere shibboleth."

Pranesh Prakash
Policy Director, Centre for Internet and Society
T: +91 80 40926283 | W: http://cis-india.org
Access to Knowledge Fellow, Information Society Project, Yale Law School
M: +1 520 314 7147 | W: http://yaleisp.org
PGP ID: 0x1D5C5F07 | Twitter: https://twitter.com/pranesh_prakash

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