[discuss] What is MSism?

Andrew Sullivan ajs at anvilwalrusden.com
Fri Mar 28 14:02:54 UTC 2014

On Fri, Mar 28, 2014 at 08:07:38AM -0400, McTim wrote:
> It is clear that many of us (most of us I am guessing) on 1Net prefer
> direct democracy:

There is something faintly circular in the reasoning there.  I'm not
sure it matters what most on this list prefer, because I don't think
that this list was set up on the principles of voting or democracy.
Certainly, if it was, it's news to me.

Importantly, for anything impinging on the functioning of the
Internet, I am not in favour of direct democracy.  If the discussions
on this list have demonstrated anything, it is that there is a vast
number of people who have such deep technical confusion about how the
Internet actually works as to be disqualified from having an opinion
on what should be done with it.  People are of course entitled to
their own opinions, but I don't think that all opinions on technical
matters of fact ought to have equal standing.  Hence Dave Clark's
famous adage about the IETF: "We reject: kings, presidents and voting.
We believe in: rough consensus and running code."

> Given that 1Net is all about MSism:

I have been a little frustrated by these threads about what "MSism"
is, and I have a sneaking suspicion that this is because it isn't one
thing.  For instance, many people think ICANN, the IETF, and the RIRs
are multistakholder organizations.  To the extent that is true, it's
revealing, because they work in very different ways.  Most of the RIRs
have some notion of membership, usually relating to whether one holds
allocations from the region.  Moreover, the RIRs are already
implicitly tied to geography (itself a problematic notion on the
Internet).  ICANN has constituencies, and one nominally works through
those consituencies, though of course public comment is widely
welcome.  The IETF does not have formal consituencies or membership,
and anyone is welcome to comment on anything on the mailing list, but
one tends to be ignored if one's arguments don't get support or at
least acknowledgement from others.

What seems to me to be a common thread among these things, however, is
that the mechanisms are different adaptations to trying to get as many
relevant and informed opinions into the "tussle" about tricky
problems.  In this sense, the precise definition is less important, I
think, than the style of working.  So,

> Those MS processes aren't about power, but largely about which ideas
> are better than others […].

I think this is where we should concentrate.

Best regards,


Andrew Sullivan
ajs at anvilwalrusden.com

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