[discuss] What is MSism?

michael gurstein gurstein at gmail.com
Fri Mar 28 18:20:24 UTC 2014


Most of your points below are very sensible and unarguable.

However, what I am sure must be coming clear in this discussion is that
there is a significant sleight of hand taking place where various actors
with specific agendas are pointing to those instances where the MS model is
workable and has proven useful (in those fairly narrow technical areas that
you are pointing to) and then using that base to attempt to extend the model
into much broader areas of Global (Internet) policy making where the
significance and operating effects of the model will be quite different.

For whatever reason this sleight of hand (and the very political agenda
which it is facilitating) is being supported or at least abetted by
significant elements in the technical community.


-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at 1net.org [mailto:discuss-bounces at 1net.org] On Behalf
Of Andrew Sullivan
Sent: Friday, March 28, 2014 10:48 AM
To: discuss at 1net.org
Subject: Re: [discuss] What is MSism?

On Fri, Mar 28, 2014 at 09:28:59AM -0700, nathalie coupet wrote:
> With MS-ism, there seems to be an increased awareness that 
> stakeholders are not on an equal footing

I'm not sure what this means.

If this means that, for any given issue under this or that process, someone
with greater familiarity with the topic is regarded as somehow having a more
useful opinion, then I think I agree and I also think it is as it should be.
That is, on the topic of (say) how the global DNS is actually deployed today
and what is therefore possible with the system, I think some people's
opinions (David Conrad's, for instance) are more valuable than that of some
others (I'll leave these unmentioned).

If instead it means that some people have greater access to or privilege
within the particular process even though they ought to be included, then to
the extent it's true it's a deficiency in the process.  In RIRs, for
instance, if some members of the RIR in question are much better able to
influence outcomes because of special expertise in the arcane procedural
rules, then that's just a deficiency of the process and not actually, I
think, a goal.  (It may have been _someone's_ goal in designing that
process, but I don't think it was an overall goal.  For example, I've seen
John Curran of ARIN go out of his way to explain how to get things done
within ARIN

Of course, also, some multi-stakeholder systems work by limiting the classes
of stakeholders, and perhaps you are worried about this.  For instance,
people might complain that public policy goals are badly represented at the
IETF because IETF discussions are not structured in ways that make public
policy people comfortable.  I think this has to be taken case by case; I
also think there's a high bar here.  (For example, I don't fully buy this
complaint about public policy concerns.  The IETF has a specific
charter-specification phase, and it would often be a good time to get those
policy considerations included in the use cases.  It's true that the IETF
doesn't do a lot to make public policy people comfy in these cases, but I
don't know that that is only the IETF's responsibility.)

Maybe by "equal footing", you mean that everyone's opinion, no matter how
well informed, ought to affect the outcomes equally.  If that's what you
mean, then with respect I disagree.  Yes, mine represents a somewhat
technocratic view of the correct mechanisms, but in fact one of the grave
problems with direct democracy in populist periods (like
ours) is that most of the populace doesn't have any basis on which to select
an option.  In direct democratic traditions that produced stable societies
for a long time, it was mostly by the mechanism of restricting electors to
those who had the money and leisure to devote themselves to understanding
the issues.  

And in any case, note that most of the above inherently needs to consider
the particular multistakeholder process you're talking about, rather than
talking about them all in the abstract.  See Stephen Farrell's earlier
excellent observation about this.

> Discouragement, disillusion and frustration will certainly follow.

Not half as certainly, I claim, as talking about a particular concrete
problem in the abstract.

Best regards,


Andrew Sullivan
ajs at anvilwalrusden.com

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