So the sky was clear? Don't bet on it.
ICANN had managed to alienate the administrators
of the world's country-specific domains by sending them bills rather
than asking for contributions.
It had managed to alienate the people who just learned about ICANN through the At Large election process by projecting an image of fighting tooth and nail against granting the At Large-elected members influence over ICANN decisions, and delaying the implementation of such influence whenever possible.
It had managed to alienate most of the individuals wanting to contribute in the Domain Names Supporting Organization through a convoluted "interest group" structure that seems designed to produce deadlocks rather than consensus.
It has managed to leave itself without any certain source of income, meaning that it has to depend on "emergency" gifts from donors who think the alternative of seeing ICANN go down in flames would be worse than the status quo.
And what's more, it has managed to convey the impression that all these problems have taken them by surprise.
Nevertheless, a few hundred diehard ICANN friends, enemies and onlookers
descended on the Marina Del Rey these days in November to see the process
move somewhat forward. Or at least move somewhat.
Quite different were the concerns of the well-groomed propagandists for the various new gTLD proposals, handing out invitations to receptions, free T-shirts and pamphlets extolling their particular brand of salvation for the Internet.
And the national registrars - from the "let me sell and don't bother me" attitude of .TV (originally the country code of Tuvalu, a small Pacific island) to the "we know how to run regulation - don't come here and mess it up" attitude of .DE (Germany), they were united in the opinion that ICANN was interfering entirely too much into their affairs, and in particular they did not feel like paying large sums of money for services not even loosely defined, and likely to be partially irrelevant if they had been.
Not to mention the Government Advisory Council - you could smell the miffed attitude of officials who still did not understand why regulation should be allowed to escape the well established rulesets governing international negotiations since time immemorial.
Worthy of note, too, was the "internationalization of domain names"
workshop - not that it did any work, but the problems surrounding the use
of non-ASCII in domain names were relatively clearly presented.
The sharp point of the day prize shoud probably go to Tan Tin Wee's presentation where he threw up a picture of a Web browser window where the URL had been written in Thai characters: "If the Web had been invented in Thailand, would you have been able to remember this URL?".
Point taken. But anyone who left the room feeling that introducing internationalized URLs will be simple and painless must have been present with their ears completely closed.
This was, in its own way, indicative of many of the discussions and
opinions being bandied around.
Nobody was really happy with how ICANN had behaved, how issues had been handled and so forth.
But everyone was anxious to see forward progress on the real issues, even at the expense of delaying the accounting and reform of the process itself.
Dangerous. But not unreasonable.
The "at large study" commissioned by the Board also came under heavy fire - in public, from people who thought ICANN was trying to renege on promises of democratic representation; in private, from people who thought the At Large process was so obviously broken that it should be put out of its misery as soon as possible.
The funniest event of the evening
(if your taste runs to the tragicomic) was the beauty pageant of the 44
new-TLD applicants, at 3 minutes each + questions from the Board. With
the prize for best entertainment probably going to the one who spent his
3 minutes railing at the unfairness of the process for selection, and hearing
Esther Dyson's dry "Thank you for wasting your time".
Best video: SRI, presenters of a scheme for creating coordinate systems using the DNS (.geo).
Most shameless self-promotion: Nokia (.mobile, "if we get the name we can find something to use it for"), whose representative waved her phone in the air and said "if there are any issues, we can call <guy in charge> and ask him" (she didn't, in the end).
Entertainment, of a slightly perverse sort.
.web was removed from considerations because the best-liked applicant
had changed its approach after submission.
.coop was liked because it was clear that the guys applying had self-interest in policing its criteria.
.geo died because it was unclear why it needed to be in the root, and because several questions about the technology ideas appeared to be not sufficiently worked out.
The application for "either .air or .aero" got pointed at ".aero" because the board members felt that ".air" was related to stuff we breathe, and not particularly to large metal objects moving through it.
And so it went. The list
of final recommendations is public now.
Note: These are not go-aheads. These are recommendations that the staff enter negotiations with the applicants. It could easily be many months before any of these domains are in fact added to the root zone.
But the process is one step further.
But the world has not come to an end.
And we might get to see what happens when you add new domains to the root zone.