Representation in Cyberspace Study

Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School

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An important part of the Berkman Center’s study of representation in cyberspace is public participation. We are asking a broad series of questions - first collecting responses from a subset of volunteers, then sending a sample of those responses to the lists to spark and focus general discussion. We are sending questions every three to four days, and reading the lists to follow conversation there.

Our first question asks about the objectives participants have in mind: By what criteria should the study’s success later be judged?

Initial responses have described three broad levels: the process of the study itself, the report produced, and the membership structure proposed. The following is a brief digest; the full text of comments received is available on the RCS website: We look forward to reading more discussion.


* “Success of the BCIS study will be in each of us feeling that we are 'heard'.” - Richard Bohn

* “As the internet affects 100s of millions of individual users their participation should not be negated because they are not part of the "establishment" / "power structure" or "large money interests"” - Steve Witkin

To reach a broader audience, the Berkman Center would appreciate if you would forward our invitation to participate to others you know who might not be on the lists.


* “Thorough analysis of responses and proposed alternatives; quantification of responses where appropriate.” - Ellen Rony

* “Full transparency as to who the participants are and who they represent.” - Joop Teernstra

* “Proposed options/solutions should be: simple and easy to understand, transparent, practicable, guaranteeing balance (geography, gender, functionality etc.)” - Wolfgang Kleinwaechter

* “The test is whether it provides an analysis of views and proposes solutions which enable the different stakeholders and constituencies either to reach broad consensus on a constitutional membership structure, or to conclude that such a structure is not possible or not desirable.” - Richard Swetenham

* “I believe that "advisory" success can be judged according to the completeness of the research.” - Jim Galvin


* “Does it have "legs" to be a usable, wide-ranging study now and in the future” - Robert Erickson

* “The effort should be considered a success if it results in a proposal for a membership structure for ICANN that reflects the fact that while ICANN has responsibilities to a very wide range of people from a very wide range of locations, it also serves a vitally important operational role which requires experience and expertise.” - Roger Cochetti

* “The study needs to ensure its proposals respect political aspirations of good government and even start to reconceptualise government. Key themes of legitimacy, accountability, representation need to be addressed.” - Brian Fitzgerald

* “The study and its outcome should seem to give 'developing entities' a particular opportunity to benefit from the capability and applications of the Internet in general and the role of ICANN and its membership in particular.” - Jens Jorgensen

* “A measure of the ratio of those who can be *effective* members over the total number of people and entities which are impacted by a decision of ICANN or an SO.” - Karl Auerbach

* “The first goal of BCIS study should be to devise an electoral system that allows for a changing membership to represent future users who cannot be envisioned right now.” - Nicholas Sullivan

* “By whether or not it can arrive, in a timely period, with a proposal to ICANN for a method of admitting members to ICANN's at-large membership in a way fair to the entire Internet community.” - Michael Sondow

* “There should be a mechanism or mechanisms that will incorporate the views of the relevant public in a way that is thoughtful or deliberative.” - James Fishkin

Among the criteria we have heard so far: effective participation of diverse interested parties, of individuals or economically small interests, of international participants; dissemination of information, representation, legitimacy, accountability, transparency, safeguard against capture, flexibility, simplicity, balance, democracy, diversity.

The second question going to our volunteers list seeks to understand the differing conceptions of what ICANN as an organization should do, and the many visions of what membership entails: What should ICANN do for its members, and what will members do for the organization?

Last modified 1/10/99 by Wendy Seltzer.
Berkman Center for Internet & Society