Life after ICANN

Several of my ICANN pals have asked “how are you doing??” recently and I decided to write a little blog post to make it easier to describe the current sorry state of affairs.

Basically, dropping the ICANN stuff has freed up a lot of time.  What follows is a sampling of how I’m filling it.

I’ve been doing a *lot* more music.  Just learning how all the new electronic instruments work, and work together, is probably a full-time thing.  I’m looking forward to winter when I’ll have a bit more time indoors to get at that.  But today it rained and I fooled around with some new software (Komplete Kontrol) that rolled in.  This is a completely unedited snapshot of what I was doing — except this is only a couple minutes out of several hours of playing around

The farm is indeed taking up a really large part of my time right now.  Spring and fall are busy seasons for me and all my machines (Marcie is busy all the time, that story is over on her blog —  Right now I’m out on the tractor pretty much any chance I can get.  The last few days have focused on mowing invasive Aspen trees out of one of the prairies that Marcie has planted.  Here’s an action shot taken from my seat on the tractor…


And here’s a picture of the field when I was done later that afternoon — the goal is to mow as little as possible, while still knocking out the little brushy trees.  A few years ago i had to mow that whole field, so all the little un-mowed places are definitely a step in the right direction.  The last few years of ICANN, there wasn’t enough time to do this right.


I’ve been playing with a new toy — a drone.  Here’s a picture of two of them — the big one is the one that takes pictures and video, the little one is the one I’ve been using to teach myself to fly (it’s much better to crash a $40 drone than a $1300 one, although I’ve crashed the big one a bunch of times and it seems to be holding up OK).

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And here’s a picture i took from the big drone yesterday, showing the mist moving out of our valley that morning.  Marcie has posted a few of the videos on her web site ( )


Then, there’s the continuing battle against frac-sand mining here.  All those beautiful bluffs you can see above the mist are the target of the miners — they’d like to peel the tops off of them, extract about 20 meters of sand, and then pile all the stuff back up again (thus completely wrecking the environment around here).  I’ve been fighting them since 2010 and we’ve been pretty successful at keeping them out of this area.  I’ve been keeping track of a lot of that stuff here on this web site.

There’s been a big change in the makeup of the County Board, mostly due to all the activism that sprouted up around the frac sand issue.  One upshot of that is that I’ve just been appointed to a committee that keeps an eye on the land-information system that the County is responsible for (stuff like survey-quality section and quarter-section markers, online property descriptions, deeds, and the like).  Just as my interest in ICANN focused on the proper tracking and treatment of domain names, I’m really interested in this land-information stuff.  So I still have a hand in the policy-making game.

Another hobby that suffered while I over-committed to ICANN was woodworking.  I have a pretty nifty woodworking shop here at the farm and I used to do pretty elaborate projects down there.  The last few years of ICANN really chewed into that and I’m looking forward to getting back into it this winter.  I went wild about a week ago and started cleaning up the shop and getting things reorganized.  Here’s a link to a blog post that describes a typical “big” (all-winter) project.  This was a dresser I built for Marcie just before I got caught up in ICANN-madness.  You can read the whole blog post (showing some of the intermediate steps) HERE


There’s more, but this is probably enough to give you the picture.

I recently read a quote somewhere that a person should have no more than two hobbies.  I’ve got a ways to go to get there, but I think it’s good advice.


ICANN participants

I do these scratch-pad posts for really narrow audiences, the rest of you will find them a bit bewildering.  Sorry about that.  This one is aimed at the GNSO Council, as we ponder the question “how do we increase the pool of PDP working-group volunteers?”

Broadening the bottom of the bottom-up process is a critical need at ICANN right now. But at least in the part of ICANN where I live (GNSO policy-making working groups) the conversations that take place are very nuanced and do require a good deal of background and experience before a person is going to be an effective contributor to the conversation.

So I think that we/ICANN need to develop a clearer understanding of the many different roles that people play as they progress toward becoming an effective participant in the process. And then put the resources and process in place to encourage them along the way.  This is my current picture…



Here’s a starter-kit list of roles that people play. I’m putting them in pairs because nobody can do this by themselves — we all need the help of others as we progress. I’ve also built a little drawing which puts these in a never ending circle because we’re always turning back into newcomers as we explore another facet of the organization. I decided to beat the term “translation” to death in these descriptions.  I think ICANN needs to “translate” what it does for a wide range of audiences to make it easier for them to participate.

Newcomer <-> Recruiter

A newcomer is likely to be just as bewildered by that experience as most of the rest of us have been. They need a “recruiter” greet them, welcome them into the flow, translate what’s going on into terms they can understand, find out what their interests and goals are and get them introduced to a few “guides” who can take them to the next step.

Explorer <-> Guide

As the newcomer finds their place, they will want to explore information and conversations that are relevant to their interests and they need a “guide” to call on to translate their questions into pointers toward information or people that they’re trying to find.

Student <-> Teacher

As the person progresses they need a positive, low-risk way to learn the skills and knowledge they need in order to be able to contribute. And, like any student, they need a teacher or two. I’ve always thought that we are missing a huge opportunity in the GNSO Constituencies by not consciously using the process of preparing public comments as a place for less experienced members to develop their policy-making skills in a more intimate, less risky environment than a full-blown working-group. I’d love to see newer members of Constituencies consciously brought into progressively richer roles in the teams that write public comments for Constituencies.

Researcher <-> Expert

Another person who needs a very specific kind of partner is a person who comes to ICANN to research — either to find an answer to a policy-related question, find the best way to handle a problem or complaint that they have with a provider, or to discover whether there is data within the ICANN community that can help with formal academic research. Again, here is a person with fairly clear questions who needs help sifting and sorting through all the information that’s available here — another form of translation, this time provided by a librarian or an “expert” in my taxonomy.  This person may not want to build new skills, they’re just here for answers.  But filling that “expert” role could be a great opportunity for somebody who’s already here.

Teammate <-> Coach

A person who is experiencing a policy-making drafting-team (e.g. within a constituency) or working group for the first few times has a lot of things to learn, and many of those things aren’t obvious right at the start. And this person may not feel comfortable asking questions of the whole group for a wide variety of reasons. They would benefit from a “coach” — a person who makes it clear that they are available to answer *any* question, no matter how small. This person is translating a sometimes-mysterious team process for a teammate who is learning the ropes.

Leader <-> Mentor

As our person progresses, they eventually take up a leadership role, and once again could use the help of others to navigate new duties — yet another form of translation, this time delivered by a mentor who helps the emerging leader be effective in their chosen role.


I also think there are all kinds of information assets that participants use and access in different ways depending on what their role is at the moment. Another kind of translation! 🙂 Here’s another starter-kit list:

  • Organizational structures
  • Documents
  • Transcripts
  • Email archives
  • Models
  • Processes
  • Tools and techniques
  • Outreach materials

I think there’s a gigantic opportunity to make this “career progression” and “information discovery” easier and more available to people wanting to participate at the bottom of the bottom-up process. I’m not sure that there’s much need for new technology to do all this — my thoughts run more toward setting goals, rewarding people who help, etc. But a dab of cool tech here and there might help…