As I am responsable for security I don't take holidays whenever I want to so I just liberated a day to be at ICANN for ISOC Belgium. As I am only since recently active with ISOC Belgium it was also my first ISOC meeting. And I was strange and fascinating at the same time.
Imagine. This is the world parliament of the itnernet. This is the place where is decided who may have domainextensions and sell them and who doesn't. This is the place where the central DNS infrastructure (which tells you where the information is based on a name, not an IP Addess (like a telephone number)) is more or less managed and planned. This is where people, governments and stakeholders talk about security, privacy and online democratic rights.
You see people with totally contradictory interests. You see activists and lobbyists. You see people from all over the world and from all different cultures and also many women who are important and intelligent (and not only bringing coffee and holding papers).
All those people have the same rights of opinion and questioning about any subject that is dear to them and the community.
The cynical guy in me says that this is not representative for the online population and that government and big business will do whatever they want to do. Maybe most of those that should be heared aren't here or haven't got the opportunity to express themselves. The satirical guy in me didn't know what to think when he was entering a conference room where everybody was connected to the internet reading the internet and emails while there was in fact a conference and a discussion taking place. How much can you multitaks without missing essential bits of information - which are mostly hidden in the details or things people aren't saying ?
But this is like democracy the best thing the internet has for the moment and the only alternatives are the breakup or balkanization of the internet or a technocratic supergovernment of the internet which was what the ICANN organisation used to be.
So even if one can be very cynical about this kind of meetings, it is quite fascinating to see evern for one day. So if anybody is planning to go to such a big ICANN meeting once - you should go once. Just to see how democracy is developing itself before your proper eyes and how a little bit of goodwill from all the different stakeholders can make the big difference and in fact made the internet the place we have become used to.