In the late summer of 2006, the ICANN Nominating Committee will convene to select three members to the ICANN Board of Directors, and four members to various councils. Depending on the global visibility of the nominees, and the current political and technical currents pulling at the Internet community, these nominations will be both pilloried and lauded in different circles.
This process of selecting a good ICANN board member is astonishingly complex; I should know, having served on the founding NomCom in 2003, and the succeeding NomComs in 2004 and 2005.
By far the biggest challenge is finding good candidates. The NomCom has strict selection rules to enforce geographic diversity; and each NomCom has also ensured gender diversity is not forgotten. This can be a double-edged sword: all qualifications being equal, a Caucausian male North American candidate often has a lower chance of making it compared to an African American female. On the other hand, the NomCom successfully took a mostly male board and brought much better gender diversity; it has also ensured geographic representation from both developed and developing nations.
But I digress. The fundamental problem is enticing enough qualified, energetic and accomplished individuals to apply for the Board seats.
Here are the top 5 reasons why a potentially great Board member declines to participate:
People of this caliber agree to apply because they want to contribute to the Internet, like the ability to decide the future of the domain name system, provide a unique voice or just wield great influence. To persuade someone good to apply, they have to believe they can get at least two of these four reasons fulfilled.
This year, I'm meeting with a number of very senior individuals in India who I think might make a good choice for the ICANN Board, and I run into each of the 5 problems stated above. No Indian has ever served on the Board in a voting capacity, and it's time the world's most populous democracy and one of the fastest growing Internet populations finds representation.
In addition to the roles in Ram Mohan's profile, he is technology advisor to the Indian Government for the .IN ccTLD, which has grown from 7,000 names in 2005 to 170,000 today. His recent focus is on multi-lingualizing the domain name system using IDNs, and improving DNS security.
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