If you were at the Cairo meeting, you will know that there was no small degree of irritation about the time that was available for the traditional open mic session on the Thursday.
If people are really keen, I can explain why that came about, but perhaps more importantly, we have ensured that there is plenty of time available at the Mexico City meeting next month for “public forum”.
In fact, there is four-and-a-half hours dedicated forum time: 90 minutes on the Monday solely covering the Applicant Guidebook; 30 minutes at the end of the Joint ACSO meeting; and two-and-a-half hours open-mic time on the Thursday.
Just to be clear: this is more open-mic time than at any ICANN meeting since Vancouver in 2005, and that meeting was marked out as being where both the dotcom contract and the .xxx application were discussed. We are also starting to separate out the delivery of reports (AC/SO chairs, staff and Board Committees) from “public forum” time, meaning open microphone time. That means that open microphone time is not dependent on anything else and stands alone as dedicated time.
Aside from the time issue, the other big concern the community has had is the ability to ask questions. Not everyone likes queuing up behind the public microphone and having to wait their turn to address an entire room of people.
Equally, the public forum has always been the most contentious meeting in terms of remote participation. In my role as general manager of public participation, I introduced and have followed chatrooms for the public forum in every meeting since Lisbon (March 2007), reading out questions and comments directly into the microphone.
This approach works, but not that well: chatrooms do not lend themselves very well to asking questions. So, in order to make things much easier for the community, there is now a very simple online question box.
You type in your name, affiliation and email address. You give the broad area that the question is covering. You type in your question and then hit “Ask Your Question” and it is then in the system and we will make sure you receive an answer either in the forum itself, or in a response that we will produce in the weeks following the meeting (the hope of course is that everything will be answered on the day).
I hope that this online question box is self-explanatory, but it case you have any questions or queries, that is why this blog post exists – to enable you to raise them where others can see them, and to allow for responses to those queries to be easily found.
So, in summary – please use this question-box system. It is only as good as the use made of it. And I hope it will make for more enjoyable, informative and interesting public forum sessions in Mexico City.