A Letter in Support of ICANNWiki
Letter written by Youth Observatory members in support of the work of ICANNWiki
In late December of 2017, news arrived about the current financial situation of ICANN, that the Corporation is going through a moment of diminishing reserves and limited budget as described in Cherine Chalaby's and Göran Marby's blog posts on the issue. Shortly after we received news that the ICANNWiki project is unlikely to be renewed, although no final decision has been made yet.
Acknowledging the need for knowledge-building and capacity-building platforms, in general, and the importance of ICANNWiki's role as an open repository for Internet governance, in particular, we, members of the Youth Observatory (SIG Youth), would like to publicly express our support to their work and highlight the need to ensure its continuity.
As a Special Interest Group we have sought to bring about the plurality of youth perspectives in the Internet governance ecosystem and collaboratively create a social platform for young people to have more access to IG spaces and debates. These efforts range from national, regional and international projects to skills, knowledge and capacity-building programs. It is in that spirit, and in seeing the alignment between our efforts and the role of ICANNWiki, that we write this missive.
The Wiki plays an important and innovative role in many aspects of Youth Engagement and Capacity Building on Internet. Our members have been actively engaged in editing the platform despite having any direct involvement with ICANN. The immediate result of this is the engagement of members in translating content and editing regional and national articles, thus helping bolster ICANNWiki's Portuguese and Spanish websites. In this regard, the platform serves as a venue for the promotion and production of content in local languages, helping us overcome the language barrier that often prevents people from participating of Internet Governance discussions, especially in articulating the specific vocabularies entrenched into ICANN.
ICANNWiki gives us remote access to a process of consolidating and building confidence to keep track of the developments in the field of Internet governance and DNS policy. Given the often unintelligible character of DNS-related issues - either due to their excessive technicality, acronyms or complex social, political and economic impacts - we believe ICANNWiki occupies a specific place in the "knowledge-building" field. Different from academic papers, news or other sources, the Wiki occupies this "knowledge-building" not only as a dictionary, but mostly as a "living repository". We understand that the possibility of ICANN cutting off funding to ICANNWiki would potentially jeopardize its existence as a "living repository" of accessible knowledge. This would represent a significant loss to the current generation of Youths engaged in Internet Governance and would have long-lasting effects in future generations.
Bearing this in mind, we would like to highlight four characteristics
Role as a Capacity Building platform — Just like any wiki platform, is a collaborative way of gathering information on a subject through different perspectives.
Outreach strategy — notably its Edit-a-Thons (in different regions of the world to strengthen diversity and multilingualism), webinars (to engage people that cannot attend the edit-a-thons or ICANN meetings) and booths in Internet Governance events — are frequently an initial stepping stone for integration into ICANN.
Enhancing multilingual content — ICANNWiki's approach to multilingualism is highly beneficial to the integration of people from non-English speaking countries.
A handy tool for even the most seasoned activists in Internet Governance and related affairs.
For the reasons already exposed, we believe that cutting ICANNWiki's funding will have a significant negative impact on ICANN and on the Internet Governance community. ICANN should not seek to remove projects like ICANNWiki in the process of reevaluating its budget; Instead, ICANN should support it as dynamic repository of knowledge. We ask, thus, that the Organization's donations to ICANNWiki remain intact.