We all know that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a bureaucratic organization, but reading this post from a (now former) member of the At Large Advisory Commitee (ALAC), the group charged with representing the interests of ordinary Internet users within ICANN, shows us just how complex it really is. John Levine writes:

I thought hard about what I might accomplish if I spent several more years on the ALAC. Maybe we could get retail domain name prices to be $10.50 rather than $11 […] or get ICANN to fix the loophole that permits domain tasting. […] Or we might not. In the big picture, how much effort is this all worth? Not much. Certainly not almost a month each year.

Personally, I think ICANN’s work is invaluable to the decentralized structure of the Internet. There have been much ado about that the UN should get more control over the organization, but I’ve been hesitant to agree considering that some countries, who would then have some control over the Internet, can be said to have a less-than-perfect track record when it comes to protecting openness and free speech. However, this post by John Levine worries me also. What happens if ICANN gets so complex and opaque that no – or very few – idealists get their hands dirty? If the representatives with the stamina to go on are all paid lobbyists, lawyers and trade mark representatives?

Recommended reading for anyone interested in a inside report on internet governance. Read the full post at John Levine’s blog (also published on Circle ID).