Repositioning of .ORG – and the associated enhanced participatory processes – call for close attention to a range of image- related issues and their implications. These can be usefully illustrated here, for purposes of discussion ONLY, by use of fake TLD names as follows:
.GOOD vs .REAL
In the light of the UIA experience of many decades in profiling thousands of international nonprofit organizations of every shape, form and persuasion, .ORG should not endeavour to brand itself as .GOOD or.NICE according to some particular set of qualities. It would be quite unacceptable to seek to brand .ORG as the “good guys” – especially in contrast to bodies registered in other domains. There is indeed a legitimate aspiration by some constituencies and coalitions to seek to associate the values to which they hold with .ORG as being the values to which all noncommercial bodies should hold. This concern is to be honoured – in every case -- but it is important to recognize that religions have proven only too conclusively how difficult it is to make “universal values” and “global ethics” work in practice, however well they can be articulated in declarations of principle and intent.
The emphasis of this bid would therefore be placed on the realities of the variety of organizations and competing values -- warts and all – namely on .REAL.
.ADVOCACY vs .TOLERANCE
The bid is not an attempt to define or encourage political correctness (.PC) or to seek to impose principles articulated with great effort – and many unfortunate political compromises – by intergovernmental organizations or others. They should in no way be considered a precondition of use of the namespace. Rather the bid seeks to provide a space for the spectrum of views -- which may or may not be effectively taken into account in any particular articulation of appropriateness. The views and values of many bodies registered in .ORG may well be considered problematic – possibly to be caricatured as. QUESTIONABLE – recognizing that some of these may hold the seeds of future change in the challenge and questions that they bring to commonly accepted perspectives held by others.
In our view .ORG should not be branded as .ADVOCACY but should embody the principles of toleration with which the Internet has been traditionally so closely associated – preferably to be caricatured as.TOLERANCE. This in no way implies that bodies, or coalitions of bodies, should be discouraged from engaging in advocacy and proselytizing, or that .ORG should not facilitate their efforts. However .ORG should not come to be solely associated with the advocacy strategies of those who can successfully manipulate the democratic process to their particular political, religious, or other views.
.AGREE vs .DISAGREE
This bid does not assume, or seek to reinforce, any assumption that bodies registered in .ORG agree, or should agree, on principles that are continually debated, challenged and reformulated in the complex processes of society -- with many shades of understanding of democracy and its implementation in practice. This bid does not assume that .ORG should be effectively branded as .AGREE, .CONSENSUS or .COMMON. Indeed it is precisely through the nature of their disagreement that change is engendered by bodies registered in .ORG.
Many bodies in .ORG may indeed form temporary or permanent coalitions based on their agreement – and the processes of reaching such agreement should be facilitated by appropriate services wherever possible. But perhaps more important is to develop services to enable those bodies and coalitions who disagree to co-exist in an electronic environment -- and to seek ways to use their alternative insights and priorities creatively. In this sense.ORG might be more appropriately branded as the space where bodies can disagree – caricatured by .DISAGREE, or UNCOMMON. Indeed, if they agreed, why would they need a separate identity within the namespace?
.EMBODYING vs .ENABLING
This bid foresees a major trap in any attempt to design and manage .ORG as a means of solving the problems of society as a whole. Importing and embodying (hence .EMBODYING) the problematic dynamics of global society, or any of the unproven approaches to their resolution, is seen as highly dangerous to the effective operation of the domain. By contrast, the focus here is therefore on enabling designs and catalytic processes (hence .ENABLE or.CATALYSIS) in response to such problems as they are variously perceived.
It is indeed the case that .ORG has the potential to facilitate new approaches to the problems of society. But this bid considers it a fundamental design error to confuse the management of a registry service with how the existence of that service might assist different bodies to act in response to social conditions – especially when there may be profound disagreement on what constitutes a problem and the nature of appropriate solutions. Problems in society that have proven intractable to a variety of strategies and models should not be absorbed into the management processes of the .ORG domain. Assumptions -- and the associated desperate hopes -- that issues that have been inadequately addressed in society at large can somehow be effectively addressed in a new arena with untested models should be closely questioned.
For example, there is indeed a widespread concern to maximize democratic participative processes at every level of society. The requirements for management of .ORG are a reflection of this. Unfortunately, as repeatedly demonstrated in society, implementations of “democracy” have proven highly problematic and especially vulnerable to manipulation (or the perception of manipulation) -- however the abuse and tokenism may be excused. This bid would therefore seek to avoid to make management of the .ORG domain an experiment in solving the problems of democracy that have not been successfully resolved in much more favourable experimental environments. In this sense the focus of the bid might be caricatured not as much by .DEMOCRACY as by .FUNCTIONAL. Like any essential service, such as a fire department the question is to what degree its actions should be subject to democratic processes based on the simplest survey techniques.
This bid sees a registry as a service that should operate on a different time-scale to the uses to which it may be put at any moment. It is natural for many nonprofit bodies to respond to the burning political issues of the moment. They may be the only ones to do so and it is vital that they should be supported in this. However it is also the case that politics, notably in its most regrettable forms, also operates on fire-fighting principles in response to flavour-of-the-month priorities -- without any sense of long-term strategy. This is also true for intergovernmental organizations.
This bid does not therefore seek to associate the registry directly with short-term campaigns or efforts to get all registered bodies to support some campaign – although some may seek to use it to that end. But, in this connection, it would see as a potential issue for bodies registered their exposure to unsolicited (junk) mail towards such ends – however laudable they may be, especially to some.
.EXCLUSIVE vs .INCLUSIVE
This bid is based on an assumption that, to a large degree, the bodies registered represent, through the variety of their preoccupations, a vital balance between the forces of change and conservation. To avoid disrupting this balance, great caution is therefore required in seeking to impose any criteria of exclusivity (caricatured by .EXCLUSIVE) in contrast with the approach favoured by this bid (caricatured by .INCLUSIVE).
This principle might also be expressed through a stress on the quite disparate nature of many bodies that seek to use the .ORG spaceor might be encouraged to do so – perhaps caricatured by .VARIETY. In an important sense these effectively mirror the social ecosystem. It is inappropriate to stress their common features – caricatured by .COMMON -- as a basis for excluding some and giving preference to others.
. AGENDA vs .DYNAMICS
This bid does not seek in any way to establish a common social or other agenda for bodies in .ORG – as might be caricatured by .AGENDA. Rather it seeks to enable bodies to act singly or through coalitions in support of agendas that reflect their concerns. The focus is therefore very much on enabling the dynamics of coalition formation and agenda setting – caricatured by .DYNAMICS.
Expressed differently, it is considered important for the register to be operated with some detachment – perhaps caricatured by .HANDSOFF -- rather than through engaging in various forms of intervention (caricatured by .INVASIVE) – however benign it may be framed to be by those undertaking it.
.REPRESENT vs .PRESENT
The above principles establish significant design constraints on democratic representation of millions of registrants. Despite a decade of reflection on electronic democracy, it is not expected that any model can be immediately introduced to resolve these issues to the satisfaction of those who most need to be effectively represented. This is especially the case when the results of any polling can only reflect the inadequacies of such polling devices, much debated in a complex multi-cultural world: adequate representation of apathetic voters, disempowerment of very large minorities, and disproportionate weight given to priorities of any majority.
The emphasis of this bid is therefore on the design of processes to present the multivariate views of minorities – in all their complexity (caricatured by .PRESENT). It does not presume to resolve the challenges of designing systems to ensure their adequate representation (caricatured by .REPRESENT).