March 3, 2004

Impressions of ICANN/Rome

I'm here at the ICANN meeting in Rome - in the suburbs of Rome actually.

Anyway, remember what the "I" in ICANN stands for?  It's "Internet".  So one might expect that there would be reasonable access to the net to support the meeting.  Unfortunately reality fails to rise to match that expectation.

Access to the network from here is pathetic.  It's a wireless setup with inadequate coverage (and signal strength too low) and inadequate (congested) backhaul (it's an ADSL link.)  It bounces up and down like a clown on a pogo stick.  And to make it worse, it's one of those hotel card-based systems that intercepts TCP port 80 and forces the user to deal with a per-person web-based registration system.  Connectivity in the terminal area (the only area in the hotel where the level of fresh and stale cigarette smoke is merely slightly less than immediately carcinogenic) is shut down fairly early in the evening.

The marketing hype here at the ICANN meeting now reaches trade show levels.  There are vendor booths!  And there is a carrousel of terminals - you can sit in a seat and use the net while the seats (and terminals) go round and round.  All it needs are a few wooden ponies and a calliope.  Which, come to think of it, would be exactly the image for the kind of commercial trade show that ICANN meetings are becoming.

Thinking of useless hype drowning out actual discussion - I went to the reception last night.  It was in a cool (figuratively) place - a papal hospital built around the time of Columbus.  Too bad the sponsors (there is even an "official" airline for this meeting) decided to blast out a video at high volume making it impossible to talk to one's table neighbors without a bullhorn.

I head home at crack-o-dawn tomorrow, labor unions willing.  I hope to have a note of more substance and less impressions before then.

Posted by karl at March 3, 2004 3:55 AM