Re: [Recentattendees] Background on Singapore go/no go for IETF 100

John C Klensin <john-ietf@jck.com> Fri, 27 May 2016 15:35 UTC

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Date: Fri, 27 May 2016 11:34:53 -0400
From: John C Klensin <john-ietf@jck.com>
To: Lorenzo Colitti <lorenzo@google.com>
Subject: Re: [Recentattendees] Background on Singapore go/no go for IETF 100
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--On Saturday, May 28, 2016 00:07 +0900 Lorenzo Colitti
<lorenzo@google.com>; wrote:

> Independently of whether the meeting is cancelled for this
> reason or not, it seems to me that if public/publicised, this
> sort of statement could provide ammunition for critics of the
> IETF community to assert that the IETF is not only (or no
> longer only) a technical organization but also a political
> one. Is that something we want to get into?
>...

Lorenzo (and others who have made arguments similar to the
above),

It seems to me that, if the IETF does nothing, it could provide
critics of the IETF community to assert that the IETF is
insensitive to issues of diversity and that its role and work
should be discounted because they represent only privileged
"majority" interests.  For the people or groups looking for
something to criticize, those who would base their attacks on
"also political" might not even be disjoint from those who would
be happy to base attacks on "not diverse".

I don't believe that those theoretically-opposing risks of
criticism cancel each other out.  However, if we start to make
decisions about what it is appropriate or not for us to do based
on what some group of critics might find useful, that is the
most purely political decision-making of all.  Arguments about
negative impacts on our technical work based on who is excluded
or excluded are far more complex and potentially subtle but can,
at least in principle, be measured against our ability to do
that work and do it well.   

Basing decisions on worries about the critics is nothing other
than political strategizing with zero technical content.  There
is almost certainly a place for that, but I hope that we don't
have to resort to it often and can be very explicit about what
we are doing and why when we have to.

     john