Because they’ll have to work in a weird time zone even if it’s just a virtual meeting?
A group of ICANN community members in Asia, Australia and the Pacific Islands region are opposed to ICANN holding its planned Annual General Meeting in Seattle this October.
ICANN’s board is due to decide the fate of the meeting this month. It surveyed previous meeting attendees to see if they want to meet in person even if there are restrictions and not everyone can make it due to Covid. Most people were in favor of holding an in-person meeting along with the virtual components.
APAC Space sent a letter (pdf) to ICANN on Tuesday saying that many of its members would not be able to travel to Seattle and that it didn’t want a hybrid meeting to go on without them.
Its first argument strikes me as a bit odd:
Face-to-face ICANN meetings put all participants on an equal footing by overcoming time zone differences. The principal beneficiaries of a face-to-face meeting are those from outside the region of the meeting location, for whom attendance eliminates time zone disadvantage. In our opinion, a face-to-face meeting in which a sizable proportion of our diverse, global community cannot attend significantly disadvantages all those not in attendance.
It’s true that waking up in the middle of the night locally to attend a meeting is not ideal. But the argument doesn’t make much sense to me because a) if the meeting is held virtually, it will still be in Seattle’s time zone and b) certainly, it seems it would be easier to work on the Seattle time zone from home rather than to geting on a plane and flying halfway across the world to work on the time zone.
The letter goes on to note the benefits of in-person meetings:
In-person attendance provides an environment for building collaborative relationships which contribute much to the ability to progress work within the community between face-to-face meetings.
So, while in-person meetings are preferred, APAC Space doesn’t want its members to be left out.
It’s worth noting that a significant number of people attended ICANN meetings virtually even when the meetings were held in person before Covid.
ICANN will need to weigh these desires against the obvious benefits of part of the community meeting in person, as well as the damage canceling meetings causes to the local economy.