Proposal for ICANN/RIR scenario planning exercise

May 25th, 2009 by kc

Internet infrastructure economics research”, and how to do reasonable examples of it, has come up a lot lately, so i’m posting a brief description of an academic+icann community workshop i’ve been recommending for a few years, which has yet to happen, and (I still believe) is long past due, and specifically more important than passing policies, especially emergency ones to allow IP address markets with no supporting research on the impact on security and stability of the Internet, and even at the risk of killing IPv6 altogether.]

Goal: a more structured conversation according to established discipline of scenario planning.

Objective: help understand what we don’t know. different way of seeing, thinking, ‘re-perceiving’ link system structure and behavior — “model what you don’t know”

Phase 1: SAST: strategic assumption surfacing and testing (SAST). Start with specific decision (in our case, IPv4 address markets/transfer), build out toward environment/context:
(1) what are driving forces /trends in macro environment
(2) what is uncertain, inevitable? rank forces by importance
(3) what do decisions makers want to know?
(4) what will they see as success or failure?
(5) what considerations will shape these outcomes?

Phase 2: Interview key players

Phase 3: Create proposed scenarios (~4; no probability assignment, since this is not about predicting the future, but understanding and preparing for the future). Effective scenarios are:
(a) plausible and surprising
(b) have the power to break old stereotypes
(c) decision-makers assume ownership of the scenario
(d) participatory (help thoroughly flesh out scenario)
(e) few in number, the differences among which matter to decision-makers.

So we would need scenarios to cover routing table explosion, nationalization of the addressing allocation function (and thus likely other aspects of Internet infrastrtucture), and market cartelization), as well as for a takeoff of IPv6 growth.

Phase 4: Create scenarios as a group (workshop #1, 2 days)
(a) understand present, past, demographic and technology changes
(b) describe variety of possible futures
(c) delineate how scenarios above evolve
(c) identify indicators to track what may trigger scenarios
(d) link to specific decisions
(e) link to analysis process
(f) link to organizational procedures
(g) involve decision makers

(So (c) above is where you would make sure someone writes up a neutral analysis of the “NAT tax”, that allegedly kills growth by strangling new applications and paving nonneutral networks. no easy trick, but the RIRs should make sure there is evidence of an earnest attempt.)

Workshop day 1: 1 hour defining issue; 3-4 hours key factors, environmental forces, setting on scenario matrix; 3-4 hours socialize, informally , compare impressions

Workshop day 2: 2nd thoughts on skeletal scenario logic; 1-2 hours: fleshing out one scenario together: beginning, middle, end. afternoon: break up into smaller groups to flesh out other scenarios, including preliminary and strategic impacts of each

Phase 5: follow up after workshop: 4-6 weeks of interim research while writing final scenarios
and exploring implications. circulate drafts, more interviews.

Phase 6: (possibly another workshop to) develop a framework for how to monitor indicators and reevaluate scenarios in light of empirical data.

— at least 1-2 represenatative from each RIR
— 1-2 represenatatives from ICANN and advisory councils
— 4 economists/media policy folks
— 2-4 Internet routing operational experts
— 1-2 from U.S. DOD (who have elephantine amounts of legacy IPv4 space)
— researchers from related disciplines, with accepted abstract submission

(need representation/support/participation from: top management, key decision makers and implementers, broad range of functions and divisions represented imaginative, open minds, at least 2 people who can write up results in unbiased way)


Learning from the Future: Competitive Foresight Scenarios

The Sixth Sense: Accelerating Organisational Learning with Scenarios

Inevitable Surprises: Thinking Ahead in a Time of Turbulence

Creating Futures: Scenario Planning As a Strategic Management Tool

A handbook for scenario planning: practicing futurists Bill Ralston and Ian Wilson offer practical guidelines for using scenarios in business settings

The Changing Foundation of the Internet: Address Transfers and Markets

Reform Establishing the Rule of Law (pdf)

According to the Best Available Data: internet telemetry, v6

disclosure: ARIN has sponsored CAIDA research efforts in gauging IPv6 penetration and obstacles, some results presented at ARIN meetings (October 2005, April 2008, and October 2008), others on the research pages of CAIDA’s website. ARIN has also told me it is planning to launch a more formal research program, which could be used to inform current and future policy debates.]

Leave a Reply