Secrecy Vs. Discretion... Was: Re: [wsfii-coord] fixing dates and
yahel at yahel.org
Sat Apr 22 07:38:03 BST 2006
Again a cross-post to both lists, sorry.
I promised myself that I will not do this.
Yet, Arun's post on WSFII-Coord list, has some relevancy to the
Dharamsala summit, and our team might find this interesting.
Arun Mehta wrote:
>On 4/21/06, Yahel Ben-David <yahel at yahel.org> wrote:
>>As for the dates, I think immediately AFTER the summit in Dharamsala
>>would be the best.
>>Also, the later it is, the better the weather get's in the plains, where
>>the workshops would most likely take place.
>The weather in the plains is fine, starting from mid October. Although
>who can predict weather these days.
>Laird Brown wrote:
>>On 21-Apr-06, at 2:32 PM, Juergen Neumann wrote:
>>>now as the date for the conference seems to be fixed from 20-25 October
>>>(great!) in Dharamsala, India, I would very much appreciate if we could
>>>finalize at least the next question about when and where there workcamp
>>>should take place.
>>>To me, both ideas (staying in Dharamsala or going to Aruns University)
>>>seem fine. I think it is most important to have the space and freedom we
>>>want to have for a good workcapmp meeting for about 10 to 14 days and
>>>some hundred people in the WSFII manner somewhere. I can't tell where
>>>this should be, so please make a decision Arun, Vickram, Laird and Yahel
>>>and others involved.
>>I'm sort of six or one, half dozen of another on this one. Theoretically, I like >Arun's idea of having guests visit his campus and getting a more extended flavor >of India. On the practical side, I'm less enthusiastic. This means that after the >conference that a large group of people will have to relocate, find
>>accommodations, deal with infrastructure requirements, etc., etc.,
>etc. I'm not >saying that this is unworkable, just extra effort.
>I thought of that before I invited. Travel from Dharamsala to Radaur,
>stay at Radaur, and tnen travel on to Delhi, I am confident my college
>will not only take care of, but bear the costs as well. You honor us
>by coming to spend time with us. But I have more important questions
Arun, I would try to focus on using the workshops to produce something
which is later being used in a productive way:
If, for example, your college in Radaur can provide Internet access to
some high-school or something like that, using a network which will be
built during the workshop, this will be great. I'll be happy to come
over, with our team of Tibetan refugees, to help make it happen.
>I am also not comfortable with the relatively closed nature of the
>decision-making process for wsfii Dharamsala that is being proposed.
>The wsfii process does not have a single leader -- no disrespect,
>Yahel -- nor do we have chairpersons and committees deciding what the
>content will be, on closed lists.
I think there is a big misconception here - maybe it's mine:
Maybe I'm wrong, but my understanding is that WSFII is not an organization.
I thought it is an idea - maybe a movement... maybe it's all the same,
it's a matter of English vocabulary - not my strong side.
The Tibetan Technology Center, which will host the summit in Dharamsala
is an organization!
It's a registered entity, with legal responsibilities, with employees
who are being paid and everything else.
Hence, it does have directors, managers and leaders.
As the founder and CTO of that organization, I can assure you that the
idea of WSFII fits EXACTLY what we believe in, and what we are doing.
Naturally, we put the Tibetan community as our prime focus, but helping
others IMHO will also help the Tibetan community a great deal.
As for leadership, I still don't see how can such an event happen
Moreover, there are people who are, and will be held responsible for
every possible failure and problem.
I'm amazed that WSFII managed to produce conferences without leadership
- I'm sorry I was not there to learn this myself.
Again, I have said this before, and I will say this again:
I am a technical activist, I have no experience nor know-how, where it
comes to setup of events and almost nothing which surrounds this.
I DON'T feel comfortable to lead this process.
I really hate that work, the pressure, the responsibility, the fact that
I don't get time to touch the technology anymore, and this kind of
I will be so happy and relived if someone else will take upon himself to
lead this, and be responsible for this.
I will stand-by and I will go out of my way to support that person, with
extreme dedication and hard work.
>I believe that form and content must be consonant, and you cannot
>discuss free infrastructures in secret. I also do not share the
>paranoia with regard to the media and other "enemies" in India, even
>though I myself have been on the butt end of it on occasion. In other
>words, I see no reason for us to deviate from our open style of
>functioning, all else being equal.
The idea behind my introduction of the WiKi tool, and the mailing list
was to allow MORE partners to participate in the decision making process.
Not to make things close - but to make them more OPEN, and to include
Let me explain by giving examples, forget about the media - it's only a
small part of it:
I'm now in negotiations with 4 very high profile keynote speakers for
Making their names public, before they agree to participate, has a very
good likelihood to deter them away completely.
People like that (and like me) respect discretion when their names are
involved. People don't like to read others talking about them behind
Since we have no shared, yet trusted, form of communication to discuss
these speaker's involvement, their costs, their contribution, etc..
Then I find myself not being able to share these decisions with others.
I'm forced to use private emails to a limited number of partners whom I
Why won't we use the WiKi or the list to do that ?
Let's go on - funders - same thing:
Some very famous and serious people are corresponding with us these
days. They consider to give nice sums of money.
If they see a group of "revolutionaries" or "freedom fighters" or
"hackers" or whatever impression they might get...
They are less likely to corporate then when they are faced by a group of
people, who believe strongly in what they do, yet adhere to "proper and
conventional" ways of action, and who are DISCREET and respect their
Allow me some more examples, I should have done this long ago, but
coming from the corporate world of the silicone valley, I thought this
is clear and fine with everybody here. But true - India think and work
in different ways, and even after leaving here for 8 years, I still
learn so much everyday.
Take H.H. the Dalai Lama as another example - making discussions with
his office public - would be very damageable.
H.H. is surrounded by a strong ring of security - being the world's most
famous individual. Not to mention having great political importance
Security and discreetness, are the key elements for all people in H.H.
If they come across these kind of talks, they will not know how to
interpret things, but will simply conclude - that we are not discreet
and hence we are not to be trusted.
I think that this issue for example, will not even be discussed on the
WiKi nor on the closed mailing list.
Even if everyone on it agree to respect the rules of discretion - this
is simply an issue much to sensitive to share over non-encrypted emails.
As I just explained, I cannot go into details - but I can assure you,
that as times goes by, I get more and more reasons to believe that H.H.
indeed will bless and inaugurate the event, at the requested dates and
Sorry for being so long, but I have some more examples for you Arun:
On May 20th, I expect a team from one of the world's leading, and for
our aims, the most respected and beneficial media player to visit us.
They are coming to produce reports on our project and I'll try to focus
them on the summit.
If I only mention their names here, it would be most damaging.
Yes, I know they read the archives of this list, and they should - it's
an open list.
(Hey you guys out there in LA - see what we have to deal with - this is
the world of freedom activists - but we are all wonderful and caring
people, hence these discussions in the first place).
Media people don't show-up, unless they have some scoop, something new,
If everything is made public before hand - the smaller fishs will jump
on it, but the big sharks will stay away.
Just a last example - I can't help it - these are all things that happen
here and now - every day - not theoretical examples:
I have accepted an invitation to speak about our project in a large
wireless conference in Europe - early June 2006.
I like to utilize this opportunity to harness more support and empower
people and organizations to join and help us.
Ironicly, for many of these people I represent India.... I like to be a
good Ambassador and do my job well.
I'm looking for guidance and ideas how to make this happen. Not sure
that a public mailing list, is the best place for asking for such ideas.
Some things will not be best said here... But here I did - just asked :-)
(Replays please in private email).
Again - the WiKi and the closed mailing-list, are only tools to replace
private emails and to allow greater participation in the planning process !
They are not a replacement for the web-sites, which we all work very
hard to build and to fill with as much information as we possibly can.
BTW - WSFII-COORD, has EXACTLY the same subscription rules as
wsfii at lists.tibet.net.
So why don't you just use the open wsfii list for coordination of events
? Could it be that you are also concern about privacy ? Discretion ?
>My suggestion, therefore, would be, that we do the part that requires
>openness at Radaur or Goa, if Fred's offer is still open, and do
>Dharamsala as an extended field trip, where people indeed set up
>networks, do PR, meet HHDL, project a wholesome image, and whatever
>else helps the local networks. That is something that I am happy to
>see Yahel, Laird and co organise as they see fit.
I think that Dharamsala is one of the most developed, rural areas, in India.
Hence, it is the least deserving of them all, to be offered free help -
that is true.
It is also quite rich and many organizations can help them selfs.
There is however a huge gap when you go 10-15 km away:
They have nothing, and it's even harder when your "next-door-neighbor"
has it all.
Here is where we focus our efforts now, and we plan very soon to expand
to remote Tibetan settlements in South India, Ladakh, etc.
Dharamsala however, will be the vehicle and tool, to enable all this
By harnessing Dharamsala's power we will reach all these places, (even
to Radaur :-).
This is most of what the Dharamsala summit is about IMHO.
BTW - Not sure if I mentioned it before:
My dream - is to build an international training center for building
A center which will enable each and every deserving community to build
their own network in an affordable way.
A center which will enable activists (such as the many on WSFII) to
teach and share their knowledge with these communities.
A center which will enable world-wide coordination for such (non-profit
(---I'll stop here, as not to side track too much....)
I don't think this will happen without leadership, Arun.
And yes, I will be proud and honored to be the technical (only) leader
of such a center.
I'v already made many of my past dreams into a successful reality, Arun.
I will make that one two !
I hope you will take a part in this and possibly even lead this.
I think you have the credentials - I don't.
>My apologies, rest of the world, on behalf of us Indians, for so
>publically airing our difficulties, and for not being sure of the
>venue, even a year and a half after we started to think about it. But
>like you, I did not know of the problems Dharamsala has, as a venue.
>Maybe as an Indian, I should have been more sensitive to the
>difficulties that the people in Dharamsala face. But India is a large
>country, and we have many pressing problems. Perhaps if the people of
>Dharamsala were a little more frank in letting the rest of India know
>what was going on there, we might have been better informed. I will
>talk to Yahel and Laird in detail about this, but right now, we have
>more pressing decisions to make.
>Oh, and while I have a wind, I think the name airjaldi sucks. It
>doesn't mean a thing in Hindi, nor in English, and even after I tell
>you that jaldi means quick, it still doesn't mean much. I would much
>prefer dharamsala.india.wsfii.org, or international2006.wsfii.org If
>indeed we want an Indian name, let me know, I'll brainstorm next week
>with my students.
Arun, my wife think it sucks also ! (The AirJaldi name :-)
As for myself, I don't care much - it's only a name.
It was a joke - I gave this name to the Mesh SSID back in Feb. 2005, and
it sort of grew from there.
Nonetheless, every Westerner that comes to Dharamsala and see this on
his notebook likes it.
It seems like there is a trend in the West to utilize words in "exotic"
languages for everything - technology in particular.
Our media experts suggests that this is a good name. I think it's better
then just WSFII. I can't stand all these acronyms anymore.
At least it's a name and it's even a bit funny. I'm getting used to it,
and I think it's hard to backoff now... maybe not.
AirJadi Dharamsala - Fast Air - Free Spirit (Thanks Fred.).
Last but not least - other then being devoted supporters of the WSFII
idea, what else do we (TibTec) have to do with WSFII ?
We like to use Dharamsala's summit to empower and focus the world's
attention onto the WSFII spirit.
We like to show to the world the many activists and organizations who
partner with us.
We like to empower each and every such partner, friend and supporter in
every way that we possibly can.
If the group of people who are behind WSFII (including myself) are to
make themselves into a more substantial entity (maybe a registered
society in India), it would be much easier to cooperate, support and
even put practical content into WSFII.
But then it will need a leader, at least someone to sign papers. Is that
so much against the spirit.
How can a spirit make substantial achievements, it can't sign checks ?
Maybe even TibTec (Tibetan Technology Center) will be able to host or
support such a society - maybe even give office space ?
I will be behind this 100% all the way. It's a great thing and there are
some fantastic people involved.
>I have no desire to hurt my friends from Dharamsala. I only wish they
>had attended Djursland in 2004, or London in 2005. These were
>marvellous conferences, that achieved a great deal -- not just in
>terms of concrete results, such as the institute in Djursland, and the
>book in London, but also in helping us clarify our thinking as a
>movement. It is vital that we keep the momentum going on both fronts.
>Except for two international council meetings of Amnesty International
>I attended, I never worked harder at conferences than at wsfiis, nor
>was I ever happier. I believe we organise great conferences, and would
>like us to continue in the tradition.
I'm also sorry that we where not aware of WSFII before.
I wish I had attended these events, for sure I could have learned so much.
No doubt that after the Dharamsala summit the whole world will know
about these initiatives and less people will miss on future events.
Arun, I thank you for your criticism, although it could have been done
in a more gentle way.
Specifically the threats you voiced in a private letter to me - I don't
respond well to threats, hence I choose to ignore it.
I truly hope that you will become an active member of the organizing
team for the Dharamsala summit.
I think you can contribute more then most of us in making this event
achieve our goals.
However, I kindly request that you accept to honor the privacy of
information on the WiKi and on the mailing-list.
If you, or anyone else, do not accept to honor this privacy, I kindly
ask that you un-subscribe, or else other people will not be able to use
the list to serve it's purpose.
Thank you for voicing your concerns publicly.
Looking forward to work with you actively in the future.
PS - What about your planned visit to Dharamsala ? It's perfect weather
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