Guest Blog: Reflection on ARIN XXV

By TeamARIN - editor

[Editor’s Note: Below is a guest blog from the ARIN XXV Meeting Fellow from Canada, Steve Bertrand. This was originally posted at http://ipv6canada.com/?p=63. His views are his own.]

Reflection on ARIN XXV

By: Steve Bertrand

This post documents my experience of the ARIN XXV meeting that occurred in Toronto, April 18-21, 2010. It is very verbose, but I really wanted to do this so I could capture my own experience for myself. It’s laid out mostly in chronological order, as I felt that I’d be able to better recollect thoughts if I went back through the meeting starting from the beginning. There is a notes and conclusion section at the very bottom.

If you do actually read the entire thing, email me at steve@ipv6canada.com and let me know your thoughts, and whether anything should be changed or added.

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Well, the 25th ARIN meeting has now come and gone, and I must say that I now have no doubts that I am equally as important as anyone else within ARIN, not only as a person, but responsibility-wise as well.

The *entire* experience was truly euphoric, as much as it was enlightening, educational and even entertaining. I know now that it is absolutely impossible to get a true feel of the ARIN community until a meeting is attended.

I had to drive to the venue on Sunday for the first-timers lunch, as the train would have not gotten me there until an hour after the start. I was originally quite nervous, but long before I reached the venue, that nervousness turned into excitement.

We had a great lunch, which turned out to be a very effective method of initial integration. Instead of being overwhelmed by being tossed into a roomful of 200 people I didn’t know, the small group size at the table allowed me to really get to know a small group well, and then expand out from there.

After lunch, I got my first exposure to the meeting configuration itself. I paid very close attention to the level of organization that is put into the meeting, and I was (and still am) very impressed. Throughout the afternoon I got to meet numerous other people, some of which I knew through various email lists, others I didn’t know at all.

I went out for dinner with an amazing group of people, and the group I chose to go out with turned out to be one of the key choices I made throughout the entire event. I don’t recall the exact number, but I believe that half of the Board of Trustees (BoT) was there, and numerous people from the Advisory Council (AC), along with one member of the Number Resource Organization (NRO) Number Council (NC). IIRC, J.F. and I were the only two people that didn’t have some form of position within ARIN (other than being members of course).

Lee Howard made an executive decision to call this a “˜working dinner’ with so many members of the BoT/AC present :) As it turns out, that is exactly what it was. There was very little talk about anything other than ARIN. Although some of the things discussed were above my head, I still understood what was being discussed. The talks ranged from extremely high-level, to deeply philosophical. This was also my first exposure to global policy development, interaction between the Regional Internet Registries (RIR) (meta-note: there are five RIRs globally), and many of the current issues that are affecting us at the global level. The restaurant staff adjourned our dinner meeting about an hour after they had officially closed.

Monday at breakfast, I sat with Bill Darte, who has been with ARIN essentially since inception, and has been doing AC work the entire time. I exploited this one-on-one discussion time to learn a lot about ARIN itself, and how the business side of ARIN works. Looking back, this discussion really helped me make structural sense throughout all of the proceedings.

Note: Although I can’t name everyone that I had conversations with, trust me when I say that every single individual at the event was extremely intelligent and kind, and were very happy to take the time to answer questions and provide very reliable and quality feedback.

The rest of Monday went very well, and I was very quickly able to grasp the processes. Throughout the day, I was constantly asking questions so that I could understand some of the inner undocumented portions of the Policy Development Process (PDP), such as how the AC decides internally on whether to further a proposal (what weight is put on voting etc). Throughout the entire meeting, I found everything to be very well presented.

The Social (event) on Monday night was a great time. I had dinner with three guys who are all currently working for Canadian ISPs like myself. I learnt a lot about how the other guys are doing things, and it was the first time that I received any real insight into how a cable network works. What was new to me at this event, was hearing people cheering for an American hockey team at a restaurant in the hockey capital of Canada :)

After that, I sat and talked with John Springer in the hotel restaurant. I’m extremely glad that I did. John is a very intelligent person, and is incredibly talented at discussing things from a philosophical angle. He also introduced me to numerous other people, one being Paul Vixie. Paul is well spoken, a very kind person who listens intensively. During our talk, I suggested to Paul that it would be nice if there was a way to set up a brief meeting between the fellows, their mentors, himself (the Chairman of the Board) and the President.

The next day at about 1130, I received an email from Nate informing us that the Chairman (Paul) and President (John Curran) wished to meet with the fellows and mentors during the afternoon break. Thanks Paul!

The day that I learnt that I was selected as a fellow, I knew that I would be getting up to the mike at least twice, as I felt it was an important way to express my appreciation for being selected. It was a pre-planned thing to get up at open mike on the last day for a brief appreciation speech, but I also wanted to get up during at least one of the discussions as well.

So, Tuesday, during the discussion of 2010-8 (Rework of IPv6 assignment criteria) I did just that. I have to admit that I was so nervous, I was seeing spots and shaking violently. It made it extremely hard to even read my notes while at the mike. After I sat back down, I felt like a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders. Marla then congratulated me for “popping the cherry” :)

I voted on all proposals with the exception of two, because I need to do further research to better understand potential implications, and find out for sure what, if anything needs to be changed.

From the beginning, I knew that I was not going to vote with the crowd, but that I would vote based on how I personally felt no matter what.

Tuesday night was the Social (event) sponsored by the Toronto Internet Exchange (TorIX). It was a great time, and I *finally* got to meet Jon Nistor and some others of the crew, after years of trying to align schedules to meet in person (remember, I live only 1.5 hours from Toronto). Although I didn’t do any of the gambling, it was a blast watching Scott (Leibrand) game the roulette table. I also talked extensively to Rob Seastrom, who is on the AC, and the North American Network Operators Group (NANOG) steering committee. I used this time to ask questions relating to NANOG, and came out of that conversation with quite a bit of insight regarding the workings and current issues of NANOG.

During this event, I had the opportunity to get very familiar, and created great relationships with Chris Grundemann and Martin Hannigan. I also got to meet and talk extensively to ARIN PR person Megan Kruse. She is a fantastic person, and beyond enjoyable to be around.

I’ll admit that this night was one of the most entertaining, enjoyable and educational times that I’ve ever had in my life”¦seriously :P Marty is an absolute blast to be around, so if you ever want to have fun, befriend Marty.

Wednesday morning, I woke up, and made a mental note that it’s not usually this sunny when I wake up. I reluctantly looked at the clock”¦857. Being late is not the impression that I want to make. I absolutely hate being late for anything. In three minutes, I had a shower, got ready, got my stuff organized, and made it to the meeting in time. whew!

Wednesday was an informative day, and during the open mike, I got up and made my appreciation speech. This time, I was not nervous whatsoever. I did however sit back down, and promptly remembered that I forgot to thank Marla, my mentor. I told her this immediately, as I felt pretty horrible about it. Note: I did subsequently append a statement via email to the -discuss list after getting home.

I had a great lunch with a bunch of people in the hotel, and then made the journey back home through the traditional nightmare of traffic that is the Don Valley Parkway (DVP aka Death Valley Parkway) and the 401 highway.

So, that was the ARIN meeting.

Notes:

– I had a bit of an expectation going in that due to the political nature of the event, that people might clash based on their opinions after the daily meeting was adjourned. What really happened was the complete opposite. There was not a single person that I met that allowed their opinions to interfere with being kind, courteous and very respectable

– every person that I had the opportunity to meet and talk to were more than willing to answer questions, share their experience and knowledge, and listen to what I had to say. This applies to the ARIN staff, BoT, the AC and all of my peer members

– Marla was instrumental throughout the proceedings. She was always giving me tips and clarification, and she led by example. She further ingrained the importance of speaking out no matter what, and always making your decisions for yourself

Conclusion:

I am humbled by the very high level of care and consideration everyone truly has for the community, and the Internet industry as a whole. The entire event was meticulously organized and executed.

I feel that I have come out the other end of the event as a better person, and with a vast number of new friends.

This was my first real experience with politics, and when executed properly, it really is a pretty streamlined process.

One of the side effects of being at the event was the meeting of people face-to-face. With many people, I’ve learnt so much about them that I’m certain that I’ll be able to articulate better when I communicate with them via email, as I can use a writing style that may better suit their personality.

This was an experience of a lifetime. I encourage everyone who has not been to an ARIN meeting to attend one, and then keep going (even my competitors ;)

It is a great opportunity to be educated, and educate others. It was great that I was able to put a finger on the pulse of IPv6 adoption, and what stage people are at. There is a lot for me still to learn, and I have met contacts to communicate with who can guide me. I also met quite a few people that are just starting out, so I of course offered those people any experience or knowledge that I can share with them, at any time.

Thanks very much to everyone. I truly do hope to see everyone again in Atlanta!

-sb

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TeamARIN

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