Patricio Poblete: Bringing communities together and engaging the Internet


A man of a great background in Latin America and the rest of the world in relation to the Internet and its communities. Kind and straightforward. Patricio tells us about his thoughts on the Ethos Multistakeholder Award. He was the recipient of this award in the ICANN59 meeting last June.

Journalist: Johanna Montalván

Patricio Poblete

In a nutshell, how important is ICANN to you? What made you step up, be a part of it, and commit to it?

It’s an organization that many of us have helped set up. Its role is essential for the Internet. It has to do with the coordination and functioning of the domain name system, the allocation of IP numbers, and the protocol parameters.

ICANN was created at the end of the 1990’s through a process that was triggered by a US Government initiative at the time, but which was developed from that moment on by the involvement of all the stakeholders in the community. Then, the term “multistakeholder” was coined to refer to those who were interested in getting involved in this type of processes. Thanks to those debates, a structure was built, which was later implemented and it became into ICANN.

We at NIC Chile are connected to everything that has to do with domain names and, therefore, that is the field in which we are particularly savvy.

I could participate in one of the meetings back then; it was called “The White Paper Process,” which was the document issued by the Clinton administration. There were meetings all over the world; I took part in the one in Buenos Aires, which was one of the last ones to perfect the details of the organization, which at the time was called NEWCO, and later became ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

Use three words to describe the Internet.

Network of networks; it comes down to Collaboration and Communication. It is the result of an interconnection that, as a whole, allows us to communicate. And, thanks to this, everything that has been built on this network works.

What does the recognition made by the organization mean to you? What does the Ethos award stand for?

It’s a recognition granted by ICANN’s community through the specially-designated committees, but to me is more than just a personal recognition: I take it as a token of the community’s appreciation for all the work NIC Chile has done. I’m the visible face and I constantly participate in ICANN’s meetings, but I’m not alone. This is a team. There are lots of people who participate in the technical field, there are representatives in LACTLD, and the support for the ccNSO, so I think the community notices all of this.

For some reason, I’ve been lucky enough to be the one who gets to reap the benefits of the contributions made by our team.

In your opinion, why do you think the evaluation panel decided to give you the award this year? What is your background based on in the multisectoral sphere? What are the milestones in your participation that have been set as precedents?

I was there at the beginning. I was in Buenos Aires in 1998, in the White Papers meetings, which shaped this great project. We had the chance to found LACTLD, which was formalized a couple of years later: it acquired a legal status. After that, when ICANN started to operate, I was elected as the representative for Latin America, of an organization called DNSO back then, which had to do with all types of domain names, both generic domains and country domains. I had been part of that council for several years until, finally, we came to the conclusion that all the topics that needed to be dealt with, the ones that made us worried, were different enough to have two different organizations: one of them should take care of generic domain names (GNSO) and the other should be responsible for country domain names (ccNSO). After ICANN’s reform process in 2001, these separate institutions were built, and I was once again elected by my Latin American fellows as their representative in the ccNSO’s council, where I worked for many years. I think this is what allowed me to be there, to be visible and to take leadership positions and, finally, I think this is why I was given the community’s recognition.

Networks of networks. The Internet comes down to collaboration and communication.

ICANN described you as an epitome concerning the multi-sectoral sphere. Do you agree with such a strong statement?

I think they are very generous with their opinions, but, somehow, I’ve tried to do my best all of these years in order to arrive at consensuses and reach the agreements that back up the policies adopted.

Generally, the agreements are taken into account when they get a unanimous or overwhelming endorsement within the community. Sometimes this slows our debate processes down a little, but at the end of the day, we are capable to make sure that the adopted policies are widely accepted in the whole world. These processes and consensuses are not easy to achieve. The experience I’ve gained over the years —not only in ICANN but also in academia,
since I’ve been a professor at the University of Chile for several years now— has allowed me to, whenever possible, help facilitate the agreements, reach consensuses, and find the solutions needed for everyone to feel that this is good for them, that they can live with it, and that they are moving forward.

It is unusual to find two opposite sides during an issue, but sometimes we need a catalyst, someone who helps them reach an agreement. We all want the same things, but have different views because we come from different backgrounds and have different interests. This makes us look at the world in different ways, but ultimately all of those views melt into something that makes everyone happy.

How would you describe Patricio Poblete in 140 characters?

I’m lucky because I have my family, the opportunity to work in a technology that has changed the world, and an amazing team at NIC Chile.

*The original post was published in the LACTLD Report No. 10.