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But the sheer volume of minutely documented and archived process within ICANN produces a weird, if unintentional, sleight of hand, one that is familiar to anyone who’s dealt with any large “open” institution, be it a government or open source software projects. At a certain scale and scope, radical transparency becomes a means of achieving near-total inscrutability. Concepts and policies hide behind jargon, jargon hides behind footnotes explaining jargon, footnotes are full of new jargon rabbit-holes to leap through in some dizzying political mash-up of House of Leaves with House of Cards. To tell someone it’s easy to figure out how ICANN works and what the organization “really” does by offering them hundreds of pages of PDFs on their website is a little disingenuous, no matter how many languages those PDFs are available in.

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