By Jennifer Bly

Everyone has a story about how they got more involved in the ARIN Community, so today we bring you a Q&A from Mercia Elayne Arnold about her journey with us. She first attended an ARIN outreach event, thought it was interesting, and then decided to participate in the policy development process as a result.

Could you briefly introduce yourself?

First, let me thank you for the opportunity to provide my reflections. I am Mercia Elayne Arnold, Esq., Senior Vice President, Risk Management & Compliance at The Obsidian Group, Inc. in Alexandria, Virginia. My career includes work as an Attorney, an Economist and a Professor. Most recently I taught an undergraduate course in ethics at the University of the District of Columbia in addition to working as an Attorney specializing in using the internet to provide electronic discovery support for litigation.

Why did you want to get involved in the ARIN community?

ARIN has a wealth of information for adapting to the 4th Industrial Revolution. Indeed, by setting the addressing policy issues for both IPv4 and IPv6 matters, ARIN is much more than the basis for a Rand McNally Roadmap of the internet. ARIN and its policy decisions may set the guideposts for the Internet of Things (IoT) to flourish.

Additionally, I like to learn new things and have always been interested in computers and technology. My father and I built a manual computer of sorts from a project kit when I was a kid—I recall having to do the conversion from base-10 to hexadecimal thinking to get the right answer. Growing up with computers, I have also experienced the results of machine learning and artificial intelligence reducing the reliance on subject matter expertise and replacing it with computerized searches. ARIN is a great place to develop an overarching perspective for addressing some of the challenges to making the most of the IoT.

How did you hear about the ARIN Lunch by the Numbers event?

In December 2019, I had made the decision to invest in myself and learn something new. At that time, I worked with a friend to provide Risk Management and Compliance services to his small technology firm, The Obsidian Group (TOG). I agreed to attend the ARIN Lunch by the Numbers event to learn about the progress that had occurred since the creation of ARIN. The ARIN Lunch by the Numbers event was a very timely opportunity for me to expand my vision and consider new opportunities to build on my prior experience at the state and federal level as an economist and attorney.

What did you learn and how has it helped you? 

Upon listening to the presenters explain the basis for moving from IPv4 to IPv6, I became much more interested in ARIN. The luncheon re-ignited my interests in working in technology and internet-related industries. While listening to the presenters, I recalled being an economist at the District of Columbia Public Service Commission, during the time when Virginia got the 571 Area Code prefix under the North American Numbering Plan. It had been on my to-do list from many years ago to keep in touch with the technological developments including the advances from POTS—plain old telephone service, to the data revolution—the fourth industrial revolution that is occurring today. Getting active with ARIN aligns with that objective, I am happy to say.

I was also happy to see that some of my students take an interest in both the stickers for ARIN and IPv6, as well as the table literature from the ARIN Lunch by the Numbers event.

The Lunch was very interesting, informative and challenging. The experience helped me to focus my next career quantum leap, and I am happy to look forward to combining my work with ARIN through TOG, with the information I will get from the Cybersecurity Master of Laws program at the University of Maryland.  An in-depth understanding of the “legislative history” supporting ARIN policy decisions, is an area I find intellectually stimulating.

Did it help you feel ready to participate in an ARIN Public Policy and Members Meeting?

The Lunch by the Numbers program provided me with several pieces of materials that made attending an ARIN policy meeting more interesting. I attended ARIN 45 virtually, and quite frankly, with trepidation, since the work of ARIN’s Advisory Council (AC) and Policy Development Process (PDP) is relatively new and uncharted waters for me. However, as I listened to the presentations at ARIN 45, and reviewed the links provided at the Lunch, it became clear to me that the AC and PDP process was akin to the regulation and administrative procedures that I am comfortable with.

Why is getting involved in the ARIN public policy process important to you?

It is important to me to note, after observing the ARIN 45 process, the favorable impression that ARIN’s Policy Development Process made upon me. After a career in administrative rule-making and legislation at both the state and federal level where I participated in the sausage-making, ARIN’s PDP just makes sense.

As I learn more about ARIN, its importance to the growth of the internet, is clear. It is a golden opportunity for me, given the chance, to add value to ARIN’s deliberative process. The public policy decisions that the ARIN community will make over the next decade will shape the incentives for growth of the internet, in the same way that sunlight shifts the direction in which sunflowers grow.

Why should others get involved as well?

The COVID-19 impacts on the global economy are not yet fully understood. Impacts that include communication shifting from in-person conferences, networking opportunities, and communication paradigms, to internet access as the sine qua non of participation in the global economy.  ARIN is important to that shift. Others interested in helping to channel the development of IPv6 as the infrastructure and backbone, if not the prime mover of the 4th Industrial Revolution should get on board and participate in ARIN’s efforts.

I look forward to observing these developments as a novice and participating in the ebb and flow once I get my sea-legs.

Thanks for joining us, Mercia. We love welcoming new voices into the ARIN community. For those interested in participating more as well, check out these ways to Get Involved.

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