[dns-operations] "it's like having a pizza delivered to a friend's house as a prank."

Andrew Sullivan andrew at ca.afilias.info
Fri Mar 24 18:47:27 UTC 2006

On Wed, Mar 22, 2006 at 10:02:24PM +0000, Paul Vixie wrote:
> the internet has always been self-governing entity independent of any national
> government other than for funding.  this will be a sea change, the end of a
> very interesting childhood.  a sad day for us all.

I have three things to say about this. 

First, you'll note that I didn't argue that we should do the "same
thing as", but something "similar" to, pollution or auto safety
regulations.  If the Net is truly self-governing, then we ought to be
able to come up with something that will solve the social problems
we're facing, because that's what governance does.  Collective action
problems are social problems, and not usually technical problems. 
Perhaps a tech fix to the current social problem will work, but I
doubt it.  Or, if it's a technology we want, we need a technology
we've invented before: government.  Of course, that doesn't mean
"kings" or "US Congress" or anything else necessarily.  But it does
mean some sort of model by which polluters, vandals, and other such
miscreants are told -- forcibly, if need be -- to stop their
behaviour.  Do environmental regulations on mine-tailings ponds
infringe on the property use rights of a tailings-pond owner?  You
bet.  And there's nothing wrong with that, if the rest of us
otherwise have to drink water with mercury in it.  I say a similar
case can be made about BCP38.

Second, I doubt very much that your description of the Net's history
is exactly accurate.  My impression is that it was historically
governed in a way acceptable to the community of participants and the
people paying for it.  There were occasional friction points, though,
that suggest at least to me that, when push came to shove, the
funders (== the US government, mostly) were going to get their way. 
It so happens that most of the implementors involved were mostly
sympathetic to those demands, so it wasn't that hard to find
compromises that were acceptable to both sides.  But it had a lot to
do with the population using the Internet.  The changes to that
population over the past 10 years or so have come with a great number
of changes in the operating environment, which has also meant a
number of _other_ changes to the way the Internet worked.

Which brings me to the third thing (something which is similar, I
think, to what Ed Lewis says in this thread).  I would of course
prefer the days when Usenet was both informative and fun to read.  I
would of course prefer the Internet environment where open mail
relays were a nice, convenient feature rather than a major headache
which causes everyone problems.  I would of course prefer the
Internet where the biggest DoS exposure comes from an experiment that
gets out of control, instead of an attempt to extort money.  For that
matter, I would prefer an Internet where policy decisions are mostly
made by people who have used a command line at some point in their
lives.  But the Internet is, to a certain extent, a victim of its
success, and none of my listed preferences are any longer the case. 
I also sometimes wish that I were still 5 or 6 years old, and that in
early summer I could wake up, not go to school, and hang around in
the field looking at the pretty dew-covered spider webs, instead of
having to go to work and look at the outstanding balance on my
mortgage.  But I'm an adult now, and there are things I know now that
I could never have known as a child.  There's something wonderful,
too, about being an adult, so I don't think we should be too
nostalgic for a childhood that has, in fact, been over for quite a
few years anyway.


Andrew Sullivan                         204-4141 Yonge Street
Afilias Canada                        Toronto, Ontario Canada
<andrew at ca.afilias.info>                              M2P 2A8
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