[ih] Keep the geeks in charge of the internet
the keyboard of geoff goodfellow
geoff at iconia.com
Mon Jul 13 09:52:58 PDT 2020
---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Karl Auerbach <karl at cavebear.com>
Date: July 12, 2020 at 06:19:26 GMT+9
That piece demonstrates why "geeks" should *not* run the Internet.
Bodies such as ICANN have demonstrated time and time again that they are
incapable of resisting capture by organized business interests, such as the
trademark industry, and the domain name registry industry (which, though
ICANN's decades long self-blindness has created a multi $Billion per year
money pump of monopoly-rent profit.)
Over the years I've spent a fair amount of time among both "geeks" and
There are definitely many very intelligent people in those camps. However
there are relative few "geeks" who understand economics, law, or social
forces. The same can be said of the policymakers - there are many who's
depth of understanding of the Internet is no deeper than having an AOL
The voice of experts who know how a thing works, from top to bottom, is
essential. But our world is like the fabled elephant in the tale of the
blind men who each perceive the creature as only the small piece that they
can touch and do not comprehend the total. Those who are experts in one
field are often somewhat blind in other fields.
This is why we need governance by entities that strive for a synoptic view,
that operate on the basis of respect for all concerns and listen (and
consider) all voices. The organs of decision of such entities ought to be
filled with intelligent, open-minded generalists. Those generalists may
not comprehend the entire elephant, but they will know that whatever it is,
it is more than merely a tail or trunk or tree-like legs.
(This is part of the foundation of my argument that STEM education needs to
be balanced by a strong dose of liberal arts - we need to tune our
educations machinery to create those smart generalists.)
For many decades the Internet had an air gap from society. That gap no
longer exists. The Internet is now a fundamental critical infrastructure.
It is also being comprehended as a marvelous tool for control, data
gathering, public-opinion shaping, profit making, and a force in national an
Take the 5G push for example. At its edges it is starting to give off a
scent of attempting to be the new ISO/OSI. There's some good stuff in 5G,
as there was in ISO/OSI. But the decisions about deployment of 5G, it's
frequency bands, its use in vehicle-to-X communications, etc go well beyond
the merely technical.
If we let "the geeks" run the farm we can expect a lot of new Facebooks and
Zuckerbergs - lots of technology without comprehension of, nor care for,
the social impact.
Do we really want to resurrect a world run by trade guilds? Is one going
to be required to go through an new kind of apprenticeship in order to have
a say, a say that must be heard even if not accepted, in how we pull and
turn the levers and knobs of our networks, health systems, power grids,
food distribution systems, etc etc?
Democracy, whether direct or representative, is our imperfect answer. That
path is hard, slow, inefficient, and frustrating. But it is necessary.
We have to take care to learn from the past. We ought to take a lesson
from things like ICANN, where the voice of the public interest is muted
under thick layers of complicated procedures, costs of effective
participation, and competition from well-funded industrial interests.
On Sun, Jul 12, 2020 at 1:09 AM *the keyboard of geoff goodfellow
<geoff at iconia.com <geoff at iconia.com>> wrote:*
> *By enabling people and businesses to remain connected while under
> lockdown, the Internet has helped to prevent the global economy from
> collapsing entirely. And yet the engineer-led nonprofit organizations that
> oversee the stable functioning of the global Internet are again under
> The coronavirus pandemic has rapidly transformed the internet into the
> most critical infrastructure on Earth.
> By enabling people and businesses to remain connected while under
> lockdown, the internet has helped to prevent the global economy from
> collapsing entirely. Indeed, with fear and social distancing continuing to
> separate many of us, it has become the connective tissue for much human
> interaction and economic activity around the world.
> But few appreciate how this critical global resource has remained stable
> and resilient since its inception, even as its scope and scale have
> undergone uninterrupted explosive growth. In an age of widening political,
> economic, and social divisions, how has the “one internet” connecting the
> entire world been sustained? And how can we best continue to protect it?
> The answers to both questions start with understanding what makes the
> Internet — which consists of tens of thousands of disparate networks — look
> like and function as one network for all. These components, or unique
> internet identifiers, include Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, which are
> associated with every device connected to the internet, and internet domain
> names (like ft.com, harvard.edu or apple.news), which we use to search
> for and connect to computers easily.
> These unique identifiers ensure that, no matter where you are or which
> network you are connected to, you will always get in touch with the right
> computer with the desired domain name, or reach the right target device
> with an embedded IP number (such as a smart thermostat, for example). This
> simple, elegant architecture reflects the genius of a handful of brilliant
> engineers who created the internet a half-century ago. Since then, it has
> never failed to help us locate the billions of devices that have been added
> to the thousands of networks that make up today’s cyber economy. Should the
> identifiers fail, we would experience immediate digital chaos.
> Given the identifiers’ critical role, it is imperative that they not be
> compromised or controlled by any authority that is not committed to
> maintaining the internet as an open, global, common good. In the wrong
> hands, they could be used to fragment the Internet and enable top-down
> control of usage and users by governments with malign intentions. And such
> fears are real, given authoritarian governments’ online meddling in
> elections, national security networks and digital commercial transactions
> in the last few years.
> So, the key question is who should be entrusted today to maintain the
> security and reliability of internet identifiers. The answer is simple:
> geeks, not governments...
Geoff.Goodfellow at iconia.com
living as The Truth is True
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