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Re: <nettime> 'IANA' to revoke .su ccTLD?
t byfield on Mon, 21 Oct 2002 13:02:42 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> 'IANA' to revoke .su ccTLD?


morlockelloi {AT} yahoo.com (Sun 10/20/02 at 09:50 PM -0700):

> >    readers or anyone else to worry about them. You see, it appears that
> >    ICANN is going to decide this intersting question in the usual way: in
> 
> This is good news.
> 
> Most recent networking development happened because of annoyance with
> something or someone. ICANN was surprisingly subtle and gentle so far and did
> not manage to piss off a critical mass. But there is a hope.
> 
> Alternative, cooperative non-centralised DNS management is available today.
> The required condition for wide adoption is still missing: annoyance with
> ICANN. I am not talking about ICANN critics (most of which have only one
> problem - they don't run ICANN themselves), but about majority of 'net users.

this last remark, in which you say that most of ICANN's critics are 
critical because they're not in the driver's seat, is *way* off the
mark. but no farther off the mark than your initial assessment that
the destruction of the .su ccTLD is 'good news.' it isn't.

ICANN's purview -- which can't be distinguished from its pathologi-
cal mission creep -- has spawned more and more critics. you can't 
really lump them together under the sign of pseudo-psychologism.

a surprising number of 'first-generation' critics are, basically, 
emotionally damaged by their efforts. i won't name names, but any-
one who's paid close attention will be able to think of a few can-
didates. on a basic human level, that's sad.

these people have, afaict, nothing to do with, say, the ccTLD man-
agers who rightly feel that ICANN has been trying to impose a one-
size-fits-all policy model on an incredibly diverse group, in ways
that (a) violate national sovereignty, (b) are economically debil-
itating, and/or (c) serve as a platform for the expansion of US IP
interests and approaches.

and the ccTLDs, in turn, tend not to be involved with the noncom-
mercial interests, who are a pretty fractious lot. they run the 
gamut from academic institutions of various sizes to independent 
ISPs (e.g., i represent thing.net on the NCDNHC) to public-inter-
est NGOs, etc. in fact, the incoherence of that constituency -- it
is, after, all based on a *negation* -- has resulted in a recent
proposal to split the constituency along more sensible, but even
less effective, lines.

and the ccTLDs and NCs have little in common with, say, the vari-
ous organizations that have been put out of business by ICANN's 
activities: the rooted .biz gTLD (which collided with an exist-
ing, albeit DOA, .biz), realnames and new.net (which are screwed
by the fiat of the 'one root' ICP-3), regland (shut down as a re-
sult of ICANN's general counsel threatening registrars over spec-
ulative advance registrations), etc, etc. -- that litany is too
boring to recite.

two eloquent critics were elected to ICANN's board: andy mueller-
maguhn, who represents a fairly radical european critique, and 
karl auerbach, who has recently argued that ICANN should be split
into three organizations, each charged with one aspect of ICANN's
purview. the fact that ICANN's intransigent belligerence has been
more successful than these critic's eloquence is, in itself, an
eloquent rebuttal of your argument. 

registrars -- and, indeed 'registries' (of which there's really
only one: versign) -- have different critqiues. and then there's
the *long*-standing debate about whether the majority of 'net-
users' = a hypothetical individual domain name holder constitu-
ency: in some ways, yes, and in some ways, no.

i suppose you can reduce this all to jealousy or somesuch, but
that rings of one my favorite lines, from marcel mauss: 'miscel-
laneous' is the signpost of ignorance.

this history is far too complex to say, 'ah, AT LAST they've gone
too far...' ICANN has gone too far too many times before, people
said EXACTLY what you just said, and ICANN won. that's *precisely* 
why they're going too far in this case. they *know* that people 
clinging to a ccTLD associated with the former soviet union won't 
be able to muster an effective response -- and that their loss will
serve as a de facto precedent.

i'm one of the critics who, in your view, is motivated by a desire
to be in charge of ICANN: if serving as an editor of ICANNwatch 
isn't a card-carrying certification as a critic, i don't know what
is... and you're waaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyy wrong. my opposition
is threefold: 

first, i'm philosophically and politically opposed to the idea that 
any single entity has the authority, directly or indirectly, to dic-
tate the meaning of an utterance. dictionaries are nice and teach-
ing is good (it's what i do), but culture *is* ambiguity. i this
arbitrary function is necessary, we should devolve our affairs so
that it's as close to the 'street' as possible. ergo, an organiza-
tion that unilaterally imposes enforceable administrative means to
reduce polysemic potential to IPR *on an international scale* prob-
ably shouldn't even exist. if this is the jealousy you diagnose, 
i'm jealous that i can't indulge in class betrayal.

second, the creation of an organization whose sole purpose is to 
conflate the universe of indexical/addressing techniques to a sin-
gle standard is in itself alarming. the fact of the matter is that
TCP/IP will prevail for many decades to come, for the same arbit-
rary reasons that what we now call 'telephony' achieved the domi-
nance of a technical standard: luck of the draw. the growing squab-
bles over google's proprietary techniques and opaque methods are
another example of this kind of winner-take-all popularity contest,
and the time will soon come when people wake up to the certain 
fact that google has been spooked and is fast becoming a para-MS.
i'm concerned about that, and not because i secretly want to run
google. ICANN's structural position, as both proxy for the USG and
as arbiter of US policy when it comes to acknowledging the exist-
ence of addressing mechnanisms, is a Bad Thing.

and third, naming issues are secondary to *numbering* issues, and 
ICANN is -- in theory -- in charge of allocating IP numbers as well. 
that puts it in a position, as the ENUM standard slowly rolls out, to 
play king-maker when it comes to the transmutation of POTS into more
advanced standards, such as VoIP. two years ago, if anyone had said
that ICANN would have gotten away with what it's gotten away with in
the past two years, i'd have asked them to pass the bong -- to my 
worst enemy. but ICANN succeeded again and again. there's an alarm-
ingly good chance that they'll continue to do so -- and that your
argument will end up on the dustheap of neo-trostskyism. sorry, but
that's not reducible to jealousy: again, devolving and dispersing
powers through a diverse 'ecology' is the rule that should prevail.

cheers,
t

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