How The U.S. Government Undermined the Internet?

Via Slashdot, “How The U.S. Government Undermined the Internet“:

“sakshale writes ‘The Register has an article about U.S. Government backed policy changes that have led ICANN to redeligate top level domains in such a way as to provide ‘greater state-controlled censorship on the internet, reduce people’s ability to use the internet to communicate freely, and leave expansion of the internet in the hands of the people least capable of doing the job” More from the article: ‘At that meeting, consciously and for the first time, ICANN used a US government-provided reason to turn over Kazakhstan’s internet ownership to a government owned and run association without requiring consent from the existing owners. The previous owners, KazNIC, had been created from the country’s Internet community. ICANN then immediately used that ‘precedent’ to hand ownership of Iraq’s internet over to another government-run body, without accounting for any objections that the existing owners might have.'”

You know, on the face of it …

But, turning over the country root to the country instead of leaving it with a private entity that happened to get control of it isn’t as odd or unreasonable as one might expect. For example, if I remember this correctly, the sub-domains within the US tld that are assigned to cities and counties have been offered to private companies for management, but it’s at the whim of the governmental entity. If a city objects to the entity handling the sub-domain, the private entity really can’t keep possession of the tld.

So, claiming that sovereign control of a country’s own tld should somehow be withheld from the country itself seems a bit suspect of, at best, noblesse oblige. There’s an agenda there that isn’t mentioned. The country tld isn’t owned by the private entity, really. They are just squatters if they don’t have the backing of the country for whom they manage the domain.

And since when has the ownership of domains and the private control of a registry ever been all that great a thing? The creation of the monster Network Solutions out of the corpse of InterNIC is a good thing? Well, InterNIC was not an ideal to be cheered or lauded either, but ICANN at least is an attempt to address the excess power of corporations over the naming system. They have been, sort of, maybe, at least they are giving it the old college try, taking the control of the root servers and the registries away from a centralized, single corporation. Why then does it seem odd that they would do the same for a country tld?

Also, the naming system isn’t the thing that makes the Internet work. Sure, it’s a layer that helps people, who for some reason just don’t remember 32-bit numbers very well unless they have help, connect a name to an IP address, but even if the naming system were to go down completely the Internet itself would keep routing traffic. Now, where the trouble comes is in the way that services are discovered both programatically and personally through the naming system, for example looking up MX records to route mail or the use of the hostname www to designate a web server’s IP address.

Control over the naming system can create difficulty, but it’s not the end of the Internet. That’s a bit of a red herring, because it’s the filtering and traffic shaping that’s the biggest threat, the way that the large corporations would love to balkanize the traffic they transit, creating service tiers and refusing to carry traffic with neutrality across their networks. Now, that’s a serious threat.

There are no clean hands here. To claim that the corporations are the best protectors of the Internet is completely unreasonable. It is in a stalemate between the corporations and the governments that is likely to keep the ecotone vital, that place where there is space for freedom on the network.

Moving the service to the public peering points

Via Slashdot, “Google’s Secret Plans For All That Dark Fiber?“:

“The idea is to plant one of these puppies anywhere Google owns access to fiber, basically turning the entire Internet into a giant processing and storage grid. While Google could put these containers anywhere, it makes the most sense to place them at Internet peering points, of which there are about 300 worldwide.”

Via Slashdot, there’s a comment about a Cringley article talking about something that Google is up to with both dark fiber, that I mentioned before, and what may essentially be semi-mobile processing and storage borg cube. These borg cubes then become a platform for just about anything. Certainly, they can cache the google video and image content closer to the users which are becoming more and more capable of broadband speeds. Google could also leverage the cubes for delivery services, like what Akamai does or acting like active peers in BitTorrent or other sharing networks. These borg cubes could also become hosting locations for network applications or more mundane web and blog services.

Moreover, along with just about anything the imagination could conjure, these cubes could become the host of a Google VOIP service and act as the peering points for Google MuniWiFi services. (One might watch to see if they put one of these cubes at the peering point for any place where they’ve implemented their MuniWiFi.)

Instead of moving the network connection to the public peering site, Google might be moving the services to the public peering site and using the fiber as a private network.

UPDATE 7jan06: Well, looks like I was close with the comment about caching video closer to the users, but didn’t quite see that they would be going after the pay-to-play / TV downloads market.

There’s gold in them there network packets

Via Business Week, At SBC, It’s All About “Scale and Scope”:

“So there’s going to have to be some mechanism for these people who use these pipes to pay for the portion they’re using. Why should they be allowed to use my pipes?

The Internet can’t be free in that sense, because we and the cable companies have made an investment and for a Google or Yahoo! (YHOO ) or Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes [for] free is nuts!”

Here’s a returning argument that was used by MCI many years ago, and I recalled in a posting about the tussle between Cogent and Level 3.

Ars Technica responds,

“… he [CEO Edward Whitacre] leaves out the most important part: their customers. It’s SBC’s DSL customers who are paying to “use these pipes,” and the idea that certain kinds of usage are categorically different than others has a fair share of problems.”

A related argument is about the way in which ISPs have been asked, on occasion, to pay additional taxes to offer Internet services, such as when the city of Tacoma, WA has attempted to tax ISPs. The problem is that ISPs already pay taxes for each phone line, at that time it was all about dial-up, and various other fees. For example, ISPs were still paying for 911 services for every line POTS line.

On Fark.com, “[Interesting] Two companies come to an agreement that will keep a large chunk of the Internet from collapsing like it did last month

This thing between Level 3 and Cogent isn’t the first peering issue. There have been others, like when several backbone carriers threatened to start charging to transit non-local traffic. I think that was MCI, which at the time essentially was the backbone. Slightly different was the issue when some podunk ISP in Florida had munged BGP locally and the damage got propagated such that huge swaths of the Internet got routed down to some tiny ISP …

This is what the public peering points were supposed to be for, but they were always seriously overloaded. Internap’s big entry into the market was all about private peering agreements in order to bypass the public peering points, in order to route more efficiently.

But, here’s the delayed consequences of relaxing the commercial rules about the use of the Internet back before the big expansion in 1995. I’m not saying the change was necessarily bad, but the public and open infrastructure has become increasingly privatized and negotiated. If two companies can de-peer each other and isolate entire islands of the Internet, then the power of the protocol to route around fault is at risk. The inherent strength of the Internet to withstand disruption of specific nodes and routes is compromised. If the physical structure of peering is such that it is no longer possible to route around damage, then the whole infrastructure is at risk.

Google has been buying dark fibre, and there’s a whole lot of dark fibre. Fibre in the ground was one of the big projects during the technical boom, but it’s managed like the diamond or oil supply: supply is kept back in order to manage prices and profit. So lots of fibre was put in the ground, but left dark. Now, Google has been buying it. They’ve certainly got reason, by way of massive amounts of content being served, to want their own network with private peering agreements.

However, it seems to me that dark fibre should really become the new highway system, not even more private toll-roads on an already endangered system of information transportation.

Don’t let the border-crossing hit your behind, on the way out.

Via Microsoft on thin ice with S. Korea threat | News.blog | CNET News.com

After a four-year investigation of Microsoft by the South Korean Fair Trade Commission (KFTC), the software giant has threatened to take its ball and go home. The commission is looking into whether Microsoft’s inclusion of its instant messaging software and media player in Windows violates the country’s antitrust laws. In a new turn, Microsoft has said it may be forced to withdraw Windows from South Korea entirely if the KFTC requires it to tailor a version of Windows specifically for the country.

First off, let me boggle about the fact that a company is bluffing an entire country. Globalization in action.

Next, let me get excited that if MS were to do what it is threatening to do, then all those great Korean MMO games would likely move to either Linux or Mac OS X. Now, there’s something to get excited about.

On the other hand, if MS can’t bluff the state of Massachusetts, why does it think it can bluff South Korea?

But, they as much as say that they aren’t going to do it. They say “we’ll pull Windows from your country … or, um, maybe … we’d release a version with different features.” That’s a pretty weak threat, really.

It’s not that much different than how MS supports standards of any kind, just that this standard is a minimal set. MS will implement a standard in a poor way on their system, then point to the straw-man they have created as proof that their own proprietary format is better than the standard. Just one example, look at how the implementation of IMAP in MS products silently unsubscribes the client from shared namespaces. Why? Because it’s competition for Exchange. So, they can claim IMAP support, but not deliver to the client some of the most advanced features. Or, for that matter look at CSS support or the failure to offer PNG support in IE … the list goes on.

So, they threaten, well, offer to support a minimal set of features, and they will do everything they can to make it an annoyingly poor implementation and then whine and prevaricate about how horrible this is in comparison to the full feature set they would have implemented, if it hadn’t been for that interference.

Just read the old articles about MS in court about removing IE, and there’s the pattern of their argument there too.

On the upside, there’s no installation disks …

Via digg, “Microsoft Office 13 will be a Web Application!“:

“No more installed apps on your machine. Everything is going to the web for Microsoft (from an official Microsoft source).”

This isn’t the first time they’ve suggested this kind of move to hosted applications, although one might be forgiven for believing that previously it was FUD against thin clients. Is this FUD against the Google application rumours?

Also, it worked so well to move to a network model when Corel tried to do it with WordPerfect. There was also the Seattle-based company, was it Netdesk, that’s now purely a training company? They actually had a nice product back in the late 90’s. Seems like the Webcrossing people have been trying to make a network desktop of a sort for a while now.

Maybe, just maybe the apps will be on the network, but they will rely on local code, probably insecure code too. Also, people will never want to give up that last bit of illusion about ownership of the product, or trust their data to completely non-local storage.

UPDATE: Ha, someone else notices the similarity to some old promises. I was going to mention Hailstorm in this post originally, but didn’t. The one that got away, I suppose. CNET has an article about the connection, and how everything old is new again, “Windows Live rooted in MSN’s past“.

“Open the pod bay doors, Hal.” – “I’m sorry. I can’t do that, Dave.”

Via Daring Fireball, “Is That a Podcast in Your Pocket?“:

“Devising and using a new term for ‘podcasting’ that doesn’t use ‘pod’. Good luck with that, considering that everyone — everyone — who is publishing podcasts is already calling them ‘podcasts’.

[Update: According to this story in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Microsoft employees are pushing ‘blogcasting’ as a ‘pod’-free alternative.]”

What about “enclosures” for that name? That’s the actual tag in RSS, I think. And, the enclosures are part of blogs themselves, or at least within feeds.

Then again, there’s the Firefly “wave” thing … that could be used to mean anything that is sent. Why have specific names for each type? I want it to be agnostic so that no one gets stuck thinking the only thing that can be send is an audio file, or just audio and pdf, or whatever. It’s an all around mechanism.

Also, I’d rather see that everyone adopt bittorrent links instead of actual files enclosed. Also, I’d like to see enclosures treated like mime parts under IMAP, where each can be downloaded independently, not required as in attachments under POP.

Update: yeah, I don’t know what I was thinking. files aren’t included in the feed, links are enclosed which can be used to get to files.

homepage and the dialectic between honesty vs truth

Last night, I watched “homepage” which is an interesting documentary about the early culture that surrounded the web, the revolutionary fanaticism, and a bit about its demise.

However, there was a part that had me thinking about some stuff from my own past, actually previous to all the events of the movie.

honesty vs. truthfulness is an interesting topic. If one accepts that they are not identical, one wonders how much truth is necessary for complete honesty, and if it’s possible to have truth without honesty. Is truth communicated by the non-present presenter still honesty, when not professed? As the better part of valour is restraint, is that also the better part of honesty in regards to the truth?

I’ve suspected that moderation in all things is a guiding principle. Not that it means moderation in _all_ things, but rather _moderation_ in all things. The difference being that it’s not necessary to partake of everything in moderation, but rather to be moderate in all things in which one partakes.

I had written a bit on this topic.

Strong Drink, 1993 (c) j g bell

it is a strong drink
to drown adultery in drunkenness
it is a stronger drink
to face my lover’s face with honesty
stronger than fidelity
it is an even stronger drink
to drink to my own weakness

it is a great grief to me
to weakly write myself
into my father part
it is a greater grief to me
to strongly write my lover
into my mother part
it is the greatest grief to me
to wholly write my past
into my future past

there is no art in drink
there is no salvation in sorrow
there is no love in lies
there is no love in lies
there is no love in lies

I’ve learned my sorrow from my father
I’ve learned myself from my sorrow
I’ve learned to lie from myself
I’ve learned myself from my lie

there is no love in lies
but honesty ruins love with revealed lies
there is no love in lies
but justice ruins love with concealed lies
there is no love in lies

there is no salvation in sorrow
but somehow sorrow saves lovers from future pain
there is no salvation in sorrow
but somehow suffering saves me from future pain
there is no salvation in sorrow

there is no art to drink
but drink can remind me to forget
there is no art to drink
but drink can force me to sleep
there is no art to drink

it is a strong drink
to drown adultery in drunkenness
it is a stronger drink
to face my lover’s face with honesty
stronger than fidelity
it is an even stronger drink
to drink to my own weakness
my honesty stronger than the lie
will ruin my love and with this in mind
I will tell the truth in time