Pragmatism (was Re: [ppml] Re: 2005-1:Multi-national Business Enablement)

Tom Vest tvest at
Mon May 9 17:16:09 EDT 2005

On May 9, 2005, at 4:10 PM, Edward Lewis wrote:

> At 14:07 -0400 5/9/05, Tom Vest wrote:
>> First, the only slightly tongue-in-cheek response: do you think the  
>> ITU would
>> be (or be perceived to be) doing as well with their number management  
>> if 8-9
>> new sovereign states were added to the international system every  
>> day? That's
>> the situation that the RIRs face, because -- at least in some places  
>> -- the
>> barriers to becoming a network operator are relatively low. In  
>> perhaps half of
> Well, my question was more about what drove the desires, but you've  
> brought up something that does differentiate between the RIR approach  
> and the ITU approach.
> What's interesting is that the difference here relates to barriers of  
> entry, but is much the same as the difference between fundamental  
> technical differences between telephony's time (or wave) division  
> multiplexing and computer network on-demand (ALOHA-like) methods of  
> sharing a medium.  Hmmm.

you could almost call something like this "logical multiplexing" ;)
(apropos previous shameless self-promotion)

> I was thinking that one difference was the fixed size of address (in  
> IP) versus variable (tel nos.).  Because phone numbers aren't fixed  
> length, assigning country codes is plausible.  With fixed lengths, it  
> isn't so much.
> But having to deal with players coming and going - and all the  
> associated security, economic, and business state being established  
> and dismantled - that the environment is much harder to deal with. (If  
> you can count the game's participants, it's much easier to predict the  
> outcome.)
>> How many new sovereign national entities do you see being created  
>> every day
>>  -- every century?
> One could make a snide remark about "regime change" directives. ;)

That might count as "change of management," much less frequently M&A,  
but almost never devolution resulting in a larger number of basic  
entities afterward. We get nine new networks a day, and rising.

>> system -- but almost no one's buying. I'll spare you the academic  
>> citations,
>> but the point is that "national resource alignment" is essentially a
>> conservative strategy, not a strategy for growth. Strict national  
>> resource
>> alignment is not an efficient way of organizing a system that grows in
>> response to transnational supply and demand -- like the conventional  
>> economy,
>> like the Internet. It is, however, a good strategy for perpetuating  
>> national
>> power.
> I don't need the citations, I wholeheartedly agree with this.
> At one time I was convinced the following was a paraphrased quote of  
> Samuel Morse (telegraph dude), but have yet to find a citation - and I  
> have tried -
> "Innovation is stymied because there comes a time when to deploy it  
> fully you need the capitalization owned by the proponents of the  
> status quo.  Not until the status quo proponents have figured out how  
> to use the innovation to their own benefit will the capital appear."  
> The quoted words were much better...
> IOW - Nations (or the people in power) will want to see the Interent  
> administered (I'm avoiding "governed") in a way that perpetuates their  
> power.  I think that's only natural.  The (rhetorical) question is how  
> does the Internet grow with or inspite of this, without killing the  
> benefit (real or perceived, past or future) of the innovation?
> I suppose you could boil down my question to - it's not that the ITU  
> is "backwards" for being so nationalistic, it's that the Internet  
> Community (TM) needs to figure out how to continue to be innovative  
> with the nationalistic reality.

I wholeheartedly agree back. Neither government(s) nor the ITU are  
stupid or evil; both have done lots of good in their time/place, also  
lots of harm at other times. Change is upon us, and it is incumbent  
upon everyone to think about what to do about it. I will do something  
even more unexpected and paraphrase Hans Klein and Milton Mueller,  
about the appropriate prerequisites for greater government involvement  
in Internet policy:

" cannot expect a government to apply competition law  
evenhandedly to a monopoly enterprise created by the government or a  
state-owned enterprise in which the government has a substantial  
economic stake. If governments want to (have greater authority over  
Internet policy) they have to get out of its day to day workings."*

In other words, governments should be expected to choose between  
Internet roles -- player or referee, but not both. To demand both  
engenders a conflict of interest that is inconsistent with good  
governance in any sector.


*This is generalized from a statement about ICANN reform in "What to Do  
About ICANN: A Proposal for Structural Reform," online at:

> --  
> -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- 
> =-=-=-
> Edward Lewis                                                 
> +1-571-434-5468
> NeuStar
> If you knew what I was thinking, you'd understand what I was saying.
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