[discuss] Rhetorical moves (was: Real world Impact of multiple roots)

Andrew Sullivan ajs at anvilwalrusden.com
Tue Jan 28 15:14:51 UTC 2014

On Tue, Jan 28, 2014 at 12:51:07PM +0000, Milton L Mueller wrote:
> This is what AT&T said about competing telephone systems 40 years
> ago. They were wrong. Interesting pre-emptive move for David to
> suggest that something he doesn't want cannot and should not even be
> studied.

Oh, for heaven's sake.  As has been pointed out, several times, this
is not a political but a mathematical question.  There's no
"pre-emptive move" here: you want to study alternatve mathematical
universes, go nuts.  But those of us who want to do useful work are
suggesting that it's a waste of time.  That is why …

> ago. And the techies on this list will insist that that layer of
> coordination is just the new root, thus "solving" the problem
> tautologically but overlooking the real institutional, economic and
> operational differences between coordination that is hierarchical
> and coordination that comes from bargains among autonomous actors.

… I point out this tautology.  It's not offered as a "solution", it's
offered as a constraint.  I'm also not saying, "Sorry, our
understanding of the physical laws of the universe means that you
personally can't go back in time," as some sort of political move to
shut people down.  I'm trying to make useful progress on problems we
have some hope of solving.  

Snide remarks about "the techies", I observe, are themselves an
interesting rhetorical move.  They're a way of dismissing empirical
objections as deluded and unrealistic.  "Those techies" are foolish
idealists, where as "we" understand the subtleties of the real world.
I do cheerfully admit that legislators will try to fix the value of
π.  I think it is not clear whether their efforts are successful in
the real world.

Anyway, as near as I can tell, ICANN _is_ the co-ordination locus for
bargains among autonomous actors.  You (and I) might not like the
particular shape of that bargaining space.  I cannot think of a
dimension in respect of the name space (note: numbers and protocol
registries are different) in which ICANN has done a really good job.
But it is by no means clear that any alternative that had to be worked
out among the various interests in this area would end up better.  And
given the (delusional, IMO) ideas about how much money there is to be
made in "having" a TLD, there are bound to be bad actors involved.
Therefore, you need a dispute resolution mechanism, whether it is in
the root we actually have or among pseudo-roots.  As soon as you get
that, I suggest that something not too dissimilar to ICANN is at least
a live possibility.  And if we had to work that out, we'd spend a lot
of time and effort just to arrive once again at the place we already



Andrew Sullivan
ajs at anvilwalrusden.com

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