'Committees of Correspondence'
statements by network governance players
interacting on email mailing
compiled as a report for Esther
This Report Echoes History
DNS players voicing opinions on electronic mailing lists
bear a striking similarity to the colonial American
voices speaking out two centuries ago in the "committees
of correspondence" arguing the questions of liberty in
the years before Thomas Paine published Common Sense.
Where once a handwritten letter
traveling by horseback took weeks to arrive, now email
traveling via the Internet arrives on the desktop in
seconds. Technologies have changed, yet the core problems
of human governance remain the same.
When reading the statements
posted here from today's autocrats and technocrats,
free-market freebooters, privatization privateers, raging
rebels, and the voices for network democracy seeking an
Internet constitution, hear the echoes of history.
of this Report for Esther Dyson
Esther Dyson visited the Tattered Cover bookstore in
Denver in November 1997 to read from her book, Release
2.0, we spoke about network governance after her
presentation. She knew me from the interview we'd done
earlier for my "TV Visions" column (published
here). I wondered, where
does she stand?
She supported the principle of
"open systems and decentralized architecture" in the
"domain name space." As for the politics surround the
"gTLD-MoU," she'd been too busy traveling in Eastern
Europe to monitor recent event, so I offered to send her
some telling comments from the debate. She accepted my
Selecting from among thousands
of listserv messages was too daunting, so I posted a
notice on three mailing lists where DNS players interact,
inviting short position statements from competing camps
to be bundled and forwarded to Esther Dyson. In
consideration of her time, I asked folks to keep it
brief, offending some verbose players. The notice
generated more than 200 pieces of email, distilled into
the 21 statements published here. (Each player approved
his or her statement before publication.) Their arguments
represent a cross-section of competing visions contending
for power over the network affecting us all.
We Need to Hear These Voices
after these reports were collected and edited in late
1997, the Clinton White House, through the leadership of
Ira Magaziner, published its "Green Paper" on DNS
governance, which supplanted the "gTLD-MoU"
as the leading proposal on the table. This was followed
by a "White Paper," which led in late 1998 to the
establishment of ICANN,
the Internet Corporations for Assigned Names and Numbers.
ICANN's critics contend the organizations has been
by the same group of players behind the "gTLD," many of
them present here.
to discuss Network Governance?
The comments published in this
report provide a snapshot of viewpoints during those
pivotal months before the Green Paper. Without
understanding the visions voiced in this assembly of
position statements, ICANN cannot truly make sense.
Therefore, more than having raw historic value, this
sampling of voices from our modern "committees of
correspondence" offer rare insights into the powerful
media "evolution revolution" now transforming our
Whose vision for the Internet do
you favor? Know the minds of these key media visionaries
to know what they have in mind for us all.
and learn, grow in
wisdom, then take
Judah Ken Freed
from the 'Committees of