Audience: .

Question: Why is the Internet Good?


Internet Regulation

Internet behavior is regulated:

  1. law: n/a?
    "The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it." Gilmore.
  2. architecture: protocols (IETF, W3C)
    "Architecture is politics." Kapor.
  3. markets: consumption and production patterns
    "The Internet isn't free. It just has an economy that makes no sense to capitalism." Shapcott.
  4. social  norms: the Internet culture, maxims, and memes
    "Some jerk infected the Internet with an outright lie. It shows how easy it is to do and how credulous people are." Vonnegut.

On the Net, the architecture, markets, and memes have generally opposed regulation by law.

Questions of Governance

The Internet could  be characterized as anarchic:

"And, just to state the obvious, anarchy does not mean chaos nor do anarchists seek to create chaos or disorder. Instead, we wish to create a society based upon individual freedom and voluntary co-operation. In other words, order from the bottom up, not disorder imposed from the top down by authorities."  [A.1.1 What does "anarchy" mean? Anarchist FAQ]

Real World Governance

Internet Governance

Internet Policy Formation (1/2)

Primary Characteristics

"We reject kings, presidents and voting. We believe in rough consensus and running code." Clark.

Open Participation ("We")
citizen engineer:  citizen is a contributor to her space (lists, Web, MUD, FAQ)
Consensus. ("... believe in rough consensus ...")
is it good enough, does it merit moving on, are there show stoppers?
No Kings ("... reject kings, presidents and voting.")
consensus mediated by Elders, citizen engineers who built the space and institutions others inhabit.
Running Code / Implementation ("... believe ... in running code.")
all policy is tested by both its support and formulation through implementation

Internet Policy Formation (2/2)

Secondary Characteristics

Coercion and Lack of Chokepoint
there have been few formal institution that real world governments could coerce because institutions of Internet policy are decentralized and non-coercive themselves!
Limitation of Scope
most policy is explicitly scoped, defined, and conservative in its application.
Funded Mandates and Lack of Fiat
any change requires work and resources, as tested by running code and implementation.
Uniform Enforcement
policies cannot be selectively enforced as they are in the real world.
Veridical Policy
"your clickstream is your vote."
Policy Deprecation
old policies fade into the background