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Re: [ga] Older registrations


I want to congratulate you for providing a very interesting and useful
recounting of these events. Folks here may be interested to know that also I
have some stuff written about this at
http://www.flywheel.com/ircw/dnsdraft.html  and
http://www.flywheel.com/ircw/overview.html . 

Of course, you were there through the whole thing, and I was not until spring of
1997 (and it took me another few months after that to figure out why the
participants seemed to hate each others' guts so thoroughly). I am primarily
interested in assessing this in terms of the wider context of modern society and
social thought: namely, the big picture story about how computer engineers
engage in social architecture. But it's also important to have a clear view of
how the smaller pieces of the story fit together.

That said, I want to ask some questions and add one or two comments.

1) You said you opened up the original shared-tld mailing list. I'm afraid I
don't seem to have anything on that one. Can you point me to archives?

2) You mentioned a plan to create a small series of ad hoc committees. This is a
very important point, mentioned in the January 96 draft at
ftp://rg.net/pub/dnsind/relevant/draft-ymbk-itld-admin-00.txt . But the authors
were floating ideas. The same draft contemplates the alternative, creating a
more formal permanent body. What's your sense of who favored a permanent body at
the time, and who preferred the ad hoc approach?

3) One key point of controversy that I think needs emphasis was Postel's
motivation in finding alternative funding sources for the IANA and the
consequence of this. Some of the Spring 96 drafts contemplated a hefty fee for
blessing a new TLD registry, and this provoked heated opposition.  Isn't this
what prompted Denninger, Kashpureff and Fenello to try to go out on their own?

4) Ambler, on the other hand, recognized the potential windfall of obtainin an
official blessing that he could own .web, and he was more than willing to pay to
get it. Thus, as I see it, he tried to force a contract on Postel by way of
Manning. This is where personality makes a difference. Postel was by this time
apparently rather fed up and didn't want to be bothered; Ambler is one of the
most aggressive people you'll ever meet; and Manning is the archetypal nice guy
who is uncomfortable saying no to people. He said no to Ambler's entreaties at
least once that fateful day, but Ambler kept up the pressure, and (with
everybody buzzing on the MSG from too much Chinese food?) Manning finally
succumbed, accepting a sealed envelope that Ambler calls an application fee. At
least Manning kept enough good sense to sign nothing. Postel intervened the next
day, sent back the envelope to Ambler, and announced that no commercial
applications were being accepted. (Unfortunately, I just discovered that the
link at umich.edu that I used to cite Postel's email to this point is no longer

5) I don't know how much CORE pressured Postel to reorient part of the root. I
do know that Vixie and others had been pressuring him for some time (years) to
take control of the dot, because they didn't trust NSI. If CORE (or CORE
supporters) were pressuring Postel in early 98, which certainly seems plausible,
it is clear that who ever was doing that was simultaneously escalating that
popular old anti-NSI rationale, offering scenarios that NSI was on the verge of
adding its own selection of private TLD operators to the root. It would be great
to know more about the evolution of those rumours, and Postel's private
reflections about what happened. 

6) At the time it seemed like he had to eat crow, but the consequence has at
least one healthy aspect. If there can't be some adhoc process controlled by the
IETF/IAB/ISOC crowd, it won't be controlled by NSI, or by the USG acting
cavalierly either (as it did when NSF first allowed NSI to start charging).
Postel's move forced the USG to pay even closer attention, and to tread
carefully, and it forces everybody else involved to seriously consider what it
means to have a legitimate formal process for governing key elements of the
Internet's most hierarchical feature. Even if this means endorsing some kind of
proprietary pioneer preference for gTLDs (which I don't prefer, sorry), at least
and at last the rule would be openly and widely stated.

Craig Simon
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