Monday, July 18, 2005

Spinning The Web

Fresh from its failures in bringing stability to Haiti, ending Civil War in the Congo, and limiting the number of automatic weapons per person in Kosovo to 63, the United Nations has launched an ambitious new strategy. Rather than fixing things around the world that are broken, the organisation will turn its attentions to fixing things that are not broken. Although the UN could have decided to focus on lowering the speed of light at busy intersections, or ending mass poverty and homelessness in Switzerland, it has shrewdly decided to fix something that is not broken that will benefit all of mankind. The UN has decided to fix the Internet!

The focus of attention is an organization called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). This outfit manages a bunch of technical stuff that keeps a bit of order in the World Wide Web. Complicated things like IP Addresses, Protocols, Domain Names and Root Server Systems are all kept in line by ICANN. Basically they make sure that when you type in ‘The Magic of Christmas’ you don’t get a 45 minute video of Paris Hilton bonking the entire Brazilian Navy. Since this all works pretty well, it was obvious that a new UN group was needed; the Working Group on Internet Governance was born. After an extensive technical analysis of the Internet, which was based on reserving 1st class flights to Brussels on Expedia, the WGIG has released its first report from the Château de Bossey. (Unfortunately the Château de Bizeebodie was already booked by the EU Conference on Straight Lines.)

Four possible models for managing the Internet in the future have been suggested. 1. Replace ICANN with a Global Internet Council. 2. Replace ICANN with an International Internet Council. 3. Set up something to ‘address three interrelated areas of Internet policy governance, oversight and global coordination’. 4. Leave everything as it is and get on to the hors d’oeuvres and Chateau Petrus ’85. A separate Commission on Understanding WGIG Reports was established to study the difference between Model 1 and Model 2. Model 3 is on hold until Kojo Annan can set up something in a Swiss bank. Model 4 is on hold unless the US agrees to cover the $600 million cost of leaving everything as it is.

It will be difficult to satisfy everyone in this global effort. China wants a dramatic expansion of approved character sets. With an alphabet of between 40,000 and 80,000 characters they do have a point. On the other hand, the Chinese are not arguing for more IP addresses. The three they have, Central Party HQ, Army HQ, and Secret Police HQ, can easily manage 1.6 billion users. Japan wants bowing included in the protocols, Mexico wants uncontrolled migration of id’s to US root servers, and North Korea wants to nuke New Zealand if the Internet is actually implemented. In order to keep Tunisia in line, it was necessary to schedule the next meeting of the WGIG there. Taking a cue from Northern California, the country immediately launched a snappy advertising campaign entitled ‘Tunisia: Silicon Desert!’

In fact there actually may be an unspoken problem here that threatens the very core beliefs of the United Nations: ICANN is a non-profit organization. An unnamed a senior UN official told HI, ‘you’d have to be out your mind to solve the world’s problems without making a few bucks!’


Blogger Abby Taylor said...

Love it. I googled "The Magic of Christmas" and the video is a mere 20 minutes.

10:07 PM  
Blogger Whymrhymer said...

Simply brilliant!

You leave me smiling but also worried that the U.N. really will tamper with the Internet! Say it isn't so!!

12:03 AM  
Anonymous dv said...

I wonder if the UN got ICANN confused with I-CAN - the Disability Group.
Oh and whymrhymer - I'd be more worried that the EU (definitely not driven by Le Chauvinism Francais) would decide to set up its own competing organisation on the grounds of 'balance'.

3:44 AM  
Blogger Aginoth said...

you don't honestly expect the EU to be that organised...

EU (definition) A group of nations united by their dislike of the French.

The EU would take 10 years to decide what language it would be based on.

11:46 AM  
Blogger Ben Allbright said...

brilliant piece

8:33 PM  
Blogger Zipcard2 said...

Interesting....I would expect the UN to take over the internet, not change anything, create a name organization and oversee it, then take credit for it's success. Kind of lake Al Gore taking credit for inventing the internet.

10:38 AM  
Blogger Zipcard2 said...

typo there, I meant to say "kind of like"

10:40 AM  
Blogger birdwoman said...

I rather believe they'll change the name to Internet Corporation for Alpha Numeric Technology. The acronym will be much more apt for the new owners.


7:04 PM  

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