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[ih] protocol structure -> economic structure

> Craig Partridge <craig at aland.bbn.com> wrote:
> >
> > Dave Clark has been giving speeches for about a decade on this issue.
> > He has a 2002 paper entitled "Tussle in Cyberspace" and the term
> > "tussle space" has some traction for discussions about the implications
> > of particular protocol designs.
> I think that's probably the paper I was struggling to remember, thanks!
> I've read John Day's book as well, though more recently. I think
> After a quick look to remind myself about Clark's paper, it's very much a
> manifesto for the future internet architecture projects, and about
> designing architectures to fit economics and politics. The reason I failed
> to find the word "architecture" when writing my original message was that
> last week I had been thinking in the opposite direction. That is, given
> a (set of) protocol(s), what is the implied architecture? What economic
> structures are likely to arise?

An excellent question and one DDC raises when he talks about tussles.

> For instance, the DNS's multi-component names are (in the protocol) always
> given as rooted, absolute paths, which implies a tree structure and
> therefore a hierarchial organization, and paternalistic / authoritarian
> politics. But if you make the names relative, that implies a rootless
> graph structure, a flatter organization, and a more libertarian /
> anarchist politics.

So DNS is an interesting example of unintended consequences.

DNS was a response to a scaling problem (a flat namespace administered and
controlled by one entity) and an attempt to distribute and decentralize
the namespace management (so the reverse of the hierarchical result you

The problem was, at the time, we didn't know how to build scalable, root-free
namespaces.  Grapevine showed that root-free namespaces were possible but
it had tremendous update costs.  So DNS had to have a root -- but the
expectation was that there would not be a lot of TLDS and by giving each
entity its own chunk of domain space, we'd achieved decentralization.

> Perhaps I'm taking this analogy too far. Another example (much more
> grounded in reality) was Dave Crocker's description of the Internet Mail
> architecture. Email has not been without architecture (the 821/822 split;
> X.400 but it has also been shaped a lot by external forces such as interop
> difficulties (late 1980s / early 1990s) and spam (which drove people to
> implement the architectural distinction between message submission and
> relay, amongst other things). So I suppose it would be informative to ask
> to what extent tussles moulded email, and to what extent email shaped
> those tussles.

An excellent question and not at all clear to me how to address it -- and I
wrote a history of email's technical development a few years ago (?!).