The internet has changed and evolved ever since it’s ancestors first came to life in the late 1960’s. Some technology fades away and is forgotten; other aspects continue but are overlaid, like geological sediments, so that they are now longer visible but are still present under the surface.
The Domain Name System - both the technology of DNS and the deployed naming hierarchy we all use - are among those aspects of the internet that, although they feel solid and immutable, are slowly changing underneath our feet.
Articles, blogs, and
meetings about the internet of the future are
filled with happy, positive words like “global”, “uniform”, and “open”.
The future internet is described in ways that seem as if taken from a late 1960’s Utopian
sci-fi novel: the internet is seen as overcoming petty rivalries between countries,
dissolving social rank, equalizing wealth, and bringing universal justice.
If that future is to be believed, the only obstacle standing between us and an
Arcadian world of peace and harmony is that the internet does not yet reach everyone, or that
network carriers are unfairly giving different treatment to different kinds of traffic, or that
evil governments are erecting “Great Walls”, or that IPv6 is not yet everywhere, or that
big companies are acquiring top level domains, or that encryption is not ubiquitous …
The list goes on and on.
I do not agree.
I do not believe that the future internet will be a Utopia.
Nor do I believe that the future internet will be like some beautiful angel, bringing peace, virtue, equality, and justice.
Instead I believe that there are strong,
probably irresistible, forces working to lock-down and partition the internet.
I believe that the future internet will be composed of “islands’.
These islands will tend to coincide with countries, cultures, or companies.
There will be barriers between these islands.
And to cross those barriers there will be explicit bridges between various islands.
Network traffic that moves over these bridges will be observed, monitored, regulated, limited, and taxed.
The future internet will be used as a tool for power, control, and wealth.
And to a large degree the users of this future internet will not care about this.
This paper describes this future - a future more likely than the halcyon world painted by others.
I have reworked the old, Joomla based, CaveBear website.
It took a lot of work.
A lot of URLs got changed, thus breaking external links.
And I am sure that a lot of small adjustments remain to be done.
The old one was not broken.
So why did I break a perfectly good website?
Well, I’ll tell you why.
It all begins with the idea that much of the content of today’s world-wide-web will disappear.
Who or what is CaveBear? The "where" part is easy: 37° 00’ 02 North by 122° 00’ 59 West - which just so happens to be in the City of Santa Cruz in the State of California.
CaveBear was formed by me, (Karl Auerbach) in Mid 1994.
CaveBear is an organization for research, consulting, product development, and other matters related to the internet. CaveBear explores new ways of making the Internet a more useful place for people. Projects include:
Tools for network diagnosis and repair.
The homeostatic (self-healing) internet.
Lifeline grade internet services.
Capability computer architectures and operating systems.
So, I bet the first thing you want to know is what I look like. The photo on the left is nearly a decade old, but I like it. The vicissitudes of Internet politics, life at startups, and life in general have left me with a bit more gray around the edges.
Some people have said "Karl is a crock".
And I’m here to say that they are right… sort of…
Yes! That that is me over there to the lower right.
I was understudy crocodile in a production of Peter Pan.
It is true that I hold some strong opinions. This website is full of materials that articulate and elaborate on those opinions so I won’t go into a lot of detail here except to say that I firmly believe that modern governance - political and of the internet - is in serious trouble unless we abandon the corrosive concept of stakeholderism and return to the principles of constrained government and separation of powers, as articulated by so many of the great thinkers of the 18th century.