Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Rise of the Multinets

BBC article on the break-up of the Internet.

Strikes me there are some interesting analogies.

1. Perhaps this is natural evolution, based purely on the size of the internet and the need for a fractal evolution of hierarchies. Just as some communities and some companies "split off" once they get to a certain size - to avoid conflicts, inefficiency, etc - so maybe the Internet is reaching the point where the multitude of "communities", which until now have happily fenced off their own internet space but which have also subscribed/agreed to this fencing off process, has grown beyond the ability to solve scalability using the existing technology.

2. The emergence of troubles as the result of increased usage/expansion by different cultures, and what's effectively an emergent conflict arising from scale of same, could I think be said to mirror the trend for "globalisation" off-line.

Multiculturalism is a "problem" that we haven't had to face before - each to their own, but only so long as there's enough space and the networks that our infrastructure consists of allow it. However, the solutions have the potential to be very different. I see technological solutions - at least at first - to an on-line clash of culture, especially as the culture is embedded in the technology to begin with. Such a path is harder to take in the real world.

However, following the "Balkanisation" outlined in the article, the issue of network borders rears its head, of course. How will data get "translated" between networks? Who controls this translation? In other words, there is a whole bunch more scope for the economic kind of activities we currently see between real world borders - exchange rates (why buy a service on Internet A when you can get it cheaper on Internet B?) and sanctions (cutting communications/translations for various normative purposes) for example.

All of a sudden, the politics that we deal with on a day to day basis, but that we think the Internet is safe from, are very much in play again. The more things change...?

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