Rory Solomon on Sun, 19 Dec 2010 11:19:06 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Wikileaks and Protocol

Hi Joss,

Thanks for the posting. I think this is a great point and important to
bring up.

One thing worth emphasizing straightaway is that that comment from
Protocol references an excellent article called "DNS: A short history
and a short future" by Ted Byfield, a colleague of mine here at
Parsons / The New School, and a former co-moderator of this mailing

But I think your comment really speaks to the core of the issue. I
think if there is one flaw with *Protocol* it is that for the most
part we are actually not yet experiencing the "distributed" model that
the book spends most of the time discussing. We're still somewhere
back in the decentralized model. I cannot connect to your computer
directly, I would connect to you through some Internet backbone server
-- the network of networks is decentralized, but still oriented a
highly hierarchical notion of a center. And for access to it, I pay
Time Warner $45 / month. And there is really no way around that.

DNS is another example that illustrates this perfectly. Highly

There are efforts like this one:
to create a distributed P2P DNS system. I'm very excited by this
project, although I know there have been projects similar to it before
that have failed.

However this is a great point:

the hierarchical structure of control of DNS seems to have shifted to
the hierarchical control of Google.

I agree that it is almost as if search already has created a de facto
distributed DNS. The name of something is simply the name as it is
defined by a critical mass of other people.

Of course now we are in even deeper trouble than before. At least DNS
was somewhat "transparent". If search is the new de facto DNS then
we're even more beholden to Google than we thought.

So this just begs the question: can we come up with a truly
distributed search! I know of some projects attempting to do this.
Like: but I don't have a sense of how
much traction they have.

And anyway, you probably see where I'm going with this. If Wikileaks
leaves any lasting legacy it will be to catalyze discussion around
another point from *Protocol*, which is essentially a reframing of
McLuhan's remediation for the network age: every protocol contains
within it another. And as such, the true point of resistance is not
Wikileaks, nor DNS, nor search. To realize a truly open or public net
would require building a truly distributed rhizomatic infrastructure
all the way down. So perhaps Wikileaks and the markedly *not* free
and open response it received from the businesses that run the
pseudo-public space that we call the Internet will help to mobilize
efforts like Peter Sunde's P2P-DNS, or a distributed search, or a
distributed social network like Diaspora, etc etc. Anyone wanna help
me set up a long range ad hoc wireless mesh network? P2P backbone.

To end with a humorous counter-example, did anyone follow this recent
drama around NY Times, Google, and Vitaly Borker?
bad-for.html Basically, the New York Times reported on a Brooklyn
ecommerce eyeglass merchant who got high google search results
by being a jerk. Few days later, google publishes that blog post
explaining how upset the article made them and how they re-worked
their search algorithm(!) to exclude Borker and people like him.

While most of us would agree it's probably nicer not to have this
guy on google page 1 anymore, in a way, this is precisely the same
circumstance as Wikileaks / Amazon but on a smaller scale.

Essentially, what kind of protocological system do we have when one
can be perfectly compliant with the protocol, only to wake up one day
and see how easily it can be modulated right around you.

cheers -

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