Giants, Dwarfs and Decentralized Alternatives to Internet-Based Services: An Issue of Internet Governance?
18 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2016
Date Written: 2013
This paper discusses some of the results of a five-year-long (and on-going) investigation of alternative approaches to the design of Internet services, based on decentralized network architectures. In particular, the paper focuses on the implications of this research for the study of Internet governance, inasmuch as architectural changes affect the repartition of competences and responsibilities between service providers, content producers, users and network operators; contribute to the shaping of user rights, of the ways to produce and enforce law; reconfigure the boundary between public and private uses of the internet as a global facility. The paper argues that delving into the tensions between the dwarfs and the giants of the Net – the tensions between different technical and organizational architectures, and their political consequences – helps to disengage from what is often a predominantly institutional view of Internet governance, to give the due emphasis to its less visible arrangements, its materiality and its practice.
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