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Re: ten years worth of research into the possible future ofthe net

Well Esther, the text below may have been easier to read as an HTML page, but 
this is what you requested...the LIVE links for those mentioned below may 
still be found in the HTML version of this page at 

-- JR
Some Ideas for ICANN

Sorry my response took so long Esther. 

I confess I have not followed all ICANN-related developments in detail up to 
now, though I am vaguely aware of various ongoing conflicts with the present 
domain registrar and the USA government (DOJ and Commerce), as well as 
financing difficulties for ICANN. 

Below is a hurried summary of ideas which I feel might offer something to 
ICANN's present and future (due to time constraints I have included very few 
supporting references here): 


Table of Contents

*   Possible financial (and 'soft money') support devices for ICANN 

*   Raising ICANN's profile and perceived importance among the populace 

*   Widening and improving the definition of ICANN's stated goals to gather 
mass support of all kinds 


Possible financial (and 'soft money') support devices for ICANN

Hopefully there will develop a consensus among private concerns and/or 
political ones to suitably finance ICANN soon. If not, perhaps ICANN can 
continue to seek financing on its own (as well as increase pressure on the 
sources mentioned before to reverse their decisions). 

#1: Other potential sources for funds for some non-profits may be available 
at the links below: 
PhilanthropySearch - The First Search Engine for the Non-Profitand 
Philanthropic Sector
Funders Online - Search Europe's Online Philanthropic Community. 
(I hope the links haven't broken since I found them). 

#2: Utilize affiliate and/or reverse affiliate programs where possible; web 
sites/shareware/freeware authors which volunteer to show ads for ICANN 
sites/services for free... 

In a 'reverse' affiliate program ICANN itself might receive payments either 
financial or in like advertising from other organizations in either or both 
profit and non-profit seeking ventures. 

Yes, to fully exploit this ICANN might have to further develop its own web 
site-- but ICANN may be in a unique position to do so, and enjoy resources 
far beyond what other orgs might today. Perhaps not in money, but in 
influential associations and promotional and deal-maker friends, who perhaps 
might be able to not only raise ICANN's profile with the public in a 
beneficial manner (adding to your negotiating clout), but arrange many 
lucrative deals as well, which would not necessarily rile the feathers of 
various politicos. 

[jump off sources include........."[affiliates programs]...are not used 
widely enough, even though they are one of the most effective Web marketing 
tools...An affiliates program is a way for sites to pay for incoming 
"[the]...Future of Affiliates Programs...[includes]...a central site that 
manages affiliates programs....the payments will be centralized so that 
payments of a single cent become feasible...integrated with micropayment 
schemes...used not just for the sales of products but also for the sales of 
content and services...Advanced programs will support multi-level referral 
fees.... increased focus on the life-time value of a referred customer 
instead of the narrow focus on immediate sales..." 

Many affiliates programs of the future will continue to operate somewhat 
outside of direct monetary transactions (such as banner/advertising exchanges 
or higher frequency news updates or wider/deeper access to otherwise 
restricted content) due to substantial indirect benefits which may be 
realized for all participants, such as building and maintaining brand 
recognition and traffic, customer loyalty, and more. 
-- "Affiliates Programs" (Sidebar to the section on Web marketing in Jakob 
Nielsen's column on Web research); Alertbox July 1999, useit.com] 

#3: Also do not neglect the possibility of willing and able volunteers to 
maintain a more ambitious site for ICANN, or perhaps serve as temporary or 
low cost help around the offices. I assume you're familiar with the various 
co-op programs various corporations have with college students and others. 

#4: Maintain a policy to periodically give any surplus monies possibly 
collected to various charities or use in providing online access to 
disadvantaged schools. Note this policy should help encourage donations or 
other support. 

Keep in mind that the process of gathering financial support can also be 
helped by having a higher profile for the organization, and a better known 
definition of its aims (see below). 
Ideas for ICANN Contents 


Raising ICANN's profile and perceived importance among the populace

You probably have associates much better versed in marketing and promotion 
than I to help here. But here's a few ideas anyway. Several are pretty 
innocuous and shouldn't raise anyone's hackles. And most all could easily fit 
with the suggested expanded agenda for ICANN. 

#1: Publish a regular email newsletter from ICANN. 

#2: Establish associations with 'how-to' content producers that help web 
newbies and author want-to-be's, by setting up a 'portal' of sorts to help 
streamline web publishing and domain name acquisition for novices. 

#3: Showcase every week or so an article or idea sent in by site visitors, as 
the 'winner' of a regular contest for such.  

#4: Showcase every week or so a valuable web site which can't be found in 
most major search engines because it doesn't have its own unique domain name 
(this encourages more open search engines and better algorithyms, as well as 
earns ICANN friends among the 'unwashed masses' of web authors; it might also 
help ease the coming shortage in domain addresses until the addressing space 
can be expanded). 

#5: Sponser or promote periodic contests (like a recent one in Britain) where 
several people are equipped with a net client, so much credit, and must 
acquire certain items online within a given period of time...only they are in 
competition not only with one another but with others OFF-line for the lowest 
cost total costs for things like loans, autos, homes, etc., all using 
identical starting specs for the items to be acquired (this raises the net's 
profile as well as ICANN's and increases urgency for both consumers and 
businesses to go online-- IF the online shopping results in better bargains). 

#6: Bestow an annual or seasonal award for most innovative net developments 
in several categories to raise the profile of both ICANN and deserving small 
developers and individuals (only press releases may be involved, though cash 
awards would be nice too). 

Expanding or refining ICANN's agenda may also help in many matters (see 
Ideas for ICANN Contents 


Widening and improving the definition of ICANN's stated goals to gather mass 
support of all kinds

Align your overall policies and strategies with emerging future trends to 
garner extra support both financial and credibility-wise from the development 
community and other important organizations. 

Note that encouraging/supporting most of the items below might be no more 
difficult than prominently linking to appropriate sites from your own high 
profile web site. Be sure to include redundancies however, to better weather 
censorship and other adversities. To go further and perhaps enjoy greater 
direct benefits, ICANN could themselves maintain regularly updated reference 
pages and tables regarding some of the matters listed below. 

Somewhat conservative aims

#1: Encourage development of global 'virtual markets' for everything which 
might be affected by net development, in order to provide more lead time and 
warning to business, social organizations, and government about approaching 
socio-economic dislocations. Example: real estate prices in metropolitan 
areas, Wall Street stocks, used autos, government credit ratings around the 
world, etc., etc. 

#2: Support full and open disclosure about how personal information is used 
by all organizations, who it is sold or traded to, and when. 

#3: Support open search engines-- discourage discrimination against small 
site owners in databases which effectively censor sites simply because they 
exist on low cost or free domains (like AOL etc.) 

#4: Support content ownership rights for individual web site authors in 
community sites. 

#5: Support open global competitions offering substantial monetary rewards 
for comprehensive solutions to particularly thorny net-related software or 
policy problems, both to accelerate innovation and create new opportunities 

#6: Support expansion of opportunities for all with encouragement of open 
source, open standards, open search, micropayments, anonymous electronic 
cash, easy and convenient announcement and distribution outlets for new 
software and multimedia from all sources, and affiliate programs. 

More radical aims

#1: Support free speech, full disclosure, and fact gathering worldwide. 

#2: Encourage realtime net video/audio feeds from every public location in 
the world, the better to keep crime, media mistakes, and government 
propaganda everywhere better under control. 

#3: Support practical division of the internet into different classifications 
or spaces, for reasons of stability, child protection, and free speech. 

(note this basic concept comes from someone other than I, but I don't have 
the proper citation at hand). 
The different official spaces or internet regions could more easily allow 
browsers to warn users which section of the net they were venturing into, or 
even prevent children from accessing inappropriate sites, while not 
restricting adult use of the net. 

Business, government, and consumers could enjoy more stable and reliable 
software and net connections, with less worry of hacking or encountering new 
and buggy wares. 

The Public Space would be something akin to what we have today-- a largely 
unregulated, unfiltered net. Subsets of the Public Space could be Minors 
Space for children and another Space dedicated to Business, Consumers, 
Entertainment suitable to all audiences, and Education materials. 

Note that Linux open source releases generally maintain a stable older code 
set and a newer experimental set. With Net Spaces, innovative beta ware 
availability might be restricted to the Public Space, and only allowed into 
the other Spaces after it was judged sufficiently reliable and useful. 

#4: Support expansion of opportunities for all with advocacy for new 
geophysical state laws forcing all 'obsolete' technologies to be 
re-classified as 'open source' available on the net and ripe for further use 
and/or development within that model (just think how such 'free' tech could 
help the developing countries, as well as entrepreneurism and the poor 
worldwide). [jump off sources include...

The mounting case for obsolete technologies being released into a free/public 
domain/open source project classification all their own

At several points in this timeline I write about a vast amount of so-called 
"obsolete technology" becoming categorized as something akin to a universal 
store of materials, devices, and software accessible for virtually free to 
all human beings everywhere by a certain point in future history. A vast 
royalty-free library/catalog from which anyone may draw upon via a nanotech 
replicator to reproduce various goodies for need or want. 

Such largess becomes a form of official Do-It-Yourself 'welfare' and 'social 
security' for citizens of the far future, helping provide a sort of 'ultimate 
safety net' for everyone. 

Though (as of 1999) it will be centuries before the most idealistic form of 
this system may become available to us, already some present-day observers 
are wondering aloud if we shouldn't create some sort of legitimatized system 
for making 'obsolete' technologies available to those who want or need them. 

Simsom L. Garfinkel of the Boston Globe gives the example of the advanced 
Improv spreadsheet created by Lotus Development on Next computers (and then 
MS Windows 3.1 PCs) many years ago, and then abandoned to the dustbin of 
history, for apparently no good reason. 

"...After a lot of searching I found somebody who had an old copy, and I 
bought it for $75. I'm pleased to report that the program runs like a champ 
under Windows '98. 

Unfortunately, that's the end of the story. I'm legally prohibited from 
making copies of Improv for my friends and coworkers. Improv is protected by 
copyright, and even though Lotus no longer sells or supports the product, 
that protection still holds. This is a kind of crime against society...." 

Garfinkel argues that when a copyright owner of something like Improv fails 
to continue support and/or improvement of that product, or even stops 
distribution altogether, the copyright should go into the public domain so 
that the product may still serve those who find it useful, and perhaps even 
regain ongoing support and improvement from other parties. After all, 
Garfinkel points out, copyright laws only exist in the first place to 
encourage authors to produce new and improved works; if they don't do that, 
then aren't the authors reneging on their part of the social contract? 

"...Dozens of software publishers have gone out of business and taken their 
wares with them. Just imagine what the world would be like if instead of 
killing their products, these companies had been forced to release them into 
the public domain. Today there would be more than a dozen free word 
processors and spreadsheets available for Windows, giving Microsoft a real 
run for its money. And if the companies had been compelled to release the 
source code for these products as well, then enterprising hobbyists would 
have ported these applications to the Linux operating system. ..." 

Garfinkel does seem to make an excellent case-- and brought up a new point I 
hadn't previously considered myself about the issue: namely, that such 
'obsolete' products going into a public domain/open source code mode might 
furiously increase competition in the commercial sectors as well, leading to 
higher quality and lower prices across the board, plus prodding commercial 
ventures to take feature sets to whole new and higher levels than they might 
otherwise do, thereby greatly reducing the types of product stagnation we 
seem to have suffered in computer operating systems and applications the past 
ten years or so. 

Note too that this release of obsolete tech into the public domain might also 
help control the future growth of monster corporations as well, similarly to 
the proposal for a reduction in patent lifespans made in the timeline for 
this purpose (mega corporations beyond the power of world governments to 
control or regulate could pose a serious threat to human rights and welfare 
in coming centuries). 

-- "Copyrights and wrongs When firms abandon products - and toss away the key 
- users are the losers" By Simsom L. Garfinkel, PLUGGED IN, 02/18/99, This 
story ran on page C04 of the Boston Globe on 02/18/99.] 
Ideas for ICANN Contents 


I hope you found something useful here Esther. Good luck with ICANN! :-)

-- J.R. Mooneyham

PS: Much more information and supporting references for much of the above may 
be found in my futurist project online (http://future.web.com is an 
illustrated online book detailing probable technological advances and their 
likely socio-economic impact in the decades and centuries ahead. Alternate 
URL: http://members.aol.com/kurellian/spint.html).