September 17, 2004

Containing the whole Science of Government

When thinking about governance and, in particular, internet governance, it is kind of fun to look back to 1857 and read Chapter 10 of Dicken's Little Dorrit.

Below are the first two paragraphs.  The entire chapter (and the entire book) are well worth reading.

My question for you is this: What body of internet governance best resembles the Circumlocution Office?  (The answer is at the end of this entry.)


Containing the whole Science of Government

The Circumlocution Office was (as everybody knows without being told) the most important Department under Government.  No public business of any kind could possibly be done at any time without the acquiescence of the Circumlocution Office.  Its finger was in the largest public pie, and in the smallest public tart.  It was equally impossible to do the plainest right and to undo the plainest wrong without the express authority of the Circumlocution Office.  If another Gunpowder Plot had been discovered half an hour before the lighting of the match, nobody would have been justified in saving the parliament until there had been half a score of boards, half a bushel of minutes, several sacks of official memoranda, and a family-vault full of ungrammatical correspondence, on the part of the Circumlocution Office.

This glorious establishment had been early in the field, when the one sublime principle involving the difficult art of governing a country, was first distinctly revealed to statesmen.  It had been foremost to study that bright revelation and to carry its shining influence through the whole of the official proceedings.  Whatever was required to be done, the Circumlocution Office was beforehand with all the public departments in the art of perceiving--HOW NOT TO DO IT.


Answer: ICANN

Posted by karl at September 17, 2004 3:46 AM