October 19, 2005

Self Delusion à la Marina del Rey

ICANN is having a strategic planning meeting in Marina del Rey.

Mind if I yawn?

If its "Strategic Planning Issues Paper" is any guide ICANN will be wandering even further into the wilderness of irrelevance.

As I have said many times in the past, ICANN has virtually nothing to do with internet technology.  ICANN's strategic plan seems hell bent on continuing that legacy.

Let's look at just one of ICANN's strategic "Major Factors" - ENUM.

ENUM is already obsolete; ENUM is going to fade away into the archives of good ideas that never quite made it big-time.

I have been working with Voice over IP (VOIP) for a couple of years now and there has been a resounding disinterest in the VOIP community about ENUM.  (The Session Initiation Protocol, SIP, does specify the optional use SRV and NAPTR DNS records, but does not utilize them in the worldwide numeric hierarchy that most people associate with ENUM.)

ENUM is a mechanism to drag telephone numbers into an internet filled with textual URLs, URIs, and domain names.

People who use VOIP place calls using things that look and smell a lot like email addresses or instant message handles: fred@example.ewe.  Even when numbers are used they still are coupled to a domain name: 123@example.ewe.  (Some systems hide the domain name part, but it's there under the covers.)

ENUM is an attempt to make the internet, and its users, conform to the technology of 1880.

ENUM is an answer to a problem that has disappeared.

Yet ICANN is gearing up to become the uber-manager of ENUM.

What's even more sad is that the WSIS/WGIG effort seems to be chasing after the same false scent.

Now, personally I don't normally mind people and organizations wasting their time and money regulating buggy whips and other relics of the past.  However, the internet is not the past and neo-governments such as ICANN have a way of oozing out from their cubicles of authority and getting in the way of real innovation - like VOIP that allows people to make calls using user-selected words rather than assigned numbers.

Posted by karl at October 19, 2005 1:45 AM