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Domain Pulse 2008: Internet Governance the Focus of Day One

Around 350 attendees came from Russia in the east to Ireland in the west, as well as a few people from elsewhere around the globe, to attend Domain Pulse 2008 in Vienna on February 21 and 22. Day one’s focus was internet governance.

The future of the DNS was one of the key issues addressed by Michael Nelson of Georgetown University in Washington DC, with domain names becoming less important, but their numbers still increasing, as online access by a myriad of devices skyrockets connect—everything from the television, refrigerator, washing machine, pets, sprinkler systems and cars.

Other presentations covered the role of ICANN by Professor Wolfgang Kleinwächter, data retention and the EC directive by Michael Pilz, search engine marketing by Karl Pall from Google Austria and a look at ccTLDs across Europe (Peter Van Roste, Centr) among others.

With the evolution of the internet only 15 per cent complete, forms of online identification such as RFID and Digital Object Identifier, among others, will be common means of connecting devices online, with devices connected to the internet skyrocketing past domain names in a few years said Michael Nelson at Domain Pulse in his keynote address.

Collaborative technologies are also the way of the future, with cloud computing meaning applications will reside in a cloud of collaborating technologies, including cameras and phones among others according to Nelson. Examples include peer-to-peer technologies and grid computing. The next phase is the “holy grid” with everything integrated. Indeed, Nelson quoted Eric Schmidt of Google who says 90% of computing will be done in a cloud in a few years, meaning reliance on high powered computers for personal use will decline.

Back to the DNS, Michael Nelson looked at ICANN and believes that its significance is overstated with what happens at the IETF three to four times more important than what happens at ICANN. However, as he noted, the role of the IETF is rarely discussed. And Microsoft’s next Internet Explorer browser is probably even more important to the internet than the IETF.

ICANN has been broadly successful, a view largely held by Wolfgang Kleinwächter as well, with the DNS stable and the organisation remaining largely independent. Nelson credited ICANN for looking at new gTLDs, seeing what works and said that news reports on ICANN wildly exaggerate what happens. Nelson finds it rather amusing the conspiracy stories that appear about ICANN. On Washington DC and American politics, Nelson said the only conspiracy can involve two people, as if three people know about something in DC, then one will tell someone! But there’s not a lot you can do with a conspiracy of two people!

Another of Michael Nelson’s views, backed up by Wolf Ludwig in a panel discussion chaired by Kleinwächter, was it is important internet users decide the way forward in technologies that are used, and not governments. “When in doubt, empower the user,” Nelson said.

Peter Van Roste of Centr in his overview of the Centr ccTLDs members looked at growth among the ccTLDs and Van Roste announced Centr will be launching a publicly available tool soon to enable a comparison of domain statistics among its members. Peter also spoke of an Asia Pacific Top Level Domain (APTLD) association study that looked registration of domain names for registries under APTLD. Click here for a link to the APTLD report.

This study found gross domestic product of a country, the number of internet users and gTLD registrations were all key factors in determining demand for the ccTLD of that country. Price, it was found, was not so important Van Roste said. Another finding, was allowing registration at the second level has a statistically identifiable positive effect on registration numbers, with the landrush leading to opening up the second level benefiting registration numbers.

Domain Pulse 2008 covers a broad range of issues affecting the DNS, and its broad reach is testament to the importance of the German-language ccTLDs in Europe. It’s a very important date on the international domain name conference calendar. Presentations are available on the Domain Pulse conference website in the language of presentation website at http://www.domainpulse.at/.

By David Goldstein, Consultant, researcher, analyst and online news monitoring

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