[ccwg-internet-governance] paper on Internet fragmentation

Olivier MJ Crepin-Leblond ocl at gih.com
Sun Jan 24 23:52:46 UTC 2016

(all - warning, my email has little to do with ICANN's mandate)

Dear Bill,

thanks for sharing this pointer and congratulations - it looks like the
session was very interesting indeed and I note the paper has benefited
from improvements discussed at the December WEF USA forum.

I do however need to point out one source of fragmentation that is
missing which I thought I had pointed out, but perhaps not, and that's
search engine fragmentation. For the majority of Internet users, the
search engine is the gateway to the Internet. Yet, current search engine
dominance, coupled with geo-location, deals with specific governments as
well as the use of cookies (to optimise your search results), means that
your Internet experience will not be the same as mine. We live in
parallel universes already. Your IP address, along with cookies will
"optimise" your experience in doing searches in a different way than my
searches and the results will be radically different.
How different can it be? Well, for one, it's easy to check it out using
the simple "advanced search" interface that, for example, Google
provides. https://www.google.com/advanced_search
But then you can also use boolean terms such as those listed in
This is not an exhaustive list and I remember in 2006 being able to
choose what front end cluster I wanted to be served from (which was
basically "what door to I use to reach the content delivery network"),
and guess what, the results were different! What a search engine does to
serve you is obviously company confidential and works well for the great
majority of Internet users out there, the proof being the success of the
offered product. But I really think you missed a chance to point this
out - in my view, short of having a healthy competition in the search
engine space, the Internet is already fragmented.

In fact, and I guess that's my second point, contrary to what most
people think, most major content is already delivered using content
delivery networks with local caching. Companies like Akamai have made it
a business model in itself. They go way further than just deal with
geo-location. They are actually deeply changing the nature of the
Internet itself and they are on the rise. It is unfortunate that these
were not pointed out in the paper either. For more information see:
Caches are sometimes so close to you - ie. at your own ISP! Talk about

Third, while I repeat that the paper is very informative indeed and
congratulate you again on it, I cannot help thinking "what are the
solutions"? I hope that this will be the object of future work. On
search engine fragmentation, I can already suggest the mandatory
inclusion of a search boolean "optimization=no" but hey - I am well
aware that this might kill a complete business model and business sector
of SEO: search engine optimization. Thinking about this philosophically,
I guess the perfect is the enemy of the good.

Kindest regards,


On 24/01/2016 18:44, William Drake wrote:
> Hi
> Sorry for cross-posting to a couple lists, but in case anyone here is
> interested: at the WEF annual meeting that just concluded, a paper by
> myself, Vint Cerf and Wolfgang Kleinwachter was released.  "Internet
> Fragmentation: An Overview" is a mapping exercise to help set the
> stage for further discussions, and an argument for a broad
> multidimensional approach to fragmentation that in a sense parallels
> the approach advocated in the IG definition debate of a decade ago.
> The paper is
> at http://www.weforum.org/reports/internet-fragmentation-an-overview.
>  The paper was discussed a bit at a couple sessions and we did an
> Issue Briefing discussion with Estonia President Toomas Ilves,
> Jonathan Zittrain of Harvard, and myself, video of which is
> at http://www.weforum.org/events/world-economic-forum-annual-meeting-2016/sessions/issue-briefing-internet-fragmentation.
> Best,
> Bill
> *************************************************************
> William J. Drake
> International Fellow & Lecturer
>   Media Change & Innovation Division, IPMZ
>   University of Zurich, Switzerland
> william.drake at uzh.ch
> <mailto:william.drake at uzh.ch> (direct), wjdrake at gmail.com
> <mailto:wjdrake at gmail.com> (lists),
>   www.williamdrake.org <http://www.williamdrake.org>
> /The Working Group on Internet Governance - 10th Anniversary Reflections/
> New book at https://www.apc.org/en/WGIG 
> *************************************************************
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Olivier MJ Crépin-Leblond, PhD

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