Internet Centralization: How We Got from There to Here -- Identifying the Root Cause

My one-pager to IRTF DINRG Workshop on Internet Centralization Lixia Zhang (, May 16 2021   Recent years have witnessed a growing number of efforts and activities in developing solutions to “decentralize the Internet” – clearly the Internet today is no longer what it is used to be. However, in order to find effective means to move forward, the first step is to understand how we got here. Unprecedented Internet growth took most, if not all, people by surprise and unprepared . Only in retrospect, one gets to see a bit clearly what has happened. It seems to me that today’s control power centralization resulted from an imbalance among the three factors: economy, network architecture, and regulation.  If we look at the architecture first: the original Internet was distributed because anyone could communicate with anyone else w

Do not Associate Internet Centralization with DNS in the Absence of Facts

The last decade witnessed an ever increasing centralization of the Internet, which has triggered a grassroots movement toward Internet decentralization. However there seems an urgent need to understand the root cause of Internet centralization, so that all the decentralization efforts could lead to effective outcome. One view that I have heard from many people at many places, IETF community included, is that DNS is a centralized system and therefore the decentralization efforts must find effective solutions to circumvent all DNS usage. I can name multiple efforts heading to the direction of circumventing DNS entirely, but I have never been given scientific supporting evidences showing how, and how much, the use of DNS names actually contributed to the Internet centralization.  Yes the DNS namespace has a governance body to ensure DNS names' uniqueness. As far as I know, that namespace governance has not stopped anyone from getting a DNS name; many of my colleagues have got their  p