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Certain aspects of the Internet governance debate are neither new nor unprecedented. We have decades of experience with the coordination of name and number spaces in other media such as the telephone system. Many of the policy and economic issues are analogous. This chapter attempts to put domain names and Internet addresses into a wider context by exploring some of the common economic and political features of address or name space management.
The fundamental starting point is that addresses must be unique. That is what makes it possible for them to guide the movement of data. Unique identifiers allow automated networks, such as telephone systems or the Internet, to distinguish among what may be millions of different parts. [1 ]The unique values needed by a large-scale public network cannot be created and assigned in a spontaneous and fully decentralized manner. Random or uncoordinated selection of values might lead to the selection of the same names or numbers by different people. Addressing thus requires some kind of coordinated action.
Coordination takes place at two distinct levels. First, a name space or address space representing a range of values must be defined and agreed upon as the basis for the identifiers. Second, individual values within that space must be assigned on an exclusive basis to specific devices or users. The first step in the process-defining the space-is basically a standardization process; it represents an agreement to use a specific architecture.
The second step-assigning values within the space to particular users or devices-is an ongoing responsibility and must be implemented by an organization.
[1 ]The uniqueness requirement is not so stringent in nonautomated networks. There may still be postal arrangements in various locales where a workable address would be 'give this to Bob Smith.' There may be many different Bob Smiths in the world, but a human delivery agent who is sensitive to context may still be able to deliver the message effectively.
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