Verizon Public Policy on Netflix

Owen DeLong owen at
Fri Jul 18 23:25:45 UTC 2014

On Jul 18, 2014, at 16:12 , Jay Ashworth <jra at> wrote:

> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: "Owen DeLong" <owen at>
>> On Jul 18, 2014, at 11:32 , Jay Ashworth <jra at> wrote:
>>> ----- Original Message -----
>>>> From: "Owen DeLong" <owen at>
>>>> But the part that will really bend your mind is when you realize
>>>> that
>>>> there is no such thing as "THE Internet".
>>> "The Internet as "the largest equivalence class in the reflexive,
>>> transitive, symmetric closure of the relationship 'can be reached by
>>> an IP packet from'"
>>> -- Seth Breidbart.
>> Note that the sentence is incomplete
> It actually isn't, no.
> The quoted segment is, as noted, a *relationship*; ie: a function applied 
> to a domain of IP addresses to produce a range of other IP addresses; it's
> a *function*, and the closure applies it to produce a result.
>>                                      and as soon as you put something
>> after "from" that is actually meaningful, you end up with different
>> answers for the left hand side of that statement depending on what you
>> put at the right hand side.
>> Further, even that definition doesn't define a single cohesive entity
>> and the definition of "can be reached by an IP packet" is highly
>> variable and more subjective than you may realize.
> Not really.
>> What we commonly refer to as "THE Internet" is really many different
>> equivalence classes similar to what is described above, but each of
>> them is made up of a collection of independently owned and operated
>> networks that happen to cooperate on traffic delivery to varying
>> extents and happen to have agreed to a common protocol and participate
>> in some of the same management schemes for things like namespace
>> collision avoidance and address distribution.
> Hence "transitive".  It's not really an accident that "transit" comes
> from the same root.
> "The Internet" for all the purposes we generally use it here is composed
> of all the machines with publicly routable IP addresses between which you
> can move packets, regardless of what they're hooked to, or who they pay;
> that was the point Seth made in a much more mathematical-sounding way
> in his oft-quoted statement.

And my point is that when you look at it in detail, there's no such thing. There are many hosts which have public IP addresses which can reach different subsets of "the internet" than other hosts which also have public IP addresses and can talk to each other.

It is very easy to choose a selection of hosts and be unable to solve that function with a single solution set for the entire set of hosts, yet by any vernacular definition of "the internet", all of the hosts in question would be "on the internet".

That's my point. The devil is in the details, but in reality, the internet is much more precarious, variable, and generally a convenient term of art for something that mostly otherwise defies description.

In fact, I've always loved the description of "You can tell how much someone understands the detailed workings of the internet by what amazes them."

Almost no detailed knowledge:	Amazed by everything one can do.
Some detailed knowledge:		Amazed by all the different places one can reach and how much information is available.
Near complete knowledge:		Amazed that it works at all.


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