Another Hub for Verisign

The Verisign acquisition of the original hub for blog pings ought to deeply concern the high volume ping producers and consumers around Feedmesh. Verisign knows hubs. It has exceptionally large market share of two of the key Internet hubs DNS, and SSL key signing. They know how to encourage further consolidation of those hubs. They are willing to agressively go after revenue, such as selling advertising on every misspelling of a domain name under their stewardship. They are very active in the supply chain RFID space, where we can expect to soon see a bloom of blog-ping like traffic.

The most central struggle in Internet systems is between the architectures dependent on a central authority and those known collectively as end-to-end; i.e. those where the ownership is left with those on the periphery. That choice is not a boolean; there are plenty of architectures that leave large midsized players in the system.

The central authority advocates always emphasis the same things: reliablity, policing, simpler. It’s always simpler to just ask the landlord, and sometimes that works. So Verisign writes about reliablity: “Those days have passed at least for the popular ping servers; pings are well on their way to requiring serious infrastructure. That’s where VeriSign comes in.” Policeman: “there are an enormous number of splogs out there, and the number is growing faster than the number of real blogs.”

The key balance between central and periphery designs is around who owns the rights to innovate an who captures the revenue from those. So Verisign writes: “… a host of new opportunities for delivering network services in a user-friendly (and often user-powered) way. In order for that to happen though, there’s a lot of work to be done underneath the application layer.” That’s the Microsoft slogan “Your potention. Our passion.” Which I can’t resist reframing as: “You take the risks, we’ll take the profit.”

It’s a shame that Dave Winer’s failed in his aspiration to solve the scaling problems without an acquision. The complexities of collabrative open institution building aren’t really his strong suit; he’s a different kind of entrepreneur.

The struggle between concentration toward the center and diffusion toward the periphery isn’t just driven by technology. We make the bed we sleep in.

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