Rod Beckstrom’s was officially appointed as ICANN’s new headman during the ICANN board meeting in Sydney, Australia.
His speech, which he gave without notes, is hopefully an indicator of the man’s thinking and bodes well for the future of ICANN.
Here it is:
“>>ROD BECKSTROM: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Paul, thank you very much. And I thank all you members of the board who have been so incredibly
generous with your time in educating me and bringing me into this opportunity. I’m truly honored.
But I’m especially humbled and honored to be here in front of all of you. You, the community, of ICANN — you, the community of the Internet — and all the groups and partner organizations that have created something quite magnificent, quite amazing for the world to behold.
I was invited into this — this is my first ICANN meeting. I’ve obviously been in the tech industry for almost 30 years, and involved
in many organizations, and this is a beautifully complex one.
And I’ve been — and I received many warnings and many of you said to me, “Do you really know what you’re getting in for? Are you sure
you’re ready for this?”
But I say that where you see and hear cacophony, I see a symphony. Because it’s the gnashing and the thrashing through all the technical
standards processes, through all of the policy processes, through the legal issues, the trademark issues, the address issues, the name issues
— all the things that you handle and that you have done has given birth and given rise to the Internet, which is now touching 1.5 billion
people on this planet directly through their computers, and another billion — and soon two — through their phones and other devices. And
it’s the noise and the complexity and the lack of any central control in this process that has made it so rich and so open for the entire
And you have done that. And elders here such as Steve Crocker, who were involved in that first crazy little experiment in trying to design
a network that could withstand a nuclear attack. Now, how do you design something to survive a nuclear attack? There was only one way
that was found, and that was to create a completely decentralized network.
One in which there was no central point of control, and when they connected those first four huge devices like refrigerators that we’ll
call “routers” for a second that could each connect into four computers at UCLA, USC, Stanford and Utah, in research centers, they were
creating this network.
But what held it together? What held it together was a very subtle little thing that Jon Postel held in his hands, part of what held it
together. There were the protocols, but there were also the names and the addresses, or the linkages so that those devices could communicate
with one another and send a message to the right computer with no central control.
And then obviously that evolved and grew and changed into TCP/IP, and again, instead of a cacophony the symphony I see has a parsimony of
protocols. There are very few protocols in the Internet that have come through that RFC process that was created. That are hanging together
and allowing this network to unfold with no centralized control.
And there’s an elegance of elements, and there’s a richness in the ecosystem. The ecosystem that you have created, that you lead, that
you are, that I now have the opportunity to come into and to serve. And that ecosystem has the components within it of ICANN, the groups
such as the Address Supporting Organization, the ASO, the generic name supporting organization, the GNSO, which alone has 30 different policy
processes running right now. Each of those very complex in legal issues, social issues, technology issues, risk management issues.
Many, many different layers.
The root support services advisory group, which is headed by one of our board members. The security and stability efforts that are
critical for the Internet. The ALAC, where the at-large community of the world can have involvement and now being discussed to join onto the
board. And of course the IETF, the granddaddy of it all. The Internet Engineering Task Force that created those protocols, that designed
What has happened is miraculous and you’ve done it and I’m humbled because I stand before you as someone who comes to help and to serve
this exciting effort.
So I really hear the music in what’s going on. And of course the governments of the world, besides what you started here technically
which became the various components to get the job done, the governments have come and now on the At-Large Advisory Committee, 83
members — 40 governments — which were here this week representing their interests, exchanging with one another ideas on how to spread the
use of the Internet, how to handle the difficult intellectual property, trademark and other issues and giving advice to this board.
So this network has a life of its own and it’s the most majestic creature that we, mankind, have created and we’ve done it with all the
messiness that we bring to the table as humans, that we bring into the rooms here, and that gnashing and the thrashing that I spoke of. But
that’s what gives us the power. That’s what gives the population of the world the power of what you’ve created. And for those that are not
so much on the technical side, that care about what this organization is doing, it doesn’t do what it does alone.
It works on one part of the problem. It does create a forum for many of these other discussions, and for work with other partners like ISOC
and VeriSign and other critical parts of this ecosystem, but it has one basic function as well besides serving as a forum, and that is to run
the master telephone directory, as it were, of the entire global Internet.
Because when we go to a phone book, there’s names and there’s numbers. The difference is, when we go to a phone book, there can be many John Smiths in a city such as Sydney, but not on the Internet. To have one
global unified Internet there can only be one unique name or universal resource locater with a given name in the world.
And there can be addresses and the addresses are numbers and they’re different. They’re a lot like the telephone numbers and they’re very
important because they’re what, in part, the routers and the switches and different things use to get the messages around. And so that
little service of running the directory and partnering with you, the registries of the world and the registrars of the world, and
communicating with every single router and device in the world, is what gives us the first global linkage of mankind.
And ICANN’s role is simply to help protect that. That was Jon Postel’s list of four devices with four computers each, which has grown
and grown and grown. It now has over 180 million names today. Unique names, Internet names. Which have been limited to Latin characters
that soon, through your good work, will be opened up so everyone in the world can have it in their language, which will of course lead to
billions of names. And we’re about to move from somewhat of over a billion addresses in the allocation system to trillions and trillions
with IPv6. That’s what you’ve created. So I’m humbled to be here with you. I am thrilled by the opportunity. I believe in the process of
what you’re doing.
I know that it takes incredible time and energy and effort for everything that you do, but I believe in collaboration. And I believe in a world where every human being has the ability to communicate with other human beings openly and freely, and what — what more poignant event do we need than what we’ve seen in the last few weeks, when people have sought to share their sides of a story — both sides of a story, without taking a position — in what’s going on in Iran around a
ction, as people have tweeted, Facebooked, YouTubed and shared their content to organize and participate in what they seek and
the government has organized and participated and taken steps in its nature. It shows how critically vital this platform is, that you have
That many people will literally fight and die for.
So in my case, I’m simply humbled to be here with you. I’m going to need your help and support. I’m very fortunate to have my beautiful
wife, Patrice’s help and support. Please raise your hand.
>>ROD BECKSTROM: Because I know that the demands are so incredibly real.
So I ask you for one thing, and that is, I ask you for your support and for your blessings. I am new to this community. I am not an
expert on your processes. I am not an expert on the 30 and 40 years of history and all the protocols and all of the intellectual property
treatments and all the details of what you’re doing. I’m new and I’m here to serve, to serve as a catalyst. So thank you for this opportunity.