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Empirical Studies of Bottom-Up Internet Governance

"The notion of bottom-up governance in the Internet is not new, but the precise underlying mechanisms have received little primary, empirical study. The majority of Internet governance literature is couched in contrasting familiar top-down modes of governance with the design of and subsequent critique of governance institutions such as ICANN or the WSIS processes that created the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). This paper reports on dissertation work collecting and analyzing empirical evidence of how bottom-up governance mechanisms operate in situ. Methodologically, participant-observer ethnographies are supplemented by text mining and social network analysis—the combination facilitates analysis of community-generated artifacts cross-validated against semi-structured interviews. This paper reports on ethnographic studies thus far, drawing on early interviews and private conversations. Scoping the domain, this work evaluates organizational modes at the intersection of Internet operations and security. Three categories of non-state organizational modes contribute evidence: network operator groups (NOGs) and RIRs; Internet eXchange Points (IXPs); anti-abuse organizations and communities such as the Messaging, Malware, and Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group (M3AAWG), Spamhaus, and the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG). As of this writing, the anti-abuse studiy is the least developed study and will be addressed comparatively. The author engages as a participant-observer in forums from each category, developing relationships and engaging in semi-structured interviews with participants and organizers."
Jesse Sowell
Engineering Systems Division, CSAIL, MIT
Industry Focus: 
Information & Telecommunication
Internet & Cyberspace
Bibliographies & Reports