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The evolving dynamics of the internet layered archtecture: innovation, net neutrality and the interdependence of structure and function

Dini, Paolo and Tiropanis, Thanassis (2013) The evolving dynamics of the internet layered archtecture: innovation, net neutrality and the interdependence of structure and function. In: International Conference on Internet Science, Brussels, April 9-11, 2013: Conference Proceedings. The FP7 European Network of Excellence in Internet Science, pp. 203-208.

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In this extended abstract we discuss the infrastructure of the Internet as two distinct layers that are increasingly interdependent : the network layer, below, and the Web, above. The network layer is responsible for the structural properties of the Internet, while the top layer is where the Web content is consumed through Web applications and communications. We argue that the principle of independence between the layers, which guided the early design of the Internet, has enabled an environment conducive to innovation pursued by different communities: networking technologists primarily below, and business, application developers, and humanists/artists above. The innovations in each layer, however, are increasingly influencing design criteria and choices in the other, suggesting that the Internet architecture is evolving towards greater interdependence between the layers. For example, this is explicitly sought in some cases for wireless networks for efficiency optimization. Tight coupling between structural and functional properties is one of the fundamental “architectural” principles of biological organism s, which have evolved to optimize energy efficiency as a requirement for survival and procreation. This view, which mixes strictly functionalist concerns with creative and opportunistic behaviour, suggests that the Internet may be evolving towards an increasingly complex structure and dynamic. The paper argues that an environment in which the two layers are increasingly interdependent can still sustain a high level of innovation as long as no entity has full control of both , and as long as the design principles on each layer, which can be argued to have been fostering innovation, are not changed. We argue that the original Internet has fostered a number of innovations including the Web, P2P applications, and the Cloud and that its potential for innovation could be compromised if the importance of net neutrality and its infrastructural characteristics are undermined.

Item Type: Book Section
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2013 International Conference on Internet Science
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: T Technology > T Technology (General)
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2013 10:07
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 05:35

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