In Rome with ICANN
February 26 - March 7, 2004
by Terrence Halloran
 
Saturday, February 29, 2004
 
Our son Dan Halloran is deputy general counsel at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). We had five hours in Zurich between flights yesterday, so we explored Zurich's quaint and large downtown. There's a fascinating museum with lots of Middle Ages Swiss history. Two downtown Protestant churches are actually early medieval abbey churches, well-preserved.
 
 
 
Zurich or Rome? I don't remember.
 
Today I took the hotel's free shuttle bus to and from the Vatican. Lines were minimal, so I spent a few hours in the Vatican museums and the Sistine Chapel. I wasn't up to combining that with a walk through St. Peter's, so maybe I'll do that tomorrow.
 
Dan has been very busy with preparations for the ICANN meetings that begin Monday. I hope he'll have time for some tourism. I've met some interesting ICANN board members and other groupies from places like Belgium, Bulgaria, Greece, Pakistan and Brazil. People who've already met me now introduce me to others as "Dan Halloran's father" and I get lots of respect.
 
This was in the news on Friday:
 
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Internet infrastructure company VeriSign Inc. sued a domain-name oversight body Thursday, saying it had overstepped its authority when it prevented VeriSign from introducing new services.
 
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has no authority to prevent VeriSign from rolling out a search engine for users who mistype Internet addressses, VeriSign said, as well another feature that allows users to sign up for a waiting list for desirable domain names.
 
"This brazen attempt by ICANN to assume 'regulatory power' over VeriSign's business is a serious abuse of ICANN's technical coordination function," said VeriSign in the suit, which was filed in U.S. court in Los Angeles.
 
I learned later that Wait Listing Service (WLS) is the proposed feature that will allow VeriSign customers to sign up for desirable domain names.
 

Sunday, February 29, 2004
 
 
Basilica of St. Peter
 
Today I went to downtown Rome with Izumi Aizu, a Japanese colleague of Dan. We visited the Basilica of St. Peter. We joined the large crowd in the square for the Pope's Sunday noon speech.
 
 
The Arch of Titus and the Colosseum
 
We toured the Colosseum and we walked through the Forum Romanum beginning at the Arch of Titus. We visited the Pantheon on our way to Piazza Navona.
 
 
Pantheon
 
Our last stop was at the Spanish Steps and the nearby fountain in Piazza Spagna. Unfortunately the Keats museum there was closed today.
 
 
The Spanish Steps at Piazza Spagna
 
Dan worked 12 hours yesterday and 12 hours today. In my e-mail message to home this evening, I told my wife Connie that maybe she should have come with us. ICANN board member Mike Palage's wife, recovering from a skiing accident, is here on crutches.
 

Monday, March 1, 2004
 
Today I stayed at the hotel and attended a few of the ICANN meetings. Most interesting was an open meeting of the Government Advisory Committee, with technology representatives from the governments of about 100 countries. A minister of the Italian cabinet welcomed everyone with a short speech. ICANN board chairman Vint Cerf and ICANN president Paul Twomey each gave a talk laced with Internet jargon. Committee members took turns asking them questions about pending and future concerns. They replied with what sounded to me like a mixture of cheerful news and inability to predict the future of Internet domain names.
 
This evening, with Dan and some other ICANN staff members, I went to dinner at a quaint restaurant near Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere.
 

Tuesday, March 2, 2004
 
Today I returned to the Vatican museums, the Sistine chapel and the basilica of St. Peter. I strolled through the museums and chapel more slowly than I did in on Saturday. This time I visited the Egypt and Mesopotamia rooms and the modern art rooms. In the chapel I took my time reading about Michelangelo's ceiling art and his Last Judgment wall and viewing his masterpieces.
 
 
View of Piazza San Pietro from the Cupola
 
At St. Peter's, I took the stairs to the rim of the cupola. If you haven't been running, skiing or climbing mountains lately, you may not like this kind of exercise. The view from the top was spectacular. Downstairs I visited the tomb of John XXIII, where I prayed the Church will have more popes like him. Then I went to the basement crypt. John Paul I and a number of other popes are buried there, along with some medieval kings and queens. The supposed tomb of St. Peter is there too. It's a lot like the Los Angeles cathedral basement, except that in this church your relatives can't buy a niche in which to bury you.
 
 
View from Castel Sant' Angelo
 
Then I strolled down the Via della Reconciliazione to the Castel Sant' Angelo. There I did some more climbing for another view of Rome. It was built as a huge tomb for the Emperor Hadrian. In the Middle Ages it was a fortress and castle. Now it's a multi-storied museum.
 

Wednesday, March 3, 2004
 
Tuesday night about 500 of us from the ICANN gathering attended a banquet in a large hall near the Vatican. Our hosts were two major Internet companies, VeriSign and Register.it (the Italian domain name registry). After dinner, Dan and I strolled through the piazza of St. Peter's basilica before returning to the hotel.
 
Dan and I had dinner this evening in the hotel with several ICANN staff members. I told a few stories about Dan's four-year-old daughter Eleanor.
 
Dozens of the 700 participants at this ICANN gathering are wearing T-shirts and/or badges that say "No WLS." People are giving these away at a table near the meeting rooms.
 

Thursday, March 4, 2004
 
Today Dan finally had some free time. We rode the hotel shuttle bus and a taxi together to the Colosseum. From there Dan walked through the Forum Romanum and visited the Pantheon. I had done that already, so I went to the Church of St. Gregory, built at the birthplace of western monasticism. I learned that St. Benedict had converted his family home into the original monastery and abbey church there.
 
 
Church of St. Gregory
 
Unfortunately, the church was closed for repairs. So I went on the Metro to the church of St. Peter in Chains. It was closed until 3:30, so I rode the Metro to and from the National Museum. The museum has a fabulous collection of ancient Roman statues, and some decorated walls and floors from the days of the Roman empire. Back at St. Peter in Chains, I admired the statue of Moses carved by Michelangelo.
 
Moses
 
Statue of Moses at the Church of St. Peter in Chains
 
Then I returned to the hotel, arriving about six hours after Dan did. He had made it back in time for the ICANN open forum at 1:00 p.m. I'll see that later on the Internet.
 

Friday, March 5, 2004
 
Today I attended portions of day two of the ICANN open forum, in a large meeting room with several hundred participants. Committee chairpersons gave reports, and ICANN board members asked and answered questions. They and staff members also answered questions from the floor.
 
In the afternoon I joined a free three-hour narrated bus tour of Rome. I realized I hadn't missed much on my previous jaunts.
 

Saturday, March 6, 2004
 
Today's event at the hotel was the ICANN board meeting. Several hundred people were in the audience. One board member who participated by telephone from Mexico City was heard over a loudspeaker in the auditorium. Chairman Vint Cerf is a skilled and humorous parliamentarian. The board approved the WLS proposal by a large majority.
 
Dan and I spent this afternoon sightseeing with some of his ICANN co-workers and their spouses.
 
 
With Kurt, Dana, John, Kieran and Barbara at Piazza San Pietro
 
Sights on our walk through Rome included Piazza San Pietro (at the basilica of St. Peter), Castel Sant' Angelo, the Sant' Angelo bridge over the Tiber river, Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish steps at Piazza Spagna.
 
 
Trevi Fountain
 
This evening, Dan and I and a few others went to dinner at a nice restaurant near the Vatican. Coincidentally, at another table there, an ICANN staff member was dining with friends Phil Signey and his wife Mary Ann. Phil and I are both alumni of St. John's Seminary in Camarillo.
 

Sunday, March 7, 2004
 
Today we flew over the Netherlands, Scotland, Iceland, Greenland, Baffin Island, Hudson's Bay, North Dakota, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada to Los Angeles. It was a mid-day flight, and the skies were clear all the way.
 
After Erasmus arrived in London in 1509, he wrote, "Had I not torn myself from Rome, I could never have resolved to leave. There one enjoys sweet liberty, rich libraries, the charming friendship of writers and scholars, and the sight of antique monuments. I was honored by the society of eminent prelates, so that I cannot conceive of a greater pleasure than to return to the city."