Nodaddy: the Internet does have a hierarchical and centralized aspect
For those of you unfamiliar with the technology: when you ask the Internet to look up a website for you, there is one single authority for each “top level” domain. In other words, if your domain ends in “.org” the authority is Public Interest Registry. Public Interest Registry is in charge of telling the world how to find the computer that corresponds to the domain name you are looking for.
Public Interest Registry, in turn, contracts out with a few dozen companies (like GoDaddy, Network Solutions, Dotster, etc.) who handle the business end of the transaction. You pay them money, and they take care of inserting your domain into the Public Interest Registry database.
Keep in mind: this has almost nothing to do with the organization that is hosting your web site.
In other words, suppose your web site (say mayfirst.org) is hosted with us. And suppose it’s politically sensitive and might be considered a threat to a government, so you have copies on many different servers with many different hosting providers in many different countries (maybe mirror1.mayfirst.org, mirror2.mayfirst.org, etc). Now, if one server gets confiscated or shut down, you have many other servers. No problem.
However, if your domain name registrar pulls your domain name (as is documented on NoDaddy), you really are in trouble because nobody will be able to find the server that has a backup mirror copy of your site. In other words all .org Internet traffic, at some point, goes through Public Interest Registry before it goes to your hosting provider.
At the radical tech brunch we discussed advertising “tags” instead of domains as an alternate. For example, rather than saying: go to mayfirst.org, we should be saying: go to your favorite search engine and search for MayfirstCampaignOnX or something like that.
Then, we can put up information on many different computers with, most importantly, different addresses.