What contributes to this misconception (that the Internet is chaotic rather than highly controlled), I suggest, is that protocol is based on a contradiction between two opposing machines: One machine radically distributes control into autonomous locales, the other machine focuses control into rigidly defined hierarchies. The tension between these two machines—a dialectical tension—creates a hospitable climate for protocological control.
Alexander Galloway, Protocol (MIT: 2004): p.8.
I like this quote very much, because it articulates the structure of control not just of the distributed network of the internets but also of the early modern Spanish empire. Which is to say, Spain’s empire exercised long term control over its territories in the Americas (and Asia) without a standing army through the mediation of the judicial protocol. Judicial protocols mediated contending claims to centralization and decentralization, of the king’s authority and local custom; of jurisdictional hierarchy and jurisdictional flexibility/conflict; of legal predation and legal protection. The ambiguities of this judicial mediation likewise created “a hospitable climate for protocological control.”