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The Internet Is 'Built Wrong'

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the because-he-said-so dept.

The Internet 452

An anonymous reader writes "API Lead at Twitter, Alex Payne, writes today that the Internet was 'built wrong,' and continues to be accepted as an inferior system, due to a software engineering philosophy called Worse Is Better. 'We now know, for example, that IPv4 won't scale to the projected size of the future Internet. We know too that near-universal deployment of technologies with inadequate security and trust models, like SMTP, can mean millions if not billions lost to electronic crime, defensive measures, and reduced productivity,' says Payne, who calls for a 'content-centric approach to networking.' Payne doesn't mention, however, that his own system, Twitter, was built wrong and is consistently down."

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"Content centric"? (5, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546511)

Does that translate to "owned by the big media cartels"?

Re:"Content centric"? (5, Funny)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546605)

My buzzword filter prevented that term from reaching my conscious mind.

Re:"Content centric"? (5, Funny)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546697)

Your unconscious mind is a hell of a typist.

posting link to unrelated penny arcade comic (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25547097) []

please mod funny, i need the karma :(

Re:posting link to unrelated penny arcade comic (-1, Offtopic)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 5 years ago | (#25547197)

1. You don't get modded up by asking.
2. You don't get karma for funny mods*.
3. You don't get karma for anonymous posts.

* You do get karma for the negative mods people knock you down with though!

Re:"Content centric"? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25546833)

My ********* filter prevented that term from reaching my conscious mind.

Your what filter?

Re:"Content centric"? (2, Interesting)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546671)

I got the impression that he was talking about divorcing the content from the presentation, which sounds fine in theory but a lot of people want to have more control of the presentation...That was kinda the point of HTML in the first place; we'd have stuck with Gopher if all we wanted was pure content with a static presentation.

Even in a modern context, we could have switched to XML to divorce the information from the presentation, and there hasn't really been a charge in that direction.

It's hard to say what he really meant because the whole thing is lacking in specifics.

Re:"Content centric"? (5, Insightful)

Firehed (942385) | more than 5 years ago | (#25547237)

Well, given that Twitter really only took off because of it's API (which is XML-based), you could say that it really is taking off, especially with how many other user-content-driven sites have APIs. Beats the hell out of page scraping, anyways.

The problem is that serving straight-up XML with an XSLT is rather flaky cross-browser (especially on mobile devices), and adds a level of confusion that not only isn't necessary in 99% of websites but is best piped through a semi-regulated system. Twitter is an awful example as they still don't have a business model (or even a revenue stream at all AFAIK), but providing premium access to certain sections of an API or an increased request limit is certainly a valid way to monetize a service like Twitter, and that will quickly fall apart if were to serve straight-up XML.

Other than cross-browser standards support and a couple of quirky CSS attributes, there's really nothing wrong with separating the content and presentation with the systems that are widely in use today. They also allow users to override the presentation with their own stylesheet. Sure, you'd generally have to do it on a site-by-site basis as there's neither a <content> or <menu> tag (but rather divs and lists with IDs set, with no cross-site consistency at all), but implementing that kind of system effectively would be beyond a nightmare. I suppose you could link out to a semantic XML version of a page via a meta tag like how we currently handle RSS feeds (could just be another xmlns attribute for this kind of thing, though you could get most of the info off of a full rss feed anyways), but there are so few people that would want to override the default presentation of a site (and even fewer who would be bothered to do so) that it just doesn't make any sense, especially as there's currently no monetary incentive to do so.

Re:"Content centric"? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546955)

Does that translate to "owned by the big media cartels"?

I think it means, roughly, identifier vs. locator oriented, so that you ask some (presumably, nearby in network topology) server to get you a particular identified piece of content, and it does so efficiently without having to always go to the origin server and get it directly from there, unless the need to do that is inherent in the request.

HTTP/1.1 supports that quite well (including with negotiation of content types), its just a matter of having the right caches/proxies set up and using them, which is a big social problem.

P2P technologies like BitTorrent provide much of what would be needed to do this a different way that gets around the social problem, and its possible that's the route things will eventually go.

http://www... (0, Offtopic)

Windows_NT (1353809) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546521)

Secure information stolen ...
Have a nice day.

SHIT! This internet is not secure!

Go and build your own then. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25546523)

If it's better, surely everyone will migrate?

Re:Go and build your own then. (1)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25547111)

Depends, which has more free porn?

*Brain Asplodes* (5, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546537)

Okay, so a guy who works for Twitter a crash prone, non-scaling application, says that the internet is "built wrong", where one of the examples of wrong is scaling. He goes on to list a few specific apps that he thinks are good example of "wrong" like IP4 and SMTP, which won out against better designed (but strangely unmentioned) alternatives because of wacky market stuff, which, again, not described.

No one who knows anything about the Internet would say that it was perfect. It's not even close. There are a lot of places where unholy cludges exist and are perpetuated because it's a lot easier to live with them than it is to try and change everything that depends on them. Things like, for example, Twitter.

Sure there were alternatives, but they were all either patent-encumbered, or hard to deploy, or too complex to easily develop for. They died. It's called competition. TCP/IP and SMTP came out the other side, and grew into cornerstones of the largest network this world has ever known, in a shockingly short period of time. No, not perfect, but pretty damn good none-the-less.

It's very easy to sit back today and say, "Wow it could have been so much better!" But that is armchair crap at the best of times...I'd sneer if Vint Cerf said it. Coming from someone who demonstrably can't do better, and can't even be bothered to champion a specific alternative...That's as pointless and lacking in content as most of the crap that comes through his crappily coded service.

Re:*Brain Asplodes* (5, Funny)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546567)

It's not Twitter's fault, it's the Internet's!

Re:*Brain Asplodes* (4, Funny)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546747)

According to Twitter, it's Microsoft's fault.

Re:*Brain Asplodes* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25547025)

according to TWITTER (slashdot user), it's Goatse's fault.

Re:*Brain Asplodes* (1)

JonTurner (178845) | more than 5 years ago | (#25547221)

Actually, according to Twitter, it's "404 not found" and "408 request time out"'s fault. Oh, wait, it's back up now. Nevermind.

Re:*Brain Asplodes* (2, Funny)

Theoboley (1226542) | more than 5 years ago | (#25547053)

And according to Microsoft, It's Apple's fault.

No citation needed ;)

Re:*Brain Asplodes* (4, Funny)

rugatero (1292060) | more than 5 years ago | (#25547215)

And according to Apple, nothing is wrong at all. Trust Apple, and all will be well.

Re:*Brain Asplodes* (1)

rob1980 (941751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546635)

It takes one to know one, so even though his system is down frequently because of "too many Tweets" at least he knows a borked system when he sees one!

Re:*Brain Asplodes* (1)

kingsteve612 (1241114) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546663)

No further comments needed. This one pretty much says it all.

Re:*Brain Asplodes* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25546999)

agreed. He should have just got it over with and mentioned nazis. That's a wrap, folks, this one is in the can.

Re:*Brain Asplodes* (1, Insightful)

br00tus (528477) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546703)

Twitter a crash prone, non-scaling application

Well I can't blame them that much aside from an initial fatal architectural decision, namely to build Twitter on Ruby-on-Rails. Its clear which one went by the wayside in the Fast, Cheap, Good equation with that.

Re:*Brain Asplodes* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25546709)

Yet another brilliant post. It would be really interesting to set up a playground for Slashdot's leading minds and have them engage in heady combat over the day's stories. I guess that would be exactly like what we have but more focused. More scheduled. Sort of a Karma competition over insight.

Well something to think about anyway, as there really is nothing else to add to this story after puppy's comment.

Re:*Brain Asplodes* (5, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#25547205)

Me and the Twitter guy have something in common: if we were great minds, we'd be out doing great things, not sitting around with the belief that our opinions matter.

I don't have his hubris, thinking that his laughable Twitter credentials put him in some sort of position where he is qualified to pontificate on the sad state of the internets, but I'm not so deluded as to think my sniping at his idiocy is in any way deep or meaningful.

Re:*Brain Asplodes* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25546717)

Ok - you popped scaling. I am going to say that SMTP never scales. SMTP is for e-mail, especially spam.

It is network policy now to proxy everything, and I don't think that this is good when you have outages. Cox Digi was out the other night, and the *ron went up with the mail atrocity.

SMTP was made without a patent

- No spam for you -

Re:*Brain Asplodes* (2, Insightful)

AceJohnny (253840) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546725)

Sure there were alternatives, but they were all either patent-encumbered, or hard to deploy, or too complex to easily develop for.

Or they came too late or didn't survive the competitor's marketing onslaught. Remember the power of inertia.

Speaking of Twitter, there are alternatives [] , and there are better architectures []

Electronic evolution (4, Insightful)

JonTurner (178845) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546739)

Thank you for that. It's exactly right.

What he fails to realize is, everything is an incremental, transitional technology. Nobody planned out this current hideous jumble of technologies we call teh intertubez, it started with a simple message protocol on top of a network protocol and evolved, and evolved, and evolved further from its inferior predecessors; at each state incremental improvements happened as necessary.

Web 1.0 was "good enough" for some tasks. But when it wasn't, the technology adapted. It remains is as good as the need requires and the market demands at this moment. Mistakes are culled, successes survive. A giant, electronic petri dish, if you will.

Re:*Brain Asplodes* (5, Funny)

j_166 (1178463) | more than 5 years ago | (#25547017)

"There are a lot of places where unholy cludges exist and are perpetuated because it's a lot easier to live with them than it is to try and change everything that depends on them."

You're telling me. I personally witnessed a critical point that 75% of all internet data passes through in an unnamed very large University that is powered by a goddamned lobster on a treadmill! If Pinchy ever gives up the ghost, we are all well and truly FCKed.

fabulous plasts (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25546541)

Hi mom. Also, goatse.

How Is This Different From a CDN? (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546557)

Van Jacobson, an award-winning specialist in networking to whom the Internet owes its continued existence, gave a talk at Google in 2006 outlining a content-centric approach to networking. Jacobsonâ(TM)s approach leverages wide distribution of data across a variety of devices and media, while baking in security and simplifying the development model for networked applications.

If the majority of Internet usage continues to be about content, an approach like Jacobsonâ(TM)s would be not just prudent, but necessary. You neednâ(TM)t do more than attempt to watch a streaming video on a busy office LAN or oversubscribed DSL circuit to understand that even the best-served markets for Internet connectivity are struggling to keep up with demand for networked content. Add to this that providing adequate security models for such content is a virtual impossibility on todayâ(TM)s Internet, and the need for a better approach is even clearer.

When Jacobson says things should be focused on content, I think all he means is that you should ask for content and the internet should be able to find it using many different ways (IP, VPN, zeroconf, proxies, you name it). That's what he means by that stupid buzzword "content-centric." And that's not going to solve anything! Everything else he preaches sounds like disseminating content once from New York to Seattle so that when an Oregon resident wants to read the Wall Street Journal they don't make 8 hops across the country for every article. You move the data once closer to the consumer and then you have less network usage.

I may be misinformed but how is this any different than a Content Delivery Network (CDN) [] ? I believe these were all the rage years ago (look at the commercial list at the bottom of the article). They are nothing new. So are you proposing that the internet have these built into them to increase efficiency and network usage? Wouldn't it just be easier to let people pay for these services like we've been doing? Oh no, my bandwidth is being ate up and people on the other side of the country are experiencing huge latency! Time to fork out a monthly fee to a CDN, I guess. It'll be more expensive to host a large site but nothing some ads couldn't take care of--free market to the rescue.

I'm sick of people that get up on a soapbox and rip apart a good idea because it's not perfect. Bitch bitch bitch IPv4 has been broken from the start. Well, duh, do you think IPv6 is any less flawed? There's still a limit, who cares if it's 10 or 10,000 years in the future because it's going to have to be dealt with at some point!

This article really is a piece of work. A man who works on the API of something that thrives on "a broken internet" bashing said internet and pointing at others to dream up ideas to fix what he thinks is wrong. All I see is griping, not a single original solution to these problems. Yeah, I'm sorry consumers don't have the same priorities and requirements that you do but, well, that's why you're going to see a technology like Windows 98 triumph over Linux. Align yourself with your user or consumer and you'll start to understand things.

Re:How Is This Different From a CDN? (2, Interesting)

Pollardito (781263) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546927)

I may be misinformed but how is this any different than a Content Delivery Network (CDN) [] ? I believe these were all the rage years ago (look at the commercial list at the bottom of the article).

Akamai claims that 20% of the internet's traffic flows through their network, so I'd say they're all the rage now

Re:How Is This Different From a CDN? (1)

moreati (119629) | more than 5 years ago | (#25547063)

There's still a limit, who cares if it's 10 or 10,000 years in the future because it's going to have to be dealt with at some point!

Me, I care quite a lot in fact.

And there's no commenting! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25546569)

Oh wait, that was my report on the last software project I took over. EVERYTHING is built wrong, but don't worry, I'll do it perfectly this time.

The Internet Is 'Built Wrong' (4, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546573)

So was a 1932 Ford. So were the highways in 1932. So was an analog computer in 1959.

The only thing wrong about the internet is that it has become obsessed with money rather than information. Technical issues will be worked out over time.

Re:The Internet Is 'Built Wrong' (4, Funny)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546737)

Don't personify the internets!

We don't want them getting the idea that they are alive.

No one can predict the future well (3, Insightful)

hansraj (458504) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546575)

Film at 11!

The internet wasn't designed to be used the way it is being used today anyway. So, you keep finding shortcomings and try to work your way around. SMTP has problems? Well here use some PGP and *some* of the problems are taken care of. Most things work in an evolutionary way anyway.

Re:No one can predict the future well (1, Offtopic)

Grey_14 (570901) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546877)

well the problem with snmp in particular, is that a lot of small devices use snmp, such as routers, switches, sensors, etc. And those don't tend to get a lot of upgrades that add stuff like pgp, so instead they have to be vlan'd off to some dark corner or just have snmp disabled entirely.

Re:No one can predict the future well (2, Funny)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 5 years ago | (#25547021)


Thank you for playing tech acronym soup.

Re:No one can predict the future well (4, Funny)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 5 years ago | (#25547149)

The internet wasn't designed to be used the way it is being used today anyway.

Incorrect - there has always been porn on the internet.

This coming from someone at twitter (4, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546579)

This is very ironic coming from a web-2.0 junkie who captains a site that is *constantly* having outages.
I think this may be semantics, but the Internet was not built wrong, it was *used* wrong. The original design perfectly met the needs of the time. Expectations change, and all we are seeing is that under our *present* needs the system can bend in some areas, and break in others. If we could go back and "fix" it we would do it a lot differently, of course. Hindsight is 20/20 after all.
I, for one, think it was put together pretty well. It's up to us to keep it working, the internet is always ready for re-invention.

Re:This coming from someone at twitter (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25546723)

This story should be tagged "failwhale."

Re:This coming from someone at twitter (1)

uberjack (1311219) | more than 5 years ago | (#25547131)

Personally, I think what's wrong with the Internet is the popularity of shit sites and services like Twitter, Facebook and MySpace. As far as I'm concerned, someone who hosts something as simple as Twitter has no right to bitch or moan about "the Internet". Shit, the functionality for the site is simple enough to be implemented within 2 days, by a developer worth his salt.

So let me get this straight... (5, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546585)

HTTP and JavaScript on TCP/IP over IPV4 is "not the best it could be"?

Wow, I'm fascinated by your ideas and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Another blowhard (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546595)

Does he, pray tell, offer a practical means to fix the problem?

No? I'm shocked. And I didn't even need to RTFA to figure that one out.

How to fix Twitter (5, Funny)

TimHunter (174406) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546597)

The only thing wrong with Twitter is that it has too many users. The way to fix it is to stop using it.

Re:How to fix Twitter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25546953)

You mean the way to fix it is to just shut the service down. Because you know the jackasses who think that everyone needs instant updates about their trivial existence won't stop using it. Not being able to send out their tweets would be damaging to their vanity.

Who put the 'twit' in ..... (1)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546607)

I have found nothing useful in twitter. This is not the revelation that will change my mind.

Yea me! (1)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546617)

I work for Twitter and now somebody other than my mom may listen to me! Twitter is important damnit!

Re:Yea me! (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546881)

So you're the guy I need to ask this of. What, exactly IS twitter and what is it used for?

And what twit gave it that name that begs to be made fun of?

Internet Fundamentals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25546623)

The Internet is just a big packet-switched network. What does he want? Circuit switched networks? Even the telephone networks are switching over to packet core.

wait wait (1)

ionix5891 (1228718) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546639)

let me get this straight

twitter?! twitter redefined Fail when it comes to how to run large sites/service

they should be the last people to listen on this subject

He's right about ipv4 (1)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546659)

Because at 2^32-1 addresses it simply stops. We are running out of ipv4 and there is only one real solution. Adopt ipv6. Unfortunately there is some extreme prejudice again ipv6 especially here at Slashdot. And if somehow a contingent of techies is against it, the spread of ipv6 will be slowed down due to non-adoption.

Wake up people, we are running out of addresses and time. Don't settle for half-baked NAT, adopt ipv6. Whine to your ISP and to your boss that it is absolutely neccesairy to ipv6.

That or pray for best. And stack some canned soup and shotguns.

Re:He's right about ipv4 (4, Funny)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546789)

And stack some canned soup and shotguns

I've found that a simple crank-operated can opener works far better than a shotgun.

And soup? Screw the soup, stockpile beer!

Re:He's right about ipv4 (1)

Jeff Hornby (211519) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546853)

Sounds great, you can pay for it.

I haven't seen any real estimates of the cost of moving to IPV6, but it's going to be substantial. How much do you have in your wallet?

Re:He's right about ipv4 (4, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546857)

Meh. I've got access to a block of addresses that is so hilariously larger than anything I'll ever need that I NAT some of my home servers through proxies at work for the static IP. If we reclaimed all the unused addresses, we could string out IPv4 for another decade or so.

Moving to IPv6 is one of those things that sounds like it's going to be soooooo easy, and has the potential to be hell on earth. Adoption is happening, slowly and surely, but it's still happening. I see no reason to panic and try and force a quick transition when the only thing that that will get us is chaos.

Re:He's right about ipv4 (1)

apathy maybe (922212) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546869)

Kapor is in his element now, fluent, thoroughly in command in his material. "You go tell a hardware Internet hacker that everyone should have a node on the Net," he says, "and the first thing they're going to say is, 'IP doesn't scale!'" ("IP" is the interface protocol for the Internet. As it currently exists, the IP software is simply not capable of indefinite expansion; it will run out of usable addresses, it will saturate.) "The answer," Kapor says, "is: evolve the protocol! Get the smart people together and figure out what to do. Do we add ID? Do we add new protocol? Don't just say, we can't do it." []

People have known since at least 1991 that IPv4 is shit.

Re:He's right about ipv4 (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546919)

Because at 2^32-1 addresses it simply stops. We are running out of ipv4 and there is only one real solution.

The "Real Solution" is to stop running out, whether it be due to more practical usage or due to changing over to a system which has a larger address range. Who says you *need* to adopt a completely different system? While there are plenty of advantages to IPv6, don't think you will win anyone over with the "but our 4,294,967,294 addresses are almost gone!" argument. You will not.

His brilliant wisdom coming 17 years too late (3, Informative)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546937)

It's hardly going out on a limb criticizing IPv4 -- it has proven an easy target for going on two decades now, with its weakness apparent to all.

And the switch to IPv6 is happening. Many backbone providers are rolling it out, and it is gaining wider support among mainstream operating systems and applications. The only reason it hasn't been a hastier migration is that NAT really did undermine the necessity for expediency.

Many Organically Grown Systems Are Non-Optimal (2, Interesting)

CheeseburgerBrown (553703) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546661)

Many systems that have grown in an organic or semi-organic fashion are non-optimal (like, for example, most people you know and every decision ever rendered by a committee).

With something as complex and "live" as the Internet, process is more important than paradigm: the real question is how to optimize from the current live state, rather than mumbling pointlessly about how it should've had better roots.

Shoulda but didna. So, let's move on.

Also, I tried to send this guy a tweet but all I got was a message saying, "I'm sorry, a problem has occured; please reload the page."


X Windows?? (3, Insightful)

kisrael (134664) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546665)

He quotes Alan Kay:
"HTML on the Internet has gone back to the dark ages because it presupposes that there should be a browser that understands its formats... You don't need a browser, if you followed what this Staff Sergeant in the Air Force knew how to do in 1961. You just read [data] in. It should travel with all the things that it needs, and you don't need anything more complex than something like X Windows."

I'm not sure which is worse; the idea of every screen being rendered on a server and then piped over to the user, or every interaction is an object being sent with its data, which seems like a security nightmare.

besides don't most of us download, say, the browser anyway? Kind of a boot strap thing.

It's kind of like those "enhanced" DVDs then, put in a PC, offer to install some weird ass player...

Re:X Windows?? (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546893)

...besides don't most of us download, say, the browser anyway? Kind of a boot strap thing...

nicely put.

Re:X Windows?? (2, Insightful)

dedazo (737510) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546971)

X was built as a graphical client-server protocol, and it scales OK for a few dozen users (with caveats w/r to your bandwidth, etc) although it's not used that way very much anymore.

But it would never scale to the level that a just-serving-html-ma'am BSD/Apache box with a gig of RAM does.

Re:X Windows?? (4, Funny)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 5 years ago | (#25547183)

Sorry, I couldn't read the rest of your post. My brain short-circuited at this line:

don't need anything more complex than something like X Windows.

All fluff no substance (4, Insightful)

ghmh (73679) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546667)

This can basically be summarised as "Hindsight is a wonderful thing.....if only we knew then what we know now..."

This spurious argument also equally applies to:

  • Human evolution
  • Town planning
  • How you should have described the haircut you wanted, instead of the one you got

amongst countless other things...

(Oh noes, someone is wrong on the internet [] )

Too right to be wrong (1)

BitHive (578094) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546689)

This article reads like a Ron Paul supporter griping about the evils of government given the efficacy of the invisible hand.

Cute! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25546693)

Isn't that cute, programmers pretending they are real engineers, by doing little studies on large systems, while ignoring the failings of their own smaller programs.

Satisficing (2, Interesting)

redelm (54142) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546695)

"Better is the enemy of the good". Sure, there are apparent (theoretical?) flaws in the Intarwebs. As there are in all things. The bigger question is whether these flaws are fatal in practice.

IPv6 is an interesting case study. Theoretically better, but largely unadopted. The net benefits cannot be large.

Too many projects have been killed by over-optimizing. And people who say something is impossible should get out of the way of those actually doing it!

Re:Satisficing (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#25547235)

The net benefits of IPv6 are large (The ability to connect everything to the internet and have them universally accessible allows some really neat "world of the future" ideas to be practically implemented.), but to most people, they don't seem very relevant yet, as we won't be hitting the limits of the address space for a few years yet.

When we do start feeling the limits in a few years, I predict there will be a mad scramble to implement IPv6. Or given the way most North American ISPs seem to work, a mad scramble to implement half-assed shortsighted workarounds that will be more expensive and less functional.

Huh. (1)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546721)

Oh, yeah, the way the internet has absolutely nothing to do with cost and technological limitations decades ago and when the internet was born it was a military network and later was generally a tool used between schools, then businesses, and much later just anyone who wanted to use it.

Nothing at all.

Pot calling the kettle black... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25546727)

baby steps there alex payne, baby steps. first focus and fix twitter, THEN look to larger projects.

until then, leave it to the big boys. why is this even news on /.?? Must be a slow day.

SO much of it is wrong (1, Insightful)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546753)

Besides the above noted and obvious problems, there are sub-problems that are just as nasty.


We all know Flash sucks. But alternatives to it require hiring an engineer.


You can draw a picture in PostScript by typing to the interpreter. Then Fontographer came along and that was followed by FreeHand and Illustrator and then Quark and InDesign. The code became invisible. Where is the Quark and InDesign tool for the web? Cuz Dreamweaver sure ain't it, especially with how CSS dominates graphic dicussion.

Proprietary Browsing.

Every browser is different and they all suck in different ways. MS has been especially egregious with IE.


is US centric. Is insufficient. Is a mess.


Personally, I would cheerfully put a bullet in the head of every sitename squatter on the planet.


It's code centric. It shouldn't be. It should be design centric. Then we could dump all these expensive programmers and get some work done.


covered in the article, still true.

Argh. with the advent of CSS, AJAX, and Web2.0 everything is getting this creepy sameness. It's getting boring. Something's gotta give. Soon.


Re:SO much of it is wrong (5, Insightful)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546817)


It's code centric. It shouldn't be. It should be design centric. Then we could dump all these expensive programmers and get some work done.

Computers are code-centric. If you can't handle it, GTFO.

Re:SO much of it is wrong (0, Offtopic)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#25547013)

You miss the point. A good designer and a bad coder creates better output then a poor designer and a good coder.
The focus on Open Source really misses the point. Open Design and Open Specification are far more important then Open Source. With Open Source you get software and if the programmer quits you you will need to reread the code try to get in the mind of the coder to continue development, hense why a lot of good open source projects do die. Open Design and Open Specs means if the program stops we have the information to create a new code. For the bulk of the Small to Medium sized apps rewritting it to meet the specs is quicker then maintaining existing code. Open Source doesn't equate to Open Specifications. You can write you code to do what it does but without letting others know what you plan to acomplish what doors for future development you left open.

It is like making a chasy for a car without letting anyone know what the final car is sopposed to be. Open Spec gives the person how the car is made and what each part does. Then a builder can follow the spec and build the car to the origional concept.

With respect to Zombie Felon Theodore Stevens... (1)

jesdynf (42915) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546771)

If I'm to understand you properly, you want the internet to be more trucklike, because the tubes are too long.

n00b (3, Interesting)

Zebra_X (13249) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546781)

SMTP is a terrible example. Ultimately the users are the ones opening e-mails, getting browser-jacked and their passwords stolen because they don't know what is in front of them. Sure clients were the problem for a while but that "phase" has passed, developers have learned how to mitigate most attacks.

The only thing that is "wrong" fundamentally with the internet is the separation of DNS and the routing protocol.

For all intents and purposes a DNS failure causes a network outage. It also dramatically increases client latency when it is not configured correctly which look like network issues, but are not.

I'm sure when IPv4 was created the notion of mixing both services was unthinkable due to the additional amount of data needed to move names around at layer 2/3. This is no longer the case and we should really try to move away from a central naming system.

Re:n00b (2, Informative)

Paralizer (792155) | more than 5 years ago | (#25547049)

Interesting idea and I see why that would be a desirable feature. You give it and you get routed directly to without a potential MITM DNS attack. However, it seems to me that DNS and routing should be separated as they perform entirely different functions.

Routing is how to get there.
DNS is where you want to go.

If there were an efficient way to combine them that would be a cool feature, but routing really should only be how to get from point A to point B. What would you do about things like load balancing, failover, and anycast [] ?

The biggest problem with your idea is that DNS updates take way too long to propagate, whereas routing updates are much faster, especially if BGP is not involved. What happens if's main servers go down and you need to reroute to the backups? You'd have to update the DNS, and that could take a long time to propagate to all the DNS servers around the world. A routing update would be much faster.

Sounds good on paper, but I don't think it would work.

Re:n00b (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 5 years ago | (#25547129)

And what would you suggest in its place? You'll still need a database that maps human-readable names to IP addresses. And you'll still need those names to be delivered in an authoritative way, most likely by a centralized service provider(s). Which means you'd be replacing DNS with something that looks an awful lot like DNS, so why bother with the hassle?

The perfect is the enemy of the good.... (3, Informative)

boxless (35756) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546821)

On the shoulders of giants we stand.

Any of these ideas of improvement are not new. But neither are they working. And the internet as we know it is working quite well. Far beyond what anyone would have predicted.

Are there things to be fixed? Sure, around every corner. But I'm not going to listen to some guy from some wicked kewl startup in SFO tell me how to do it.

John McCain - Vote For Flight Safety +1, True (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25546825)

and auto safety []
by voting against John "I was a P.O.W." McCain.

Moreover, McInsane wants to redistribute your wealth to the military-industrial-Congressional complex.

Kilgore Trout

P.S.: Slashdot, please allow Cyrillic font. Thanks.

rough consensus and running code (5, Insightful)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546847)

"We reject: kings, presidents and voting. We believe in: rough consensus and running code." - David D. Clark [] , former chair of the IAB

You get to say the internet was "built wrong" as soon as we see your "better" idea run.

This is coming from the guy... (4, Funny)

inotocracy (762166) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546915)

...who could barely keep Twitter up and running for 24 hours straight without it going down?

twitter wasn't built wrong (1)

darrenkopp (981266) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546959)

ruby and mysql were built wrong. ok, next person blame something else and how these 2 things weren't built wrong.

Re:twitter wasn't built wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25547019)

Yo mama was built wrong.

There. That's two things.

Remember the original purpose of the Internet (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546961)

The original purpose of what was to become the Internet was to survive a nuclear war that disabled large parts of the network.

Of course, things changed over time, notably the size and the commercialization of it. With size, the architecture of the base protocols and the higher-level protocols changed several times, entire applications came and went (USENET is dying in a morass of spam, Gopher was all but killed by the web).

Even its original purpose is no longer served thanks to the disappearance of the "everyone will carry all traffic on request" that came about with commercialization.

The Internet has grown pretty much organically, without direction from a central authority since the 1980s and possibly since the beginning, and it will continue to grow organically in the near future.

it's the tubes.. (1)

p5linux (764567) | more than 5 years ago | (#25546991)

It's all the various internets and their tubes are clogged. Call roto-router.

I am right and the entire Industry is wrong! (2, Funny)

Atriqus (826899) | more than 5 years ago | (#25547005)

TFA reminded me of a particular daily WTF [] .

Fail whale (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 5 years ago | (#25547039)

Make room for fail whale!

I Just Thought It Was Built For Slashdot Fag Mods (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25547055)

Like the ones here.
Fuck you FAGS.

Upside down.... (1)

AioKits (1235070) | more than 5 years ago | (#25547065)

Fuck! The blueprints we used were being held upside down... Alright guys, gut 'er and lets try again! This time someone put like an up arrow on the damned prints so we know if we're doing this right...

Remind me never to work for Twitter (5, Insightful)

the_duke_of_hazzard (603473) | more than 5 years ago | (#25547067)

This guy sounds like the kind of twat who joins our company, bitches about how badly everything's been written, then leaves behind a load of shitty unmaintainable code that's "really clever". And somehow he's in charge at Twitter? Christ.

Built wrong? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#25547089)

Built wrong for whom? Those that demand cash for every bit or people that demand freedom of every bit?

Ah, anonymous reader on Twitter (1)

MattW (97290) | more than 5 years ago | (#25547099)

I love how 'Anonymous Reader' can comment on how Twitter was built wrong. You show us your service handling something servicing 3 million customers 2 years after launch, then you can lay the smack down.

Not that Payne is exactly insightful or entirely correct. IPv4 is part of a stack comprising most Internet traffic, but it is not a necessary part of the Internet; nor is SMTP.

oh dear (0, Flamebait)

JonnyChaos (1308859) | more than 5 years ago | (#25547105)

interesting how the person raising complaints about the lack of reliability in the twitter service is accused of trolling. we don't monkeys at typewriters, we have hipsters with nonfunctional web services blogging.

The Only thing Broken is the Author's Argument (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 5 years ago | (#25547161)

It is incorrect IMHO, or at the very least misleading, to suggest that "the Internet is broken" merely because one does not like a couple of the more commonly used protocols. In any discussion of the merits or demerits of the Internet is important to recall the original design goals of the Internet, or those networks which preceded and naturally developed into what we now call the Internet. Although this information is doubtless well known to the members of the Slashdot crowd, it does bear repeating here to rebut the arguments of the "Twit" (pun intended) that the Internet is "built wrong". First and foremost the Internet was built to be redundant and decentralized in the event of failures and second, the general philosophy taken with protocol design was purposefully minimalist (i.e. the simplest thing that could possibly work) with the understanding that the network design would be stack based with increasingly complex and fully featured pieces built on top of and independent of the underlying core protocols. Although there have been minor flaws here and there the Internet as a whole has succeeded beyond perhaps even the wildest expectations of those who have labored both to create it and to perpetuate its existence, a testament to the wisdom and foresight of minimalist protocols and stack based network design which are taken for granted these days but were revolutionary at the time when the work which would become the Internet as we know it was first being done.

someone needs a history lesson (4, Insightful)

wickerprints (1094741) | more than 5 years ago | (#25547163)

Internet protocols and standards were originally implemented for academic use. Decades ago, TCP/IP, SMTP, DNS, and HTTP were created with an implicit assumption of trust between client and server--indeed, between all nodes in the network. The Internet was an exercise in efficient data transfer across a network. It was not designed for spam, or DDoS, or phishing; nor was it designed for shopping, bank account management, or YouTube. That we can do these things now is a reflection of the workarounds that have been developed in the meantime.

Furthermore, hardware at the time of the development of these protocols was not what it is today.

And then, over the course of several years, the monetizing and commercialization of this academic project occurred. ISPs, in order to reach the masses, established an inherently unequal system of access that encouraged consumption of content but discouraged users from hosting it. The solution that has come about in more recent years, with blogs, social networks, and so forth, was to have users submit content and have it hosted by large, ad-revenue based corporations. This has led to serious problems concerning the nature of ownership of information.

And now, we have one of the people running such a site, complaining that the underlying model on which their company relies is "built wrong" because it doesn't suit their needs. Well, isn't that rich? It smacks of willful ignorance of not only what the Internet is, but more importantly, the original design principles (egalitarian, neutral) that the Internet embodied.

The pace of technology is rapid. History, however, is long, and the danger I see here is not that you have one idiot who hasn't learned his history lesson, but that as time goes by, more and more people and corporations and politicians will forget why the Internet was originally built. That's why we have companies against Net neutrality. They have forgotten or ignored history. They took something free and made billions off of it, and they want to milk it for all it's worth. And therein lies the real problem, because when you forget where something came from, you become disconnected from the past and blind to the future.

System first, then requirements (2, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#25547175)

Of course the Internet doesn't scale to its projected size, and of course SMTP is insufficiently secure. This has nothing to do with the worse-is-better design, though. It's just that the Internet existed before any of those requirements were even conceived.

Nobody thought, "Hmm, you know, we have a requirement for electronic mail to be secure, but that's too hard, so we'll just skip it". Certainly no one thought "We're going to need more than 2^32 Internet nodes, but that's too hard, so we won't do it. Instead, the use to which IPv4 and SMTP have been put to have resulted in newly discovered requirements which were simply not there originally.

look (1)

omar.sahal (687649) | more than 5 years ago | (#25547187)

One thing that I have noticed is that the original article [] , written by Richard Gabriel, outlining c/unix (worse) over lisp (better) has been totally ignored. Richard Gabriel was suggesting c/unix had got some things right and conceded

It is important to remember that the initial virus has to be basically good.

he also said

However, I believe that worse-is-better, even in its strawman form, has better survival characteristics than the-right-thing, and that the New Jersey approach when used for software is a better approach than the MIT approach.

MIT approach being another name for better/lisp model of development.
This leads him to say

I think there will be a next Lisp. This Lisp must be carefully designed, using the principles for success we saw in worse-is-better.

I intend (at some point) to learn lisp so this is not an attack on this language, as I believe learning it will make me a better programmer. As for the Alex Payne I choose the great programmers who have worked on TCP/IP etc over the past 40 years, than him.

This is why we need.... (1, Funny)

RockoTDF (1042780) | more than 5 years ago | (#25547219)

A secretary of the internet! (
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