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Why the IETF Isn't Working

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the maybe-we-should-pay-these-people dept.

The Internet 103

An anonymous reader writes "Vidya Narayanan spent seven years working on the Internet Engineering Task Force, and was nominated for the Internet Architecture Board. But she declined the nomination and left the IETF because standards bodies are not able to keep up with the rapid pace of tech development. She says, '[W]hile the pace at which standards are written hasn't changed in many years, the pace at which the real world adopts software has become orders of magnitude faster. Standards, unfortunately, have become the playground for hashing out conflicts and carrying out silo-ed agendas and as a result, have suffered a drastic degradation. ... Running code and rough consensus, the motto of the IETF, used to be realizable at some point. Nowadays, it is as though Margaret Thatcher's words, "consensus is the lack of leadership" have come to life. In the name of consensus, we debate frivolous details forever. In the name of patents, we never finish. One recent case in point is the long and painful codec battles in the WebRTC working group.'"

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IETF kills projects (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46738843)

with bureaucratic drudgery.

Re:IETF kills projects (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46738981)

Buck Feta.

Re:IETF kills projects (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46739227)

I saw Buck Feta open for Betta Chedda in Tillamook, Oregon in '98.

Re:IETF kills projects (1)

Buck Feta (3531099) | about 3 months ago | (#46741751)

Roquefort and roll, baby.

Corporatization (5, Insightful)

justaguy516 (712036) | about 4 months ago | (#46738847)

The working groups are infested by corporate types, from Cisco, Google, Microsoft, you name it. IETF was made what it was due to academics - van Jacobson, Jonathan Postel, Sally Floyd, Henning Schulzrine. No wranglings about patent rights or the need to keep their respective companies competitive edge.

Re:Corporatization (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46738903)

Corporate types?! What, you've never seen academics argue about nothing? They'll call a meeting, someone will utter the idiom "knock on wood" in passing, and then they'll literally spend the rest of the day debating whether the idiom "to knock on wood" is anti-Semitic. The original reason for the meeting will be forgotten, they'll clear their schedules, and they'll even cancel their classes to continue the debate. No work will be done.

Re:Corporatization (3, Insightful)

Sun (104778) | about 4 months ago | (#46739039)

No work will be done.

As opposed to... ?


No shit (4, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 4 months ago | (#46739063)

You can hate on corporate types for various thing, but anyone who acts like academics know how to get anything done has never worked in academia. I work at a university and fuck me do we spend ages spinning our wheels, having meeting after endless meeting, discussing shit to death, and finally doing things 10 years after they needed to be done.

Speed is not what you find in an academic environment.

Re:No shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46739165)

Occasionally you find speed in an academic environment, when some fool is hired from the private sector, who tries desperately to impress everyone by spending an entire year's budget in a month, and then resigns.

Re:No shit (5, Insightful)

lars_stefan_axelsson (236283) | about 3 months ago | (#46739857)

You can hate on corporate types for various thing, but anyone who acts like academics know how to get anything done has never worked in academia. I work at a university and fuck me do we spend ages spinning our wheels, having meeting after endless meeting, discussing shit to death, and finally doing things 10 years after they needed to be done.

Well having done both big corporate telecoms standardisation and academia, I know which place I rather work in... (And I ultimately put my money where my mouth is. Or rather, didn't put my money as it were, salary not being an academic strong suit).

Sure, the local bike shedding can be tiresome, but our actual work, i.e. research, is cut throat and a model of efficiency and sanity. (Don't laugh. Cry if you have to, but don't laugh). There's very little politics in that side of the "business" and if you think there is, don't ever, for the love of all you hold holy, get involved in the corporate world. That's not just moving to the bad side of town, that's leaving civilisation altogether.

We used to hold the IETF, current warts and all, as the highest standard to follow (pun intended), but also saw where we were headed with the increased pressure, as TCP/IP became important to the political types and not just a nerd affair for sensible, reasonable people any more. You know, the kind of people that can listen to argument, grudgingly realise that another suggestion has technical merit and go along with that, instead of pushing their hidden agenda at all cost, and above all else.

When you've seen how the big boys make their sausage, you'd be as surprised as we were that your phone and mobile internet works at all. It's nothing short of an all out heroic struggle by the engineers in the trenches that makes it so. The rest of the system tries with all its might to prevent that from happening.

Re:No shit (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 3 months ago | (#46739909)

I like working in an academic environment, but getting shit done isn't the strong suit, particularly standards. You get a bunch of faculty on a committee and it'll take years to decide what to call the damn thing.

Just saying that the claim that the reason the IETF can't move fast is because of corporations as opposed to academics is silly.

Re:No shit (1)

lars_stefan_axelsson (236283) | about 3 months ago | (#46740081)

Well, I dunno. I think it's more a question of the size of the organisation in that case. As more people are interested, and larger entities (whether corporate or academic) things will move slower, and slower and slower. And the larger the more "useless" political types, middle managers etc. will be attracted. Like flies... Case in point, remember Usenet before the year "September never ended"? Same effect.

In any case. My main point was that academia is after all at least mostly honest. The corporate players are often openly or covertly malicious. Like Stallman put it (paraphrase), it's not a question of how much faster you can run than your competitors, rather, how much you can slow them down, by tripping them up or shooting at them. And if that makes you stand still, that doesn't matter.

Re:No shit (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 3 months ago | (#46740957)

I'm not sure I agree on the honesty thing either. I see all types. Some are extremely honest, some are shady as hell. Heck we have some professors that basically just milk tenure. They don't teach, don't research, just sit around and collect a paycheck because it is too difficult to fire them. It really runs the gamut.

Re:No shit (1)

lars_stefan_axelsson (236283) | about 3 months ago | (#46747537)

Well sure. That's an "abuse" of the system. But I bet most of these are at least honestly not working. And being passive beats being actively malicious every time.

That said. I've met plenty of people in industry that spent their days just carrying around a binder. Hell, I've been one of those guys, at least partially and at least some of the time. So again, it's not a unique to academia.

To summarize. If you haven't been in industry. Don't for a second think the grass is even a shade greener. If it looks that way to you, it's only because marketing got to it before the brown and wilting became too obvious. :-)

Re:No shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46744805)

TCP is not reasonable.

Virtually all internet communications revolves around streams of messages. What does TCP give you? Streams of bytes. Pray tell, what is reasonable about encapsulating messages in streams of bytes, then taking those streams of bytes and segmenting them into messages again for transmission over a message based transmission system (usually Ethernet)?

What is reasonable about an OS that wakes up a process so that it can read a stream of de-encapsulated bytes, only to find that it hasn't enough bytes to reconstruct a message, and therefore cannot perform any action? Or to have a second-level state machine solely for the purpose of reconstructing messages?

Actually my criticism is unfairly levelled at TCP. The real issue is in the braindead approach OS take to interfacing programs with TCP. It would be trivial to have an OS reconstruct messages from a TCP stream, and only deliver them to the application when they are complete, and the wire protocol barely varies from one in which messages are segmented and deliminated save for a few bytes of protocol overhead.

TCP predates IP, and was designed from the outset to enable programmers to treat a TCP socket as much like an async serial port as feasible.

Berkeley sockets was designed by a bunch of pothead students at UCB. Is it any surprise they came up with such an abysmal API? The shame is that every OS copied from them.

Re:No shit (1)

lars_stefan_axelsson (236283) | about 3 months ago | (#46747657)

TCP is not reasonable.

Sure there are problems, many and obvious. It's showing its age, no doubt about it.

However, there's a reason that it won, as the stuff that came out of industry (esp. telecom) was and is so much worse that it would make your eyes bleed. Why? Well, because any reasonable solution would make the telephone company less powerful and it would make it more difficult to charge for ever little operation. Hence circuit switched everywhere, all the smarts in the center of the network, and please make that as centralised as possible.

The mistakes made in TCP (in hindsight) were at least honest. We didn't know any better then. The "mistakes" made in telecoms were made for a completely different reason. They were made from a position of power that was going to make damn sure that it didn't lose that power and technology and society be damned.

Remember, that if it weren't for TCP/IP you could have had all the X.25 or ISDN you would have been willing to pay for. Which wouldn't have been a lot... It's no accident that the pricing structure came first, and the protocols as a consequence of that, in the telecom protocols, with pricing not even part of the TCP/IP suite.

Be very careful what you wish for... :-)

Re:No shit (1)

YoungHack (36385) | about 3 months ago | (#46740507)

What I hate most are the meta-discussions; discussing what we're going to discuss. And the meta-meetings; meetings to decide when we're going to meet.

Re:No shit (5, Interesting)

bcboy (4794) | about 3 months ago | (#46740823)

Completely disagree. I worked over a decade in the valley, and have now worked for several years in academia. The amount of bureaucratic nonsense I have to deal with now is a few orders of magnitude smaller than what went on in the corporate world. My first six months in academia were more productive than my last six years in the private sector.

Academia does not have the cash required to sustain a large bureaucracy. It's simply not there. Technologies that, in the corporate world, would be managed by a team of thirty people, in academia are managed by one person, because that's all they can afford. Things that took months, or years, now take hours, or days. It could not be more starkly different.

Worse still (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46741219)

Even worse, it could be a UN meeting.

Re:No shit (3, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 3 months ago | (#46741271)

You can hate on corporate types for various thing, but anyone who acts like academics know how to get anything done has never worked in academia. I work at a university and fuck me do we spend ages spinning our wheels, having meeting after endless meeting, discussing shit to death, and finally doing things 10 years after they needed to be done.

I've worked at universities and I've contracted for some very big companies. If you think that universities are worse than companies, then you've never worked for a Really Big Company. Those guys seriously cannot find their ass with both hands without a document from legal, singned by an executive, passed to purchasing (all 3 in different countries, btw), then bounced back and forth for 7 or 8 iterations (72 hr round trip) because legal are incapable of either writing a coherent contract, purchasing don't give a flying fuck anyway because it's not their budget and not even their division of the company and besides are incapable of passing more than 30% of the requested changes to legal anyway, so you can only tend exponentially towards an agreed contract.

Oh and at the end of it, they still will have only managed to find their ass with one hand.

Oh and I shit you not, the invoices still go through a fucking fax machine: I found this out when one got bounced after about 40 days with an unintelligible message. Seriously a fax actually still exists in the critical path internally. It had been printed, the shoved bak into a fax machine, emailed somewhere eventualy tagged as invalid and emailed back.

Speed is not what you find in an academic environment.

Depends at what. They're not generally good at deciding what colour to paint the bikeshed in an efficient manner.

On th eother hand, research (their primary job) does get done often with brutak efficiency. The teaching seems to bumble along somewhat reliably too.

Bottom line however is large organisations are inefficient. There's no noticable difference between copanies, universities and government departments of a similar size.

Re:Corporatization (4, Informative)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | about 4 months ago | (#46739193)

For an example on the "speed and effectiveness" of corporate standard setting, you need look no further than the Microsoft designed "OOXML" standard. It's greased rails acceptance over the loud protests of competent engineers, and the political process abuse that led to its acceptance, led to Microsoft tools being labeled as "standards compliant" when they clearly did not even follow the OOXML standards that were railroaded through ISO acceptance.

That event led a lot of people to _resign_ from ISO, because the "corporate speed" led to a badly fractured standard which not even its own sponsoring compoany followed or could hope to follow.

Re:Corporatization (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46739263)

OOXML in not an example of speed as much as it is one of corruption and irregularities. The speed was a byproduct of the corruption. It was covered in detail at Groklaw and the EFFI, among others. Pretty much every single country involved displayed irregularities in their process. These irregularities included but were far from limited to stacking committees, whittling down committees and overriding committee decisions. There was a strong correlation between national corruption and OOXML [] but as stated problems with the process were everywhere. Even "low" corruption regions like Sweden and Norway. The Norwegian committee was overridden and most quit in protest, not that M$ or ISO cared about protest.

Further, the specification was "fast tracked" within ISO despite not qualifying for such treatment. M$ and ISO kept selectively ignoring rules until they could finally push the specification through the approval process, despite initial disapproval [] . It was so bad that some considered a possible secondary purpose of the action a discrediting of ISO itself.

There's not enough that can be said on the problems and it was well-documented at the time in disparate news coverage. What's needed now for history is a central summary. It's enough to fill a book.

Re:Corporatization (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46740575)

You almost had me convinced, but your childish use of a $ for an S tells me that you are an anti-Microsoft shill or troll so I have to take what you say with a grain of salt.

Re:Corporatization (1)

delt0r (999393) | about 3 months ago | (#46745245)

Seriously? that is what you need before you take things with a grain of salt. Its on the fucking internet. Everything should be taken with a grain of salt.

Re:Corporatization (3, Insightful)

skids (119237) | about 3 months ago | (#46739949)

Yeah, to say that "standards don't keep up with technological progress" is a one-sided perspective, since technology doesn't keep up with standards. If it did, I'd be more of a coder and less of an implementer, because 80% of my time is papering over standards noncompliance in vendor equipment.

Better to say implementors and standards bodies don't coordinate like they should.

A peek inside the IETF corruption: Zeroconf (1)

dottrap (1897528) | about 3 months ago | (#46745199)

Simply stating "Corporatization" is a massive mischaracterization and oversimplification of describing the situation.
Here is a peek in history from 2005 on the IETF mailing list itself and how IETF tried to sabotage the ratification of Zeroconf (Apple's Bonjour is the best known implementation of the Zeroconf protocol). This isn't simply "Corporatization" as both Apple and Microsoft are fighting and some in the the IETF actively trying to undermine it under the guise of simply offering alternatives (that nobody wants or plans to implement and is broken by design).

Stuart Cheshire is the creator of Zeroconf and calls them out directly on the IETF mailing list in 2005. [] [] [] []

Re:Corporatization (1)

Buck Feta (3531099) | about 3 months ago | (#46741887)

This is what happens when you have no governing body - the corporations govern. Ever since Jon Postel died, there has not been a strong leader with no commercial affiliations, which is what the IETF needs - paid (well-paid) positions for scientists who are committed to the advancement of internetworking as a whole. But what happens when something like Cisco's FabricPath beats TRILL to market? You can't regulate innovation, and that, as I see it, is the main problem with trying to govern Internet standards. However, that being said, if the IETF standard is better than the Cisco technology (or Juniper or Brocade or Hitachi or whoever), then the IETF standard will win out in the long run (see OSPF vs EIGRP), because consumers ultimately want the best, most widely adopted technology, not necessarily the first technology. So then we're back to having a strong, impartial leadership at the IETF, rather than two or three companies jockeying to have their technology enthroned as a standard.

Thanks, Jon; hope you're onto better things (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about 3 months ago | (#46752363)

1998: "'God of the Internet' is dead " []
"Jon Postel, a key figure in the development of the Internet from its inception, died at the weekend of heart problems aged 55."

Now, thanks to a successful internet, I have learned all about how to prevent and reverse heart disease by eating more vegetables and getting enough vitamin D (a problem for many indoors-oriented technies). Sadly, too late for Jon. Hopefully not too late for Roblimo though? []

The failure to adopt SQLite as a de-facto "Standard" for web browsers shows a deep problem, since a shared FOSS codebase is probably the best standard we can have.
http://programmers.stackexchan... []

Contrast that with suggestions of making de-facto standards by on the ground successes with working code. Which is what SQLite has done in a whole area of embedded storage.

Like Alan Kay has said, any standard with more than three lines is ambiguous. I can agree having had to work implementing a couple standards at IBM.

Re:Corporatization (1)

Hypotensive (2836435) | about 3 months ago | (#46744993)

Absolutely agreed, although what you omitted is why they're there, which is to take their own in-house agendas and cover them with a nice veneer of standards. Nothing demonstrates this more clearly than HTTPbis, where any suggestions that deviate from Google's current implementation are shot down with salvos of "but we already have working code".

Internet is too mature now! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46738859)

We want our Wild Wild Web back, dammit!

And another thing. IT is too mature now! Let's take out all the error recovery code, and if there's an error, we'll have this routine called panic, and when it is called, the machine crashes, and you holler down the hall, "Hey, reboot it!"

Re:Internet is too mature now! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46738951)

Oh yes. I miss running fsck every day. Good times.

Margeret Thatcher? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46738889)

[i]"...Nowadays, it is as though Margaret Thatcher's words, "consensus is the lack of leadership" have come to life..."[/i]

That can't be true! Margaret Thatcher was the most evil woman who has ever lived! NOTHING she said could possibly be true...

Re:Margeret Thatcher? (0, Flamebait)

amiga3D (567632) | about 4 months ago | (#46738921)

I thought Sarah Palin was the most evil that ever lived. You lefties need to make up your minds!

Re:Margeret Thatcher? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46738967)

depends what side of the pond your on... though Palin always struck me as more retarded than constructively evil.

Re:Margeret Thatcher? (1)

znrt (2424692) | about 4 months ago | (#46739005)

just optimized for a different audience.

Re:Margeret Thatcher? (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 3 months ago | (#46740423)

That would be Pelosi. Although retarded is kinda PC so I prefer batshit crazy.

Re:Margeret Thatcher? (2)

DocHoncho (1198543) | about 3 months ago | (#46743345)

Don't worry, crazy people will have social justice advocates before long and then Crazy, even the batshit kind, will be a unacceptable term in the PC world. We don't call them crazy, we call them Differently Alligned with Reality

Re:Margeret Thatcher? (1)

Suffering Bastard (194752) | about 3 months ago | (#46740691)

depends what side of the pond your on... though Palin always struck me as more retarded than constructively evil.

Agreed. That Spanish Inquisitor fellow never could do anything right.

Re:Margeret Thatcher? (1)

gmhowell (26755) | about 3 months ago | (#46744517)

depends what side of the pond your on... though Palin always struck me as more retarded than constructively evil.

Agreed. That Spanish Inquisitor fellow never could do anything right.

Did somebody say "the Spanish Inquisition"?

Re:Margeret Thatcher? (2)

colfer (619105) | about 4 months ago | (#46739019)

Narayanan is agreeing with Thatcher by the way.

Re:Margeret Thatcher? (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about 3 months ago | (#46739645)

I thought the GP was being sarcastic

Sarah Palin is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46745669)

Sarah Palin is too stupid to be really dangerous, Margaret Thatcher on the other was really dangerous because she was smart enough to lie about her evil intentions.

Re:Margeret Thatcher? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46739445)

Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Re:Margeret Thatcher? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46739547)

Evil people can say correct things. Doesn't change that they're evil.

Orders of magnitude? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46738893)

Really? We adopt new software every minute?

Re:Orders of magnitude? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46738931)

Every version of every program is a new software.[/sarcasm]

Re:Orders of magnitude? (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about 4 months ago | (#46739157)

With the programs that autoupdate multiple times per day, the answer is pretty much yes.

Re:Orders of magnitude? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46739979)

That's as silly as saying that every instance of Writer running on the planet is a "new" software because each one has a different text loaded...

You can increase the pace (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46738959)

by making software patent terms shorter. Simple as that, but certainly needs legislation.

Re:You can increase the pace (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46738975)

Next news item: why the legislature isn't working?

IETF has been like this for over 10 years... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46739009)

And they're just waking up to it now?

Maybe even as much as 15 years ... or more ...

Re:IETF has been like this for over 10 years... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46739023)

This still counts as news for the teens in the audience.

Narayanan and submitter are simply wrong. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46739101)

The pace of development in the last decade has been way slower than in the decade before. In 1990 there was barely any commercial Internet, no WWW, and most people were on BBSes. By 2000, we had the basis of everything which made the modern Internet. The 14 years since have been mostly about incremental improvements - tweaks and performance enhancements here and there.

As to Thatcher, she was just another front for business who did as she was told - just like actor-broadcaster Reagan. I'm not sure why those two folks are celebrated so much: they demonstrated neither principle nor originality. It scares me how much they're celebrated as figureheads of the free market when neither of them cared an ounce for it.

Narayanan and submitter are Right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46742837)

No, she is right.

The issue is not about intelligence, but Mammon. Specifically, patents.

Time and again you see great advances occur in some field right when patents expire or become un-enforceable. E.g., SSL in the '90s, 3-printing today

Re:Narayanan and submitter are simply wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46744079)

The pace of development in the last decade has been way slower than in the decade before. In 1990 there was barely any commercial Internet, no WWWIt scares me how much they're celebrated as figureheads of the free market when neither of them cared an ounce for it.

The degenerating organisational quagmires of the IETF, DARPA, et al.--past, present and future--are due to Hindu pu pu du du. You can always go back to your family, if your class project fails.


Warez (1)

Optimal Cynic (2886377) | about 4 months ago | (#46739197)

If you think the IETF is bad, you should look at the pace of change of warez standards. They're only reluctantly abandoning 8.3 filenames.

Absurd (2)

puddingebola (2036796) | about 4 months ago | (#46739205)

IETF should be written lower case, ietf. And the motto should be, "Making the internet work mostly better." After a 2-hour screaming argument with her about this, she still refused to see the wisdom of my argument.

Private sector and efficiency. (4, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 4 months ago | (#46739215)

Efficiency in private sector is defined to be maximizing the return on investment. Private sector efficiency is NOT delivering goods and services at the least cost to most people. If that is the *only* way to maximize the return on investment, they will do it. It happens on simple products like cereal, bread, milk etc. For private sector to deliver most at least cost, many conditions have to be met. There must be competition, product should be simple enough to be understood by the consumer to do value over price evaluation and there should unambiguous price feedback signal.

But private sector efficiency of maximizing return on investment would also include, undermining competition by buying them out, collusion, cartel formation, lobbying the legislators, media misinformation campaigns, bribing the media personalities, intimidating critics and many other tactics. Some of it legal, some questionable, and some outright illegal.

If we confuse the private sectors definition of "maximize return on investment", even after they have openly admitted "it is the fiduciary responsibility of the directors of corporations to maximize profit", with lofty goals like job creation, low prices, wide choices, improvement in living conditions, we are the fools, shame on us, not them.

Re:Private sector and efficiency. (1)

Optimal Cynic (2886377) | about 4 months ago | (#46739297)

Yes, we've known this since Adam Smith and yet somehow it still works better than any other system tried. What's your point?

Re:Private sector and efficiency. (4, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 3 months ago | (#46739589)

My point is, unless we have rules, regulation and the damned government interference, private sector would not deliver prosperity. My point is, it is not a coincidence, the rise of prosperity for the middle class coincided with increasing regulation starting with trust busting, disclosure in stock market, truth in advertising, truth in labeling, product liability laws.

We have known this since the days of Adam Smith, but till about 1960s, the private sector preferred to invest in the developed world, and the third world figured only as a source of raw materials, not competition. Then Japan modernized, then Korea and Taiwan, then came other countries in the Pacific rim. By 1980s the interests of private sector and interests of the general population started diverging. We are still trying deal with the multinational private sector corporations using the lessons learned between 1780 and 1960, without giving due credit for the role of government regulation played in it.

Re:Private sector and efficiency. (1)

careysub (976506) | about 3 months ago | (#46739989)

Points well made. Thanks.

Re:Private sector and efficiency. (0)

roman_mir (125474) | about 3 months ago | (#46742247)

The point is you are an ignoramus of enormous proportions. The rise in wealth in USA was due to the so called 'robber barons', which created entire new industries and allowed the economy to flourish around them. The 'trust busting' was the beginning of the DESTRUCTION of the economy, as it started destroying the principles of private property rights. Government destroys the economy, it doesn't create it, the economy has to be created first for it to be destroyed by the government, and the private sector in the USA built a mighty economy that it took the growing USA government this long to destroy it.

Re:Private sector and efficiency. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46742355)

Wow, just wow !

Re:Private sector and efficiency. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46746935)

The rise in wealth in USA was due to the so called 'robber barons'

Indeed, comrade! Robber barons are the key to raising the economy, and you do not attract robber barons with government regulations. What attracts and creates robber barons is crony capitalism. Government in 19th century didn't regulate. They gave special favors and picked winners.

Most robber barons got rich directly in or thanks to the railroads. But how come railroads were so profitable? Because government decided that railroads should be the winners (a conclusion they reached after the Civil War, which itself was caused by a disagreement between state and federal governments)

Government passed acts to make the transcontinental railroad happen
Government gave land for cheap or for free to railroad companies
Government gave easy money to railroad companies
Government kept the Indians in check (with violence if necessary), so railroad companies didn't have to hire (as much) private security
Government, both state and federal, allowed minorities like Chinese to enter the country, but then restrict them in various discriminatory ways, such as an inability to own land in California, so they remain as cheap labor for the railroad companies to build those railroads.

Speaking of Chinese, their cheap labor were also used as strike breakers against unions. Speaking of unions, this brings us to the lovely guys at Pinkerton, who were used by many business owners and robber barons to combat unions. How did Pinkerton got so successful? It wasn't just from those robber baron crony capitalists. Pinkerton got a huge break when they were hired by the federal government throughout the Civil War, and they continued to be hired for other government work after. They got so huge (large than the standing army) that when Congress finally decided to limit government from hiring strikebreakers, they named the law the anti-Pinkerton act

Re:Private sector and efficiency. (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 3 months ago | (#46749293)

Actually it is a lot more funny than this. You are only looking at crony capitalism of railroads. Expand your horizons to include transportation in general.

In the 1700s canals were the big thing. A nearly bankrupt Brit baron built a canal to deliver his coal to a harbor and became fantastically rich. Then there was this canal building boom. Eminent domain to take land and give to canal companies, tax incentives, tax abatements. Lots of speeches about how canals are going to create jobs and development would pass the city by, unless the poor, the unwashed and the indigent chip in to pay taxes. Canals were built. Early canals really created prosperity. But almost all the late canal extensions were boondoggles.

Then the railroads came in. The canal companies hated the railroad companies. Canal towns created stumbling block for the railroads. Local ordnances, zoning rules, misinformation campaigns. Rail roads passed the canal towns by. You can still see quaint little abandoned villages and hamlets all along the Erie canal untouched by progress. Rail road barons, who were canal barons earlier, ran the same damned schemes all over again. They got so egregious their exploits are more remembered than their fore runners in the canal era.

What is history if it does not repeat itself. When Eisenhower kicked off the interstate highway construction boom, the railroad towns fought the highways tooth and nail. But high ways also had powerful cronies based on the illegal cartel of Firestone, Ford Motor Company and Standard Oil. So railroads towns did not win completely. But there are hundreds of railroad towns like Altoona PA that made sure no high ways come close to them. Altoona with its location on strategic location in the Appalachia is still holding on to rail roads because almost all the East-West rail road traffic must go through that town. But it made sure I-76 came nowhere near it. Till data all auto traffic between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh curve sixty miles south to avoid Altoona. [] (The mountains in between are not the issue. All the railroads go through Altoona. The passage has been graded ages ago, with bridges too. Would have been cheaper to build the new highway through Altoona. But the resurrected the old turn pike)

America has always been afflicted by this crony capitalism. But our Democracy was bringing sanity and regression to the mean, till about 1980s. Then Reagan came, and they perfected the art, nay science, of persuading folks like our friend roman_mir to vote against their own self interest. No wonder we are going down the drain now.

Re:Private sector and efficiency. (1)

david_thornley (598059) | about 3 months ago | (#46749959)

Highways had clout in other ways. Shortly before WWII, a bright and upcoming officer named Eisenhower was ordered to take a truck convoy across the US, to see how that worked. The answer was badly. I suspect that particular experience played a part in the building of the interstates.

Re:Private sector and efficiency. (1)

sjames (1099) | about 3 months ago | (#46744347)

If you're truly invoking Adam Smith, you would agree that incorporation should be quite limited and those corporations thaty are permitted are to be kept on a very short leash.

I've noted that in the U.S. a lot of "capitalists" love to talk about Smith but hate to take his advice.

Re:Private sector and efficiency. (3, Interesting)

RR (64484) | about 3 months ago | (#46739763)

Efficiency in private sector is defined to be maximizing the return on investment. Private sector efficiency is NOT delivering goods and services at the least cost to most people. If that is the *only* way to maximize the return on investment, they will do it. It happens on simple products like cereal, bread, milk etc.

It doesn't even work entirely for those. Civic duty used to be an important part of American education. Now we have mega-banks that capture markets and suck the value out of everything they can.

Commodities Speculation: A Cause of Food Crises? A Crime Against Humanity? []

How Morgan Stanley Has Raked in Billions by Manipulating the Prices of Everyday Commodities []

Sasha Breger: How Commodities Hoarding Distorts Food Prices []

There was an article I read with an evocative image of grain rotting in rail cars while crises erupt in the Middle East, but I can't find that article right now.

With HDL standards are way ahaead of the industry. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46739377)

Take for example VHDL, a language for writing hardware.

We have VHDL '93, in the last few years synthersizes have finallly come to terms about this update. In the mean time we already have a VHDL 2008 standard. There are alsmost no simulators and definitly no synthesizers who can handle VHDL 2008. Since the first implementations of the standard are quite bad, we have decided to start writing VHDL 2008 code in 2028.

Hardware design is something open source needs to get into. However this will not happen until FPGA vendors decide to document their chips so that the open source community is able to create a place-and-route application. Sadly FPGA vendors believe that they are selling a tool chain instead of selling a FPGA. Even more sadly FPGA vendors really suck at developing tool chain, thinking that we want a graphic tool.

I think the only way out is for a chinese vendor to start selling commodity FPGAs with complete documentation, and possible start of with creating and open sourcing their place and route application. Just like how an open source UNIX system starts with a compiler, creating a healthy FPGA development environment starts with a place-and-rout tool.

Re:With HDL standards are way ahaead of the indust (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46740647)

I think the only way out is for a chinese vendor to start selling commodity FPGAs with complete documentation

This is the hidden gem of "funny" on Slashdot today! Have you ever seen Chinese documentation?

When battery replace you board bang polarity over.

Yeah, good luck writing a FLOSS implementation of anything with the documentation you get from Chinese companies.

Re:With HDL standards are way ahaead of the indust (1)

jonwil (467024) | about 3 months ago | (#46742105)

FPGA vendors probably don't want to open up their specs and stuff because they are worried that opening up everything will give their competitors the secrets to what makes their FPGA "good".

Patents may come into it as well (I dont know how the patent situation is in the FPGA marketplace). And possibly a desire to stop people from being able to just buy the FPGAs at x amount per unit and force them to pay up for the toolchain too.

It's complicated (2)

Junta (36770) | about 3 months ago | (#46739389)

I had an RFC go through a few years ago. It was an utterly trivial little thing that would have been a couple of paragraphs and maybe a week or two to get consensus in a private company setting. The RFC was about 10 pages and took over a year to get out of draft. At no point was the fundamental proposal actually objected to in any way by anyone, but little tweaks to the wornding and making certain sections more verbose. There is a lot of nitpicking in the process and a lot of discussion around mostly unimportant stuff. I'd say I had it easy having such a non-objectionable proposal to just suffer the tedium of debates about phrasing and such. Proposals which suggest anything requiring technical consensus are far more tricky.

At the same time, it feels like as of the early 2000s, the private industry has largely given up on driving improved standards in general (not just IETF, but DMTF and several other standards organizations have been relatively stagnant compared to their activity in the 90s). They've figured out it's cheaper (consensus, quicker and more profitable (patents are better than standards) to go it alone without bothering to try for a standard. Of course this leads to the opposite problem, technologies are pushed faster than they are ready. Also, it naturally creates more walled garden style experiences and less robustly federated services. For example, the big things of the 90s were email and the web. Providers were utterly interchangeable. The big things of this decade have been facebook, twitter, youtube. In the 90s, apart from cisco, network management was focused on utterly standardized mibs. Today, switch vendors emphasize proprietary interfaces that are unique for management.

complexity is the enemy of progress (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46739905)

Yea Verily.

Many many moon ago I attempted to make a comment on an IEEE standard to prevent a manufacturer from inserting a proprietary "lock". The email I received from the standard manager was to say the least, [expletive deleted].

Ever since that day I have refused to purchase any equipment from that manufacturer, and have done everything in my power to have their equipment removed from any standard 'notes and details' for equipment installation.

Re:It's complicated (1)

hax4bux (209237) | about 3 months ago | (#46741891)

I worked on SNMP (et al) and it was never smooth. Nobody paid any attention until v1 was out and amazingly got traction. v2 died many deaths until it was simply declared done. SNMP was/is way more than just plain vanilla MIB (which almost nobody uses), there is the "P" (for protocol) an OID encoding scheme, etc.

If you were going to create SNMP today, it would be a dedicated protocol w/OID, BER and all of that. It would be HTTP and XML (or JSON).

I am not sure there needs to be a lot of "new" protocols these days. HTTP won. Use it and move on.

Re:It's complicated (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46744873)

If you were going to create SNMP today, it would be a dedicated protocol w/OID, BER and all of that. It would be HTTP and XML (or JSON).


HTTP cannot use UDP. HTTP requires two roundtrips before any data can be exchanged, which is not something you want in a network management protocol. XML is a mess, which by the very standard has no way in which it can be reliably parsed and interpreted. Both XML and JSON have terrible information efficiency. Neither has any kind of schema or type system, which would and does make interoperability impossible.

HTTP provides no socket security, and even HTTPS cannot provide robust socket security, owing to the reliance on TCP which cannot provide robustness. Sure HTTPS/TLS can provide authentication and encryption, but since the underlying TCP protocol is vulnerable to a slew of sabotage techniques, it can't be relied upon for systems that require connection robustness where a third party can introduce packets, like say: in-band management.

What you suggest is utterly without merit, HTTP did not "win" unless your definition of win is that lots of dumb people continue to use it for all sorts of inappropriate things.

If the pace is too slow, you're doing it wrong. (4, Interesting)

BitZtream (692029) | about 3 months ago | (#46739635)

At one point, engineers designed and considered what they were doing. Forward compatibility was baked in from the start. Standard that don't suck ass take a little bit of time to create.

What this person wants is to call things like twitters website a standard. No planning, no design, just throw it together and keep changing it until its useful for her purpose. Where as I prefer something like SMTP, which while it evolves, it can do so in a way that doesn't require breaking changes because they put just a LITTLE bit of thought into it from the start. Okay, SMTP is a bad example for this case, maybe HTTP is better.

That leads to shit, always has, always will.

Technology doesn't change THAT fast. It really doesn't. If she actually bothered to put real thought and planning into standards, there wouldn't be a need for them to rapidly evolve. The rapid evolution of standards is because you didn't do your homework to start with and just threw some shit out there that fit what you wanted right at that exact instance. Then tomorrow ... you realize that you have a great kitchen sink, but fuck if it has a drain attached to it because you didn't bother to think about that, just that you wanted a sink.

She wants 'Agile' for standards. She can go fuck herself right in the ear. That sort of non-sense is for people who don't want to do actual standards making.

I want standards that are actual standards and aren't already 'out of date' by the time anyone knows they are a standard. Changing technology is not something exclusive to the computer age even if these people don't have any idea that technology has been changing fairly rapidly for the last 150,000 years or so.

Re:If the pace is too slow, you're doing it wrong. (1)

sonamchauhan (587356) | about 3 months ago | (#46743059)

No shit Sherlock? You've figured her out! She's just one of them agile folks ruining everything.

You are probably under some pressure today, or have some other back story thing going on.

Either way, better things are expected from you. Carry on like this, and on your deathbed you'll be wondering why you wasted the time you had... so angry, so long.

Re:If the pace is too slow, you're doing it wrong. (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 3 months ago | (#46744209)

None of the above. I have what you call ... experience.

I'm not really angry, not sure why you think so, perhaps you mean emphatic?

Whats your excuse?

Re:If the pace is too slow, you're doing it wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46748183)

I agree about the unnecessary profanity, but I didn't see anything sexist about that comment, unless using the pronoun "she" has something to do with it.

Re:If the pace is too slow, you're doing it wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46744865)

I am disappointed that such a sexist comment could have been modded "+5 Interesting" by Slashdot. You may disagree with her, but there is no need for violent profanity.

Adapt the present first, define the future later (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about 3 months ago | (#46739673)

Tech may have developed, but has it been adapted? The world is still dragging its feet largely on IPv6. SCP, the successor to TCP, doesn't look like replacing it anytime soon. Nor will FTP or other legacy internet standards be replaced anytime soon. IETF could do better by focusing on the implementation of existing standards, rather than the definition of newer ones.

Re:Adapt the present first, define the future late (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 3 months ago | (#46744215)

SCP doesn't 'replace' TCP any more than UDP does.

IETF needs some changes (1)

ant_tmwx (239616) | about 3 months ago | (#46739813)

As the co-chair of the FTP Working Group & author of 3 RFCs, I can sympathize.

Coming from open source (Metalink) & working on Internet standards can be a very frustrating thing.

I pushed for improvements but made no progress.

The purpose of standards (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46740787)

I have been working on various standards committees for as long as Vidya Narayanan. She's not wrong, but she missed one glaringly large problem:

The purpose of a standard is not to develop anything new. It is to codify common practices and references so that people can build on them. In many respects the purpose of a standard is to stop further development so that people can build things cheaply on common interfaces. If the development is ongoing (such as was the case with the CODEC wars) then it is too soon to make standards.

So, yes, it is frustrating to watch politics slow down a standards effort to a crawl. That process is called development. It is a highly political process. At some point, you have to stop development, set the standard and start building. There will be winners and losers in this process.

In other words, the ITEF is doing its job. Small groups will always be able to run rings around standards. But those small groups won't have the economic power and acceptance that a standard has.

Choose whichever side you feel is best for your products.

Re:The purpose of standards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46742127)

I have to disagree...

She says, '[W]hile the pace at which standards are written hasn't changed in many years, the pace at which the real world adopts software has become orders of magnitude faster.'

You only have to look at how badly a trivial standard such as HTTP Cookies is implemented to see that the idea of standards gets around quickly but actual correct adoption of standards is painfully slow. Most of the top 10,000 site on the Alexa list pump out cookies that don't match any standard but are "somewhat close" to the original Netscape Cookie Proposal. The most common problems are (a) dates being issued in Unix timestamp format instead of any published date format and (b) sites violating the cookie jar limits by outputting 60-70 cookies per request.

Re:The purpose of standards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46748261)

You only have to look at how badly a trivial standard such as HTTP Cookies is implemented to see that the idea of standards gets around quickly but actual correct adoption of standards is painfully slow...

You will always be able to find exceptions to a generalization. Vidya was asserting a generalization, and AC was responding with a counter generalization; whereas you're picking a specific instance as an example. The IETF produces a ton of RFCs, in a bunch of WGs, and of course some one or other RFC won't be followed by the market because the IETF took too long to get it done and the market moved on. That's ok. It's a waste of time for the folks that worked on the RFC, but that's going to happen in any SDO.

I agree with AC: it's slow because it needs to be the "final" version. The IETF produces long-term standards for interoperability among different implementations, not code revisions for a single implementation. When you're writing code for your own product, or deciding the best way to do something with only your own needs in mind, of course you'll get it done faster than dealing with other people. That's not news.

At least one thing seems to work. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46740911)

At least HTTP2 is going strong.

Honestly, the biggest breakage I've seen is totally a result of the lack of running-code first.

Fundemental misunderstanding what IETF is about (2)

WaffleMonster (969671) | about 3 months ago | (#46741367)

People get burned when they think of IETF as means of legitimizing industry support for their particular approach. The IETF is *NOT* that. Most RFCs turn out to be worthless summarily ignored by real world in spite of all process hoops jumped through by WG participants and reviews.

Much better outcomes are realized when IETF is viewed not as a "standards committee" rather as a service no different than github... where instead of developing your own standards process you simply use IETF leeching off existing structure, facilities, recognition, meeting spaces... while not perfect it may well be better and or cheaper than rolling your own.

This means if you want to succeed you need a working implementation first and foremost, actual users in the real world ... "working code" without interested users and or industry partners IS NOT going to cut it. Then finally go to the IETF with your I-D + LEGION of faithful consensus building followers who support your ideas.

The IETF is like a country of mostly autonomous states (WGs) ... Some WG's are oppressive dictatorships taxing oxygen you breath while others are utopias of cooperation where consensus is not merely defined by whatever the chairs want to see... Unfortunately overall governance is not all that great. One of the running jokes for me is appeals process. Having subscribed to IETF announce a millennia ago have never once read or heard of even a single appeal that was ever upheld...ever. This has grown into something of a game to be careful to check before pushing delete in the off chance hell may some day actually freeze over.

In short if you come looking for the IETF to instill legitimacy upon your idea or approach you WILL leave disappointed.

If you come to the IETF from a position of strength willing to put up with some process bullshit you stand a chance of coming out ahead.

the concept of IP is the problem (2)

markhahn (122033) | about 3 months ago | (#46741409)

"Intellectual Property" that is, not Internet Protocol. IETF succeeded when participants were motivated by something other than staking out as much turf to monetize. The basic premise of modern business is "do whatever it takes to get away with as much as possible", which is emphatically not part of the thought process that brought us TCP/IP, SMTP, SSH, HTTP, etc.

The problem is lawyers and MBA weasels who tell everyone that monetization is their primary duty, and that lockin and the resulting "rentier" revenue streams are the ideal course.

Oh no! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46741579)

'Nowadays, it is as though Margaret Thatcher's words, "consensus is the lack of leadership" have come to life.'

I would never, ever trust anyone who quoted Thatcher favourably.

Re:Oh no! (1)

Archtech (159117) | about 3 months ago | (#46742007)

I would never, ever trust anyone who dismisses out of hand all utterances by any specific individual. It's a sure sign of a rigid, closed mind.

Re:Oh no! (1)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 3 months ago | (#46743819)

Maggie was a ten pound hammer used on a five pound problem. Things needed to change and she changed them, then kept on changing them. If I understand my history correctly British Leyland was on strike more day than they were in production (during one of their incarnations). Mayor Giuliani was similar, he massively reduced NYC's crime problem and when that was dealt with he started focusing on things like jaywalkers.

Silo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46741773)

I keep seeing that word. Is it a new trend to use it as a verb/adjective?

"the devil is in the detail" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46742183)

I've worked with a lot of engineers who believe they can understand something without practice or practical experience. Their true talent is social.

The result is focusing on the wrong things. Like the literal representation of system data instead of system behavior.

Most organizations break down (1)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 3 months ago | (#46743803)

Nearly every organization that I have come into contact with broke down in the exact same way. A few incompetents managed to redesign the system. So it goes off the rails of whatever purpose it originally had and begins to concentrate on navel gazing. More and more is spend on things like PR, conferences, communications, legal, and most important of all, who they let in. A simple way to detect if an organization has gone rancid would be the number of MBAs who are in "leadership" positions vs people who actually know how to solve the problems at hand.

It is not so much that an organization should not have MBAs but you never give them the keys, they should be limited to marketing and maybe a little bit of accounting. But once they are in the boardroom then the organization is a walking corpse.

Another simple test is whether the original founders would even be qualified at this point to pass muster as new hires.

Re:Most organizations break down (1)

justaguy516 (712036) | about 3 months ago | (#46744227)

I have seen IETF in operation about 12 years and I have worked with industry bodies such as 3gpp - worked on one particular standard which actually went through the standardization process. Standards bodies are supposed to be slow and stodgy, that is their purpose. There was a time when we used to get objections based on corner cases which (we believed) were irrelevant, but, in any case, the objections were made in good faith. I used to enjoy the debate, trying to get another, obviously very smart person to see my point of view. Nowadays we get objections which, you know, are because of some directive from the other guy's C*O level or some legal or marketing directive, which he is powerless to oppose. You feel embarrassed for the guy, because you know that he isn't allowed to change his stance and therefore all debate is immaterial. This is the effect of corporatization.

Re:Most organizations break down (1)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 3 months ago | (#46744329)

Yuck, death by hidden MBA.

these comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46744913)


Well, read the mailing list and go figure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46745087)

You'd think the IETF has become the Political Correctness Task Force these days. I know the main list has always been a bit of a crackpot place, but it used to be flamefests about NAT, DNS or the pros and cons of IPv6. Now it is about anti-harassment policy, diversity and all that kind of BS. They spend more time trying to protect the "rights" of trolls and the technically illiterate than trying to get some work done. It used to be that idiots were treated as such and you could tell them to go away with their stupid comments. Now, everyone should spend all their time to try to educate them and make sure they feel welcome. So no time should remain to do work as you should pamper trolls and morons.

I have 5+ RFCs with my name on them and the later ones were a total pain to get through as less and less competent people were elected to the IESG and those guys just loved to hear their own voices in every review. You got really shite COMMENTS every time a doc went to the IESG and you had to spend a lot of time to convince them that they were completely off. My favourite was this idiot in the IESG who tried to block us with "how does this relate to $TECHNOLOGY" (which happened to be his own topic). Didn't even read the fucking spec, just expected us to read $TECHNOLOGY and explain any relation to him.
I'm glad I no longer participate.

Not enough active participation (1)

cnewman (160567) | about 3 months ago | (#46747437)

The biggest IETF problem I see is not enough active participation. Specifically, engineers who want the work to complete and are editing specifications, commenting based on their implementations or running working groups efficiently. Ever since the dot-com bubble burst there haven't been enough people doing that from either academic or corporate origins. Good engineers can come from either source, but unless enough engineers have the time to actually work to produce standards, the standards won't happen.

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