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The Internet

Why the IETF Isn't Working 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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Why the IETF Isn't Working

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  • Corporatization (Score:5, Insightful)

    by justaguy516 ( 712036 ) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @05:25AM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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 (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Sun ( 104778 ) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @06:51AM (#46739039) Homepage

        No work will be done.

        As opposed to... ?


      • No shit (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @07:00AM (#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 (Score:5, Insightful)

          by lars_stefan_axelsson ( 236283 ) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @10:56AM (#46739857) Homepage

          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.

          • 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.

            • 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 playe

              • 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.

                • 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 th

        • 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 (Score:5, Interesting)

          by bcboy ( 4794 ) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @01:22PM (#46740823) Homepage

          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.

        • Re:No shit (Score:4, Insightful)

          by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @02:24PM (#46741271) Journal

          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 (Score:5, Informative)

        by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @07:53AM (#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 (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 13, 2014 @08:32AM (#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 [effi.org] 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 [groklaw.net]. 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 (Score:4, Insightful)

          by skids ( 119237 ) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @11:17AM (#46739949) Homepage

          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.

      • 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 no

    • 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.
    • 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".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 13, 2014 @05:29AM (#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!"

    • by Anonymous Coward

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

  • by Anonymous Coward

    [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: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by amiga3D ( 567632 )

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

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 13, 2014 @06:14AM (#46738967)
        depends what side of the pond your on... though Palin always struck me as more retarded than constructively evil.
        • by znrt ( 2424692 )

          just optimized for a different audience.

        • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

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

          • 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

        • 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.

          • by gmhowell ( 26755 )

            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"?

      • by colfer ( 619105 )

        Narayanan is agreeing with Thatcher by the way.

      • I thought the GP was being sarcastic
  • by Anonymous Coward

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

  • by Anonymous Coward

    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

  • 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.
  • by puddingebola ( 2036796 ) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @08:04AM (#46739205) Journal
    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.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @08:12AM (#46739215) Journal
    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.

    • Yes, we've known this since Adam Smith and yet somehow it still works better than any other system tried. What's your point?
      • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @09:59AM (#46739589) Journal
        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.

        • Points well made. Thanks.

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        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.

    • by RR ( 64484 ) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @10:38AM (#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? [ted.com]

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

      Sasha Breger: How Commodities Hoarding Distorts Food Prices [nakedcapitalism.com]

      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.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    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

    • by jonwil ( 467024 )

      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.

  • by Junta ( 36770 ) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @09:06AM (#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.

    • by hax4bux ( 209237 )

      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 th

  • by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @10:08AM (#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.

    • 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.

      • 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?

  • 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.
  • 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.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    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

  • 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.

  • by markhahn ( 122033 ) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @02:48PM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    '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.

    • 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.

    • 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.
  • 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 act
    • 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

  • 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.

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.