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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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  • 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: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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 13, 2014 @09:01AM (#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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

It's fabulous! We haven't seen anything like it in the last half an hour! -- Macy's