[e2e] Open the floodgate
cannara at attglobal.net
Wed Apr 21 23:29:39 PDT 2004
Interesting that referrals to the poor security or performance designed into
the Internet by choice or omission leads to raising Il Duce (Mussolini) from
the dead. So we just ignore the fantastic volume of undesired traffic on the
Internet because we're afraid of Mussolini-like discipline? Being of Italian
descent, I recall relatives wanting to hang him, because he was a cheap
crackpot with a mistress, not quite the capable fellow you raise. When we
talk personal discipline, let's think more on folks like Michelangelo,
Puccini, Da Vinci, etc., even on some non-Italians, who actually contributed
something many of us value.
And: "...slavish adherence to discipline can easily lead to failure". So
undisciplined design doesn't? Let's hope that you don't ever have to lie in a
misadjusted body scanner, or depend on a surgeon who takes a break to deposit
a paycheck. Successful folks are quite disciplined in how they proceed,
though you may choose not to see it that way. You need look no further than
NASA to see tragic results when disciplines are ignored.
The Internet's development has ignored many previously valued disciplines from
its start, like secure access and intelligent transport, but all these points
are in the archives, for this list at least. They've all been raised as
sincere technical points that, in fact, have relatively easily testable
implementations. Yet, you fly off into: '...has enabled a wide variety of
unanticipated innovations to emerge - most of which would not have emerged
from any "disciplined" process of the extreme sort that optimizes for the past
while marching backwards into the future.' So the IETF developed the World
Wide Web (along with Al Gore)? Not quite. The IEEE does a pretty good job
What does that impressive verbiage have to do with the fact that TCP has been
left ignorant of whether a packet was lost due to congestion or error? Is
"slavish discipline" the reason that 20 years after TCP was kludged to do
network congestion control, we still have an Internet transport that sees
'congestion' at every packet loss? What does your rant against evil
discipline have to do with the painfully slow and often misdirected
'improvements' to IP addressing and such, as committed in IPv6, or the
mediocrity of IPSEC?
You aren't alone in being able to speak as an engineer and university
instructor, for whatever points that's worth, David. But, the way The
Internet works, and doesn't work, speaks volumes about the casual approach to
its development and maintenance. That's one point here. Another point is
that reactions like yours serve a classic bureaucratic purpose -- maintain the
status quo by intimidating critics. Ah, now is that why Mussolini is a
reference you identify with? :]
"David P. Reed" wrote:
> At 01:44 PM 4/21/2004, Cannara wrote:
> >So, nowadays, the lack of systems-management discipline in The Internet leaves
> >us with few options.
> This language is quite interesting. To readers of George Lakoff, like
> myself, it's clear that the unexamined assumption is that "discipline" is
> inherently good. A world with strict rules, a stern "father", etc.
> eliminates the possibility of chaos, replacing it with a utopia where every
> engineer is given a spec, and delivers precise implementations, or every
> design is based on thorough knowledge of the operating regime of the target
> system, so it cannot fail - the only possibility is that the specification
> doesn't match the inputs.
> Mussolini impressed the British and Americans with his delivery of
> discipline (making the trains run on time) to the world. There is no
> dispute that he was disciplined and professional. The problem was that he
> idealized the wrong state of the world as the most desirable.
> Given a choice between discipline of design and usefulness it's clear that
> the latter is more important. The former is merely a tool, not a
> goal. As such, the limits to the utility of discipline need to be understood.
> A slavish adherence to discipline can easily lead to failure - and often
> does. The most disciplined and beautiful technical project in memory is
> the Iridium satellite network. They delivered a ten-year, billion dollar
> project, to spec and on time. Every technical requirement was met, and
> wonderful breakthrough invention was completed on time. But anyone
> looking at the project from the outside in the bigger picture can see that
> it was an incredibly costly failure *of engineering*. Could it have been
> different? Why yes - during the 10 years of its development there were
> many times when its design could have been adapted to incorporate new
> information about customer needs and requirements, about competitive
> alternative solutions, etc. A less disciplined approach might have
> avoided marching that brilliant army in perfect formation off of a cliff -
> or even as the first part of the army marched off of the cliff, the rest
> could have decided to save the bulk of the investment by turning away and
> redeploying their resources against any number of alternative objectives.
> In contrast, the Internet continues to be successful, continues to adapt to
> new requirements, and continues to incorporate massive sets of innovations.
> Anyone who teaches engineering as if the only thing that matters is
> discipline is not teaching engineering. Engineering as a profession is
> not only about predictable delivery of a well-specified solution on
> time. That is what a bricklayer or carpenter or contract programmer
> does. It's a skill or a craft - the mastery of a tool. But craft
> discipline is not engineering anymore than playing the precise notes
> written on a piece of paper precisely on the beat is performing music.
> Sure, it's always important to pay attention to discipline. But the
> Internet seems to have sustained an appropriately effective level of
> discipline in its development - certainly adequate to the task, while also
> sustaining a crucially important level of exploratory and experimental
> development that has enabled a wide variety of unanticipated innovations to
> emerge - most of which would not have emerged from any "disciplined"
> process of the extreme sort that optimizes for the past while marching
> backwards into the future.
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