[e2e] Port numbers, SRV records or...?

John Day day at std.com
Wed Aug 16 21:18:07 PDT 2006

At 23:20 -0400 2006/08/16, David P. Reed wrote:
>Greg Skinner wrote:
>>Sometimes I think that computer networking lacks the luster of other
>>areas of computer science.  It has its hardcore contributors (such as
>>people who participate on this list), but the vast majority of people
>>gravitate towards other areas, either out of necessity (money), or
>>because they find the work more
>>interesting/challenging/rewarding. You'll find no end of people who
>>want to do information retrieval, or data mining, because they want to
>>work for Google or some other search engine.  Are these the types of
>>people the computer networking industry and research community need to
>>create the next generation Internet?  What would compel them to do so?
>>I don't know either.
>I don't get this.   You honestly think those of us who got into 
>networking in the 1960's and 1970's did it for the luster and money?

I don't think it meant it that way at all.  I took Greg to mean the 
luster of the intellectual challenge.  Not really the potential for 
money, although that does seem to drive a lot of people today.

My experience is that you only find that sort of success when you 
don't go looking for it.

>There was no money in it, none of us had dreams of being rich that I 
>know of.   Most of the folks a couple of years older than me were in 
>grad school  because they liked playing with computers and gave them 
>a draft deferment on top of that.  And my generation didn't get 
>draft deferments, but we still loved playing with computers (which 
>we couldn't afford to do because there were no microprocessors and 
>no PCs). I could go on - but networking has never been about making 
>lots of money for its inventors (though some were lucky to get hired 
>into companies like Worldcom and Cisco, almost by accident).
>Besides that, most of the people I knew in networking and PCs were 
>primarily motivated by making people's lives better through better 
>communications and better man-machine-symbiosis.   That was what you 
>heard from Licklider, Roberts, Taylor, Kahn, Cerf, Kirstein, Pouzin, 
>Farber, Kleinrock, ... and many, many others in the network arena, 
>and also for all of the AI, PC, CHI, etc folks.   If you knew Jon 
>Postel, you know it was about mankind for him.

Well, it was all of that and a helluva lot of fun as well. ;-)  I 
remember Louis and Danthine referring to the "Network Traveling 
Circus" around 75.  The intellectual challenge, that we were working 
out the deeper structure of the problem and the idea that we were 
doing something that would change the world. When people ask me if we 
expected the 'Net to turn out the way it has, I give them a very 
emphatic YES. Then I tell them I/we didn't know what form it would 
precisely take or how it was going to change the world but we always 
knew it would.

>That motivation is still there for anyone who finds it inspiring, 
>and many still do.
>But why *should* anyone care about a "next Internet" defined as just 
>another packet network architecture that does the same thing in a 
>new way?   The grand vision of the Internet was written down by 
>Licklider and Taylor in 1967  or so in what became a Scientific 
>American article that all should read.   The challenge is to create 
>as profound a vision (one that will guide people for 30+ years), and 
>if you read that article, it was not about "computer networking" it 
>was about human potential.   That level of vision will be "the next 
>Internet" in a purely metaphorical sense - but it won't be about the 
>same aspects of people and machines, I'm sure.
>The problem arises because some in academia want "computer 
>networking" to be a discipline, just as some want "computer science" 
>to be a discipline.   Disciplines are for the Divinity School to 
>There's no special discipline for *computer* networking, or even for 
>networking.  There are just systems that get designed according to 
>principles that are hard won and oft debated by folks who care to 
>make things work and to make them work better and apply them to more 
>and more important and meaningful things.

I don't know about disciplines.  Disciplines are for technicians. 
Networking should be a science and it isn't.  Not even close.  A 
scientist is only a success when he proves a theory wrong.  We should 
be constantly pushing at the edges, trying to prove everything we 
ever believed wrong or at least gaining a better understanding of 
what it is.  Networking has not been doing that for 25 years.

Why are the academics intent on creating technicians and not 
scientists?  I have yet to find a single university level networking 
textbook.  They are all vocational-ed.  They regurgitate what is 
popular or common now. (Has anyone pricked the P2P bubble? No they 
just gush.) No one teaches what are the principles from which one 
could derive a network.  This isn't how I was taught EE.  We weren't 
taught how the common amplifiers or radios were built by the major 
companies.  We were taught the principles by which we could do it 

>The idea that "data mining" could be thought to be in the same 
>category as creating communications systems in that grand and 
>interdisciplinary sense just suggests to me the poverty of thinking 
>that pervades what used to be a great country like America.
>Don't worry, this poverty of thinking has diminished DARPA and most 
>of the rest of the government research establishment today.  (there 
>are petty "crimes" in the way DARPA is run, but the biggest "crime" 
>is that it has substituted for conceptual vision a notion that you 
>can get creativity by running contests against a set of rules and 
>requirements).  Those who "dance" listlessly to that tune also seem 
>to think that being quoted in Wired magazine defines their technical 
>worthiness, or that thoughts by blogging pundits written in an orgy 
>of self-absorption represent profundity.

Totally agree.  I wrote an essay a few years back when I noticed that 
this behavior of funding agencies looking for quick ROI was 
generating lots of technique and not much depth of knowledge.  This 
is the same phenomena (for different reasons) that lead to the 
stagnation of Chinese science by the 16th Century and it is having 
the same effect today.

>Follow a path with a heart - one that you and others resonate with. 
>Stop looking to find external validation and "incentives" that will 
>win you praise or make you rich.   Do what you can honestly say is 
>worth the effort.

Totally agree.

Take care,

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