[e2e] Time for a new Internet Protocol

Tom Vest tvest at pch.net
Mon May 21 18:09:28 PDT 2007

Being a big fan and frequent user/abuser of the tussle concept, let  
me be the first person to observe some obvious problems that follow  
from using it as a normative principle:

1.  Although the concept of tussle is inherently recursive, it's  
typically only used (e.g., by network architects and systems theory  
people) to discuss the upper elements of the protocol/service stack.  
Too often people forget, or maybe fail to notice, that the Internet  
itself only exists in its "current canonical form" in places when &  
where a prior/foundational tussle over control of communications  
facilities/infrastructure inputs resulted in certain sorts of  
outcomes. In places where all or almost of the interfaces are hidden/ 
controlled by a single monolithic entity (e.g., like hierarchical/ 
horizontal infrastructure segments within a territorial monopoly  
PSTN), tussle may still exist, but it has approximately zero impact/ 
significance to outsiders.

2. As soon as "tusslers" become aware of the idea, they tend to  
incorporate it, rhetorically if not operationally, into their future  
actions. Granting that I am no game theory expert (and would love to  
hear a better informed comparison here), this seems like just another  
example of an iterative bargaining game, ala the Prisoner's Dilemma.  
An appeal to the reasonableness of a "tussle-friendly outcome" is  
just as likely as not to be a gambit to "win" a larger piece of the  
pie... unless maybe the appeal is coming from someone you already  
trust for some unrelated reason.

Bottom line: tussle provides a great descriptive framework for  
understanding how, when, and why things change (or don't change), and  
would be a fine architectural guide for a monolithic Supreme Being  
who has prior knowledge of "what good would be good" to select as the  
criteria for winning in any particular tussle instance -- but as soon  
as you have two Semi-Supreme Beings they end up stuck in the same  
bargaining game described so crudely above...

Regards all,


On May 21, 2007, at 7:10 PM, Bob Briscoe wrote:

> David,
> Going back to your opening posting in this thread...
> At 15:57 15/05/2007, David P. Reed wrote:
>> I call for others to join me in constructing the next Internet,  
>> not as an extension of the current Internet, because that Internet  
>> is corrupted by people who do not value innovation, connectivity,  
>> and the ability to absorb new ideas from the user community.
> So, how do we make an Internet that can evolve to meet all sorts of  
> future social and economic desires, except it mustn't evolve away  
> from David Reed's original desires for it, and it mustn't evolve  
> towards the desires of those who invest in it? Tough design brief :)
> My sarcasm is only intended to prevent you wasting a lot of years  
> of your life on this project, without questioning whether the  
> problem is with your aspirations, not with the Internet...
> Perhaps it would help _not_ to think of suppression of innovation  
> as a failure. Innovation isn't an end in itself. People don't want  
> innovation to the exclusion of all else. People want a balance  
> between innovative new stuff and uninterrupted, cheap, robust,  
> hassle-free enjoyment of previous innovations.
> Surely the real requirement is for a distributed computing  
> internetwork that can be temporarily or locally closed to milk the  
> fruits of an innovation without having to be permanently and  
> ubiquitously closed. That is, locally open or locally closed by  
> policy control. That's a heroic research challenge in its own right  
> - and not impossible - here's some case studies that have  
> (sometimes unconsciously) achieved this:
> <http://www.cs.ucl.ac.uk/staff/B.Briscoe/present.html#0406pgnet>
> A desire to embed _only_ openness into the architecture to the  
> exclusion of thinking how to do closedness is the problem, not the  
> solution. So, I for one won't be joining you in this venture, even  
> though my initial reflex action would be (and always was) openness.  
> I'd ask you to reconsider too.
> If you disagree with this 'Tussle in Cyberspace' argument, I think  
> you ought to say why, as I've not heard a good argument against it.
>> To save argument, I am not arguing that the IP layer could not  
>> evolve.
>> I am arguing that the current research community and industry  
>> community that support the IP layer *will not* allow it to evolve.
> You don't need to start out deciding that, whatever the solution,  
> it won't be an evolution from where we are. That doesn't need to be  
> decided until you know what the solution might look like.
>> But that need not matter.   If necessary, we can do this  
>> inefficiently, creating a new class of routers that sit at the  
>> edge of the IP network and sit in end user sites.   We can encrypt  
>> the traffic, so that the IP monopoly (analogous to the ATT  
>> monopoly) cannot tell what our layer is doing, and we can use  
>> protocols that are more aggressively defensive since the IP layer  
>> has indeed gotten very aggressive in blocking traffic and  
>> attempting to prevent user-to-user connectivity.
> If this is what you want you don't need a new Internet. You already  
> have the power to encrypt and the power to be aggressively  
> defensive with the current Internet (as your TOR and Joost examples  
> demonstrate).
> You want to use the infrastructure those nasty routerheads have  
> invested in, presumably to benefit from the network effect their  
> investments (and your previous inventiveness) helped to create. And  
> if they try to stop you, are they not justified? What is the  
> difference then between your traffic and an attack - from /their/  
> point of view?
> Or are you claiming a higher moral right to abuse the policies they  
> impose on their networks because you have honourable intentions,  
> in /your/ opinion? Universal connectivity isn't a human right that  
> trumps their policies. It's just something you (& I) care about a  
> lot. Isn't this getting close to an analogy with animal rights  
> activists conspiring to kill vivisectionists.
> Reversing this, what if someone launches a DoS attack against an  
> unforeseen vulnerability in your new Internet? Would your  
> architecture never allow it to be blocked, because that would  
> damage universal connectivity?
> I think you need to take a step back and reconsider the aspersions  
> you're casting on routerheads. They understand the value of  
> universal connectivity too. But they also understand the higher  
> value of some connectivities than others. Given the tools they have  
> at their disposal right now, the best they can do is block some  
> stuff to keep other stuff going. It's as much the fault of you and  
> me that they have no other option, as it is their fault for  
> blocking stuff.
> You are blaming operators for acting in their own self-interest.  
> Shouldn't you blame the designers of the architecture for not  
> expecting operators to act in their own interests? Again, what is  
> your argument against 'Tussle  in Cyberspace'?
> Bob

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