[e2e] end of interest

John Day day at std.com
Sun Apr 20 19:52:11 PDT 2008

At 10:56 -0400 2008/04/20, Noel Chiappa wrote:
>     > From: John Day <day at std.com>
>     > Well this wasn't suppose to be a screed, but it seems to have turned
>     > into one! Ooops.
>Nah, good stuff.

Thank you.

>However, as someone who is fairly dedicated to the concept of "look for
>fundamentals, the invariants and be damned where it led", and who has also
>tried to get some of that thinking into the network, let me offer you a
>couple of decades worth of perspective from that particular seat.

I was making a different point.  There is a difference between doing 
networking research and doing work engineering the Internet.  Today 
there seems to be only engineering the Internet, not much if any 
research on networking.  There are many kinds internet-like networks 
possible.  The Internet is just the one we kludged up some years back.

We need to have some idea of the "answer" is regardless of whether 
the Internet ever reaches it.  To do otherwise is, in effect, 
wandering lost in the woods.  And as everyone knows, if you are lost 
in the woods, it is better to stay put and let rescuers come to you. 
It is very unlikely that you will FIND your way out.

>It's damned hard.
>There are in fact pretty good reasons for this. The old line about "updating
>the Wright flyer into a 747 - while it's flying" captures a lot of it.

One historical note of slight relevance:  the methods of the Wright 
flyer do not serve as a basis for the 747, as much as the Curtiss 
flyer does.

>An unfinished note of mine (is there any other kind? :-) captures a slightly
>different take on it, which is that communication networks have a property
>which is not shared by editors, operating systems, etc, etc. That is that if
>you come up with the world's greatest new editor, if you get a few people to
>adopt it, they will love it, and more will join in, so eventually you get to,
>say, 2% market share, and that works just fine. Invent a new communication
>system, and get 2% of the market to use it, and ... very shortly you will
>have 0%. The reason is obvious: the point of communication systems is to
>communicate, and if you limit yourself to a small group of potential
>communicatees, your communication system doesn't have lot of perceived/actual
>value. A plain telephone that can reach everyone is a heck of a lot more
>valuable than a videophone that can reach 17 people.
>Which dumps us back into the Wright-flyer -> 747 problem ... which is not an
>easy one. Electric outlet sockets, light-bulb sockets, etc look much the same
>as they did a century ago - because interoperability with installed base is
>giant millstone.

All of these examples represent an end.  I for one do not believe we 
are anywhere near such an end.  We haven't even begun to explore 
truly distributed systems, regardless of that the poor peer-to-peer 
[sic] advocates may think.  The current architecture makes it very 
difficult to even contemplate such applications.  There is much more 
that can be done, once we get around this particular millstone.

>However, all is not lost.
>I think for a long time there have been understandable and rational reasons
>people were content to build more fabric wing. To start with, as the network
>grew, people were so ass-deep in alligators they couldn't take the time to do
>anything but build more fabric wing as fast as the sewing machines could crank
>it out. Then we went through a deep cutback where there wasn't any money to do
>anything anyway.

The engineers were, but they weren't the ones who should have been 
clearing brush.  There were lots of people working on this and not 
everyone had to be ass-deep in alligators.  We have known what the 
fundamental issues were for 30 years.  But 2nd generation effect took 

The funny thing is that most of what needed to be done required 
little, if any, money.  It did require some hard thinking, but of 
course spending money to build things is always more fun than hard 

>However, I think that as the field has matured, and people have enough
>personal history in it to internalize some of these points, there is an
>increasing understanding out there of some of the things you're talking about,
>     > We take a 30 year old demo, patch and patch it, relying on Moore's Law
>     > to save us from the hard problems.
>     > ...
>     > Sure there was some solid engineering and with Moore's Law we have
>     > built something that the world has found amazing.
>     > ...
>     > What have we done to consolidate, make it simpler? Get at the
>     > fundamentals. Ensure this thing is on a solid footing now that the
>     > world relies on it.
>And, moreover, I think (or perhaps this is just a hope that my desire is
>turning into a perception) that there's a growing appreciation of the
>*long-term value* of spending a little more resources now, to build something
>(and I'm talking about architecture here, not hardware) that has a little
>more flexibility and capability - and hence *durability*.

Frankly, until there is a group of people who see the Internet as we 
saw the phone company it won't happen.  Too many people are too 
worried about protecting their legacy than furthering the 
understanding.  To much calling for a revolution as long as you don't 
change what they did.  (Some revolution.)  Until they really see the 
fundamental flaws that are holding them back, it won't happen.  (In 
fact it doesn't speak well for them that they haven't seen them 
already.  They are so blatant!)

>Of course, we still have to make the numbers add up (both $ and engineering),
>but I think there's more interest now in 'doing the right thing'. Enough more
>to make it happen? Well, we'll see. But for those who are interested, I have
>a nice shiny-new metal wing concept for you....

Which is?

>     > The problem has been with academic research that seems to have gotten
>     > the idea that university research is low risk angel funding .. Guys, it
>     > is time that some of got back to doing real research, not just hot
>     > topics.
>Indeed. Some of the research I read about sure seems a lot like "how to build
>a better fabric wing with the latest hot-glue technology".

Yea, I am afraid there needs to be lessons in how to clean a slate. 
;-)  They sure are coming out with a lot of dust on them.

Take care,
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