[e2e] Protocols breaking the end-to-end argument

Richard Bennett richard at bennett.com
Tue Oct 27 14:27:31 PDT 2009

Seems to me that the real hippies were pretty much libertarians who 
didn't trust The Man's Government any more than The Man's Corporations. 
Internet Research circles are interesting, in that they consist of 
people taking money from The Man's War Machine to spread peace, love, 
and understanding, which may be the best form of national defense anyhow.

And in plain engineering circles, there seems to be a divide between 
libertarians who don't trust authority period and socialists who view 
society as a machine to be optimized and markets as too messy an 
inefficient for the purpose. Of course, socialism is inconsistent with 
net neutrality in principle, but nobody really understands that.

In the course of reading the 1984 version of E2E Args, I was struck by 
the mention of RISC. It's interesting because back in the 1970s and 80s, 
there was this general train of thought about building reliable, high 
quality systems on cheap and plentiful unreliable parts. It was 
interesting because it seemed to resolve the "good, fast, cheap: pick 
any two" dilemma that I used to see above programmers' desks from about 
1980 on. RAID, RISC, datagrams, old-fashioned  CSMA/CD Ethernet, and 
massively parallel microprocessor-based supercomputers were all 
explorations of that idea, which worked out well in some contexts and 
less well in others. RISC was a bust, for example, and while datagrams 
are good for content-oriented network applications, they're obviously 
less good for real-time network apps, and Ethernet only became dominant 
when we dumped CSMA/CD for the collision-free, flow controlled, full 
duplex switches that we use today. So why is it that you can build a 
nice system using crappy parts in some cases and not in others?

Perhaps the constraint is time, and these systems didn't get all three 
of "good, fast, cheap" but only good and cheap. If that's the case, it 
places a boundary on how far you can go with an E2E model in large-scale 
networks. People want to use the Internet as more than a content network 
these days, because interpersonal communication is the real killer app 
for networking, and that takes QoS, and you can't do QoS E2E.

Public policy needs to be constrained by engineering, as Noel said, but 
the engineering needs to be good, not ideological.


Jon Crowcroft wrote:
> I may fall down on relevance
> (c.f. Deirdre Wilson & Dan Sperberr Relevance Theory, 1985)
> but I think I am going to have to refer you to youtube:
> 	http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SNHtKfDxlg
> but anyhow, I suspect I am just as suspect as you
> for what its worth...
> this has to be set against the rabid free market libertarianism
> fairly common in Internet Research circles from 1992 until the present
> day, which is also extremely unrepresentative of the world...
> In missive <4AE6F673.8080807 at reed.com>, "David P. Reed" typed:
>  >>Is it the "aging" part or the "hippie" part that makes a person suspect?
>  >>I could give you a list of labels that have been applied to me, in 
>  >>discussions of network technology, to conjure with as you like:
>  >>
>  >>corporate-type, libertarian, communist, hippie, net-nutter, past-it, 
>  >>ivory-tower, propellerhead, mere engineer, non-economist, naive, 
>  >>fuzzy-minded, ...
>  >>
>  >>I personally don't think such labels make a whit of difference.
>  >>
>  >>In fact, I am a member of AAAS, AARP, ACLU, ACM, and that's only the 
>  >>first four A's on the list of memberships.  Does that make a difference?
>  >>
>  >>It turns out that one of my ancestors (John Reed) arrived in Rhode 
>  >>Island in 1615, and another came to the US on Ellis Island.  One of my 
>  >>ancestors was at the battle of Lexington and Concord, and another was a 
>  >>Gibson Girl on 42nd street, having immigrated into the country.  My 
>  >>father can be seen in documentary footage shot on the USS Missouri 
>  >>during the Korean Conflict, and was in charge of designing many of the 
>  >>modern US Navy ships now in service.
>  >>
>  >>Do those things make a difference?
>  >>
>  >>I guess the fellow who is responsible for WiFi and UWB knows how to 
>  >>judge ideas by the person's lifestyle.
>  >>
>  >>And by the way, I'm neither aging (I'm 57, and can beat most people in 
>  >>arm-wrestling, if nothing else), nor a classic "hippie" (my views in 
>  >>those days tended toward a very different direction  - a mixture of 
>  >>systems design, AI, and math, mixed with stopping the Vietnam War and 
>  >>creating a free market of ideas).
>  >>
>  >>But so what if I were?
>  cheers
>    jon

Richard Bennett
Research Fellow
Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
Washington, DC

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