Re: [apps-discuss] IETF technical plenary: the end of application protocols

Peter Saint-Andre <stpeter@stpeter.im> Thu, 24 March 2011 03:08 UTC

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Date: Wed, 23 Mar 2011 21:09:48 -0600
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Cc: Pete Resnick <presnick@qualcomm.com>, Apps Discuss <apps-discuss@ietf.org>
Subject: Re: [apps-discuss] IETF technical plenary: the end of application protocols
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On 3/22/11 7:41 AM, Scott Brim wrote:
> Pete: Yes, amusing.  I want to digress on one thing you said ...
> 
> On Mon, Mar 21, 2011 at 23:48, Pete Resnick <presnick@qualcomm.com> wrote:
>> There are two obvious drivers of this evolution: First and foremost is the
>> continuing lack of end-to-end connectivity in the network. This is due to
>> the presence of NATs and assorted firewall nonsense that makes non-tunneled
>> applications harder and harder to deploy. But the second driving force is
>> the more insidious one: economics. The economics of the Internet are
>> currently being driven by big players consolidating the network, pushing as
>> much as they can into servers so that they can control both the data and the
>> user experience for applications on the Internet. This of course is not in
>> the interest of end users, except insofar as the "big players" are end users
>> with large economic interests. The more centralized the data becomes, the
>> more dependent users are on the "big players", the less innovation in
>> applications can take place, and the less stable the Internet is as a whole.
> 
> I think the causality is turned around several times in these sentences.
> 
> First, NATs did not force people into client-server mode.  If people
> had had a strong desire for end-to-end transparency, we would have
> more of it.  NATs started appearing and they didn't cut off anything
> people saw as vital.  Some apps (e.g. FTP and Skype) adapted.  It is
> now hard to preserve peer-to-peer, and get away from client-server,
> partly because of NATs but mainly because the vast majority of people
> find client-server to be convenient.  They like services.  If there
> was more demand for transparency you would see more of it.
> 
> Second, yes economics, and yes the big boys are pushing to control
> more, but that doesn't mean it is not in the interest of end users.
> They like services.

Scott, I think there is a great deal of truth in what you say. The big
services have become big in large measure because most people seem to
prefer identifiable services. Perhaps it's the herd instinct or the
human inability to hold too many things in mind at once or the
simplicity of signing up for something and letting someone else handle
the details. Whatever the reason, most people don't want to run their
own services -- it's much easier to visit a website, and tell people
that you're "on", a popular email or IM or blogging or microblogging or
voice or video service than it is to install and maintain postfix or
Prosody or WordPress or laconica or Asterisk or Yate on the server side
plus Thunderbird or Pidgin or Jitsi (etc.) on the client side (let alone
the whole stack of OS and DNS and databases and registered domains and
certificates and all the rest).

So yes, services are easy and popular with end users. As a result, the
companies that offer those services often become large and even dominant
on the 'net. At that point some of the dynamics that Pete mentioned come
into play, but I don't think they are the root cause.

Peter

-- 
Peter Saint-Andre
https://stpeter.im/