Re: [Gendispatch] Academia (Re: Diversity and Inclusiveness in the IETF)

Wes Hardaker <> Fri, 05 March 2021 14:12 UTC

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From: Wes Hardaker <>
To: Phillip Hallam-Baker <>
Cc: John Wroclawski <>, "" <>, GENDISPATCH List <>, Keith Moore <>
References: <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <>
Date: Fri, 05 Mar 2021 06:12:44 -0800
In-Reply-To: <> (Phillip Hallam-Baker's message of "Tue, 2 Mar 2021 17:21:13 -0500")
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Subject: Re: [Gendispatch] Academia (Re: Diversity and Inclusiveness in the IETF)
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Phillip Hallam-Baker <> writes:

> The way to fix Academia is to look at the funding structures that support it.
> So the way to fix the problem is to fix Academia.

You highlight the problem well that there are multiple confounding
issues that all mingle together.

(Most) RFCs are typically harder to get published than academic
papers.  They take multiple years to get published and require extensive
negotiations with many parties.  This leads to:

1) Its not really a viable goal for students to take on, since they're
likely to graduate before the completion of the publication effort.  Nor
can you ensure consensus, and isn't easy "fallback publication venues" if
you fail the IETF as the tier-1 to publish in.

2) That leaves staff and faculty to do the work, which means funding
agencies must understand both the long term commitment required (2-3
years beyond the point of the solution being initially documented) and
the cost required (its not the travel cost -- its the labor required for
said negotiations).  Then there is the "running code" cost, that will
likely keep changing as the eventually-to-be-standard keeps changing
underneath the code.

When I've discussed contracting with funding sources before for research
work, and explained situation #2 I've often given them two quotes: one
just to do the work and a second that included a standardization-effort
cost that wasn't even assured.  Many organizations saw the second and
understandably didn't take that option.

And then, yes, you're right that academia must change as well.  Back in
early days the IETF was seen as a place to do research.  Now its seen as
a place to do "real stuff" and many opinions exist that its "not
researchy enough to warrant our participation".

So, yes, I agree: both funding and academia itself needs to change in
order to bring them back in full force (we have light participation now,
but nothing like we had in the past).  The IRTF has greatly helped
improve things lately, IMHO and fortunately.

Wes Hardaker