Re: Observations on (non-technical) changes affecting IETF operations

Jari Arkko <> Sun, 06 March 2016 16:58 UTC

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Subject: Re: Observations on (non-technical) changes affecting IETF operations
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From: Jari Arkko <>
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Date: Sun, 06 Mar 2016 16:58:19 +0000
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> Very interesting write up. IMHO, the hardest challenge facing IETF is that "Internet has been working over several decades".
> All the obvious technologies needed to enable Internet have been developed already. All that left are tweaks and minor improvement.

I think it is a good point — I like to think of this as enabling truly “permissionless innovation” where there’s such a good technology platform that little need for permissions or standards are needed. The web for instance is very close to such a model.

Yet, I would like to disagree with the “tweaks and minor improvement” part.

It was never the intent that all apps or application protocols be developed at the IETF. The number of applications and new forms of communication running over the Internet has multiple probably by millionfold since the beginning of the Internet. It is a *good thing* that the work and the technology scaled to allow this.

Even if it meant that we are done and can go home, it would be a very worthwhile thing to do develop a platform that enables other people to build everything they need.

But, I don’t think we’re seeing that all development stops. It has changed, sure. And there’s a natural slowing in the rate of adaption. Long tails and all that. However, from my perspective there are some pretty big things in the works and big problems that people should solve, for instance:

* rapid re-design of the web protocol stack (H2, QUIC, maybe COAP etc)
* real-time communications on your browser
* privacy in the Internet
* security in the Internet of Things

Perspectives differ, and I realise some people could call these minor tweaks. But the point is, the industry and users seem to need new technology. The world isn’t ready.

> We all know that the future belongs to the App & services. But people from those emerging App & services companies are way under represented in IETF.

Yes, and that is a problem (IMHO).

> Maybe more Heckathons effort should be invested into attracting Apps & Services companies to utilize the work developed by IETF, …

I think that is something that we should look into. We’ve had some discussions of taking the Hackathons elsewhere (outside the IETF) as a forum for building things on top of the IETF technology. We haven’t done that yet, but if we wanted to reach more applications people, that would be one way of doing it.