Re: IETF Administrative Reorganization: What was that problem anyway?

John C Klensin <> Wed, 15 September 2004 17:51 UTC

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Date: Wed, 15 Sep 2004 13:27:17 -0400
From: John C Klensin <>
To: Carl Malamud <>
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Subject: Re: IETF Administrative Reorganization: What was that problem anyway?
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--On Wednesday, 15 September, 2004 06:59 -0700 Carl Malamud
<> wrote:

> John -
> Would it be fair to summarize your note by saying it is a
> lightweight scenario A?  E.g., simply take one action: hire
> an administrative director for the IETF and have that person
> live at ISOC.  RFPs, budgets, etc... will all flow out of that 
> initital action and there is no need for a grand restructuring.
> Let me know if you think that is a fair assessment.  I think
> that is an important option that people should keep in mind
> and wanted to make sure that I don't oversimplify your
> analysis.

Actually, no, for two reasons.  The important one is that the
main point of my note is to describe some real concerns about
what we are doing here and why, what the priorities are, whether
we have lot sight of the real issues, and so on.  Characterizing
it in terms of any particular solution or scenario misses the
whole point.    

Actually, while I'm sure you didn't intend it that way, your
summary is reminiscent of the notorious debating tactic of
ignoring all of the main points of an argument, seizing on a
minor detail that can easily be misinterpreted (if necessary)
and then attacked, and thereby distracting the audience from
those main points.

In terms of actual proposals, I quite deliberately did not
include one, not because I wanted to start people guessing, but
because I think a review and discussion of problems, goals, and
principles here would be much more useful than plunging deeper
into "scenarios", if only to give us a stronger basis for
evaluating whether a given proposed solution would solve an
identifiable problem at acceptable cost and risk.

If "the community" can have that discussion in a serious way,
then I'll post that other proposal.   If we can't, then the only
way I see any of this moving forward is by an assertion of
imperial authority and, to be very blunt, I don't need to spend
my time on an IETF that has to make decisions by imperial
authority or that permits it to be done.  And IETF like that is,
IMO, already dead, regardless of what mechanisms or monuments it
erects administratively.

However, fwiw, I think the sort of "lightweight scenario A" you
describe and somehow inferred from my note would be a mistake.
It brings to mind an old cartoon that I assume you and many
members of the community have seen in some variation: complex
equations at the top, complex equations at the bottom, in
between is the phrase "and then a miracle happens".  The dots
really do need to be connected, and hiring someone, with more or
less the right skills, under a more or less adequate job
description and with no definition of how that person is
supervised, given direction, etc., and then expecting "RFPs,
budgets, etc... will all flow out..." requires a miracle for the
intervening steps.

If one were to believes in miracles, they should probably be
saved for more important and intractable problems.


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