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

George Michaelson <ggm@algebras.org> Tue, 22 March 2016 01:51 UTC

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Date: Tue, 22 Mar 2016 11:50:48 +1000
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Subject: Re: Observations on (non-technical) changes affecting IETF operations
From: George Michaelson <ggm@algebras.org>
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The concrete counter-instantiation of why new groups might need to be
spun up to reconsider old problems, might be the textual

  Subject: why your proposal to fix spam will fail [check applicable]

message, with a list of instances of:

  [x] "because we tried this before and it failed"
  [x] "because it cannot scale"
  [x] "because all known algorithms which satisfy your condition are infeasible"

reasons.

Basically, its a variant of the appeal to authority: prior experience
in the IETF is not always a good indicator of future experience,
because O(hard) problems are a function of both algorithms and Moore's
law, and are subject to change.

Obviously, where the message retains its authority, unappealling or
otherwise, is the implicit:

  [x] "because we don't like this class of solution and it has no
chance of getting adopted"

In this list (regarding SPAM but more generally)

On Tue, Mar 22, 2016 at 11:03 AM,  <l.wood@surrey.ac.uk> wrote:
>> The mode of failure I keep seeing in IETF is the following:
>>
>> 1) A very narrow scope is decided 'to focus'
>>
>> 2) Poorly thought out aspects of the proposal are defended because the
>> problems they cause are 'out of scope'
>>
>> 3) The resulting RFC describes a protocol that is worse than useless.
>>
>> 4) The proposal fails in the market.
>>
>> 5) The experience is used as 'proof' that the problem is insoluble. (optional)
>
> This holds for the IRTF too - though step 5 there is 'let's form an IETF workgroup to push it into adoption! This time for sure!'
>
> Lloyd Wood
> http://sat-net.com/L.Wood/dtn
> ________________________________________
> From: ietf <ietf-bounces@ietf.org> on behalf of Phillip Hallam-Baker <phill@hallambaker.com>
> Sent: Tuesday, 22 March 2016 2:27 AM
> To: Jari Arkko
> Cc: IETF
> Subject: Re: Observations on (non-technical) changes affecting IETF operations
>
> On Mon, Mar 21, 2016 at 10:17 AM, Jari Arkko <jari.arkko@piuha.net> wrote:
>
>> Yes, but I would approach this from a slightly different end-point. It is always the case that convincing others of something new is a lot of work. In my mind, standards or open source work both succeed best when performed by those who actually are deploying and in charge of building mainstream systems (commercial or open source) for the topic. So it is not so much about IETF folk reaching the adopters, but having the adopters drive the IETF work…
>>
>
>
> One of the problems I see is that 'consensus' is wielded as an input
> to the process rather than being the output.
>
> People are already telling me that there is 'no consensus' for my
> proposal for the LURK BOF. How on earth is there supposed to be
> consensus if we haven't even met yet?
>
> The mode of failure I keep seeing in IETF is the following:
>
> 1) A very narrow scope is decided 'to focus'
>
> 2) Poorly thought out aspects of the proposal are defended because the
> problems they cause are 'out of scope'
>
> 3) The resulting RFC describes a protocol that is worse than useless.
>
> 4) The proposal fails in the market.
>
> 5) The experience is used as 'proof' that the problem is insoluble. (optional)
>
>
> What should be obvious, I hope, is that the narrower your scope, the
> narrower the appeal of your solution.
>
> The risk in considering a wide scope is that the solution becomes
> overly complex. But it can also make the solution simpler by forcing
> the designers to consider what the fundamental issues are and deal
> with them in a modular, extensible fashion.
>
> I have a proposal:
>
> * Use cases are not subject to consensus calls.
> * Requirements derived from the use cases are.
>
> What I want to use a specification for is really none of anyone else's
> business. When a person proposes a use case, what they are essentially
> saying is 'this is what the specification has to do if you want my
> support'. So why should that be subject to a consensus requirement?
>
> During the SAML design, there was a working group on use cases that
> spent a lot of time voting on use cases. Some of the work was useful
> in that it did help clarify what the use case was. But the time they
> spent arguing over whether given use cases were in or out was a total
> waste of time because I was writing the architecture specification and
> I made sure that I could meet every use case anyone ever proposed.
>
> In design, I actually find the more absurd use cases turn out to be
> the most useful because they can lead to a different way of thinking
> about the problem.
>