Re: "why I quit writing internet standards"

Christian de Larrinaga <> Mon, 14 April 2014 16:09 UTC

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Date: Mon, 14 Apr 2014 17:09:38 +0100
From: Christian de Larrinaga <>
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Subject: Re: "why I quit writing internet standards"
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Two observations.

First her point that the pace of change at " which the real world adopts
software has become orders of magnitude faster."

This is true at the applications layer but Internet layer has not seen
fast adoption of new services and protocols by networks. IPv6 has been
dismally slow.  This maybe one reason why IoT deployments are focussing
at application layer services and ignoring IP other than implement
ICE/STUN/TURN which otherwise would be unrequired complication.

Much of this has been outside standardisation controls being in the
decision making hands of the financial managers of network operators and
their customers.

Secondly maybe she should have stood for the IAB. We should have people
involved who are prepared to shake not just the cobwebs but the
spiders.  Somehow the link between having power (knowledge etc) for
defining "standards" and having the power to define their adoption have

If true then IETF could benefit from having more users and operators (of
all sizes and shapes) involved - perhaps?


George, Wes wrote:
> I’m surprised that no one has sent this out
> yet:
> "Summary: After contributing to standards organizations for more than
> seven years, engineer Vidya Narayanan decided it was time to move on.
> Although she still believes that these organizations make the Internet
> a better place, she wonders about the pace of change versus the pace
> of organizations."
> My thoughts-
> There are some nuggets of truth in what she says in this article, and
> in some of the comments. I think that the problems are real, so
> there’s value in taking the criticism constructively, despite the fact
> that the author chose to focus on the problems without any suggestions
> of solutions.
>     "while the pace at which standards are written hasn’t changed in
>     many years, the pace at which the real world adopts software has
>     become orders of magnitude faster."
>     …
>     "Running code and rough consensus, the motto of the IETF, used to
>     be realizable at some point. … In the name of consensus, we debate
>     frivolous details forever. In the name of patents, we never finish.”
>     …
>     "Unless these standards organizations make radical shifts towards
>     practicality, their relevance will soon be questionable.”
> I don’t have too many big ideas how to fix these problems, but I’ll at
> least take a crack at it in order to spur discussion. My paraphrase of
> the problem and some discussion follows.
> - We’ve lost sight of consensus and are too often derailed by a vocal
> minority of those willing to endlessly debate a point.
> Part of the solution to that is reiterating what consensus is and is
> not, such as draft-resnick-on-consensus so that we don’t confuse a
> need for consensus with a need for unanimity. Part of the solution is
> IETF leadership helping to identify when we have rough consensus
> encumbered by a debate that will never resolve itself, without
> quieting actual disagreement that needs continued discussion in order
> to find a compromise. I don’t have good suggestions on how to make
> that second half better.
> - We don’t have nearly enough focus on running code as the thing that
> helps to ensure that we’re using our limited cycles on getting the
> right things out expediently, and either getting the design right the
> first time, or failing quickly and iterating to improve
> The solution here may be that we need to be much more aggressive at
> expecting any standards track documents to have running code much
> earlier in the process. The other part of that is to renew our focus
> on actual interop standards work, probably by charter or in-group
> feedback, shift focus away from BCP and info documents. Perhaps when
> considering whether to proceed with a given document, we need test as
> to whether it’s actively helpful/needed and ensure that we know what
> audience would be looking at it, rather than simply ensuring that it
> is “not harmful” and mostly within the WG’s chartered focus.
> Thanks,
> Wes George
> Anything below this line has been added by my company’s mail server, I
> have no control over it.
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Christian de Larrinaga
@ FirstHand
+44 7989 386778