Re: IETF WG meetings and remote participation

Carsten Bormann <> Sat, 15 February 2020 20:20 UTC

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Subject: Re: IETF WG meetings and remote participation
From: Carsten Bormann <>
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Date: Sat, 15 Feb 2020 21:20:33 +0100
Cc: John C Klensin <>, IETF <>
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To: Robert Raszuk <>
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Hi Robert,

The points you are making are coming up repeatedly.

Usually, the discussion derails quickly because people are making statements about what theoretically should be (as in, no world hunger) instead of what actually happens.

> I think you have touched on the very key point. What is the value of WG meetings if in many cases during WG meetings interactive discussions are either minimal or non existent ? 

The f2f meeting may be the only way to bring discussions to a closure.  If it is prepared well, the discussions have already happened before the meeting, and people go there with the desire to get that closure.  To an outside observer, it may seem as if nothing happens, but the checkpoint in the meeting is needed to make the discussions beforehand happen, and converge.

> And as you also correctly observed in most cases mic lines being cut to proceed with another monologue just to fulfil the packed agenda. 

If that is all that happens, fire the WG chairs.
(Again, it may seem so to an outside observer, but there may be much more happening.)

> I think each draft should have a youtube video attached such that instead of wasting time to listen to one actor shows watch it before and then sped those 10-15 min to interactively discuss. 

This is another version of “read the drafts”.  
We could try adding videos into the mix, but they won’t change the actual dynamics.

Why are people “presenting” drafts?

(1) to make the community aware that something is happening.  Video doesn’t help.
(2) as an actual tutorial.  Video may be helping.  However, forcing people to sit through such a tutorial is sometimes the only way to make progress in that real world we are working in.
(3) to jog the minds of people who have points that they could be making.  Video doesn’t help.
(4) for serendipity: to elicit comments from “tourists” (really, the body of experience making up the IETF that is actually its main net worth).

WG meetings may have a bit of boardroom dynamics.  In a boardroom, the worst thing you can do is waste everyone’s time.  This can be a powerful force to make discussions converge that were wandering all over the place.

> Maybe even the ratio of "who has read the draft or watched the video" significantly would raise from few hands to entire WG room or at least half of it :). 

Most of us don’t have time to read all the drafts.  This is not going to get better with wasting additional time on videos.

> For me personally most value in attending IETF is 70-80% to meet colleagues during breaks,

See?  That’s the point.  And the actual WG meetings are the place where things then converge and decisions are made, but also consensus is generated by getting participation and agreement from an ever wider group.

>  dinners, breakfasts or bar and remaining 20-10% is to present new drafts hoping this may trigger more break time or on the list discussions.  


The new scheduled side meeting vehicle has improved the quality of the hallway discussions significantly.  Hallway discussions are something that is hard to do remote participation for.  A side meeting room, and an iPad is a wonderful tool combination to help with that.  But it requires individuals that think ahead about this.

> Sure some may have different agenda to attend (for example to use IETF as new technology solution push piston), some may organize meetings with customers around IETF etc ... but here I think we should focus on just the real IETF values. 

(Not the problem.)

> #1 how can we maximize time to get the most out of it to discuss new technologies, protocol extensions etc ..

Get rid of distractions.  Meeting f2f is one of the few known ways to help with that.

> #2 how can we make it really open, easily accessible and equal for local and remote participants 

Taking small steps toward this goal is great.  But that only works as long as people keep in mind it is just an ideal, not actually an achievable, measurable goal.

Grüße, Carsten