Re: "why I quit writing internet standards"

Michael Richardson <> Mon, 14 April 2014 16:34 UTC

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From: Michael Richardson <>
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Subject: Re: "why I quit writing internet standards"
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Date: Mon, 14 Apr 2014 12:34:40 -0400
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George, Wes <> wrote:
    > - 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.

For instance, had DMARC proponents and/or Yahoo, spent some time making sure
that there was some running code for mailing list use, life would be better.

I'm not entirely clear how it was that we produced/funded (more) running code in the
1990s.  Maybe this is a false idea; it could be that there was less code then
than there is now.   I will posit several factors:
  1) there was less working occuring, and perhaps over a longer time period
     (where time is subject to perception as well as reality), such that
     code became mature sooner in the specification process, and/or there
     were simply more volunteers willing to produce it.

  2) many companies were much smaller, and it was easier to get line managers
     to see why they wanted to be directly involved, even lead, efforts.

  3) it wasn't so much the dotcom boom which made money available via VCs,
     but rather that the (ultimately unstainable) revenue doubling, quarter
     over quarter which made resources available for prototypes.

  4) there were some clear institutions (MIT, CMU, Berkeley, LLBL, UW) where
     some good reference implementations were developed by students, faculty,
     staff.  And don't forget WIDE and USAGI!!!

When I founded Xelerance, it was with the idea that multiple large
organizations were shipping IPsec code on Linux, and would rather pay a
company a maintenance fee than attempt to manage the process internally.
We got some work funded, but we never got enough funding to get ahead of
the standardization process and write code will an ID was still young.
Overall, that effort failed.

Michael Richardson <>ca>, Sandelman Software Works
 -= IPv6 IoT consulting =-