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[ih] protocol structure -> economic structure

On Mar 2, 2012, at 8:59 AM, Bill Ricker wrote:

> On Fri, Mar 2, 2012 at 7:10 AM, Tony Finch <dot at dotat.at> wrote:
>> There's an idea that the structure of a protocol (or the topology implied
>> by the protocol or that emerges from it) determines the economic structure
>> of the service providers and users of that protocol. Sadly I can't now
>> remember where I got this idea from.
>> Does anyone here have pointers to literature mentioning or describing this
>> idea? Is anyone acknowledged as its originator? Does it have a snappy name?
> I don't have a cite for your distributed form, but 6hat's a variation
> (corollary? inversion!) of Conway's Law, the origin of which is known.
> (odd coincidence, Mel Conway was a fellow-type guru at Wang Labs when
> I was there, and then a few years later, I was with the group Symantec
> built around his much earlier Think C product.)

I also thought the initial question sounded like a variation of Conway's Law: ?There is a very close relationship between the structure of a system and the structure of the organization which designed it.?  See M.E. Conway, ?How Do Committees Invent?? Datamation, vol. 14, no. 4, 1968; 

The hacker jargon file emphasizes that Conway's Law deals with intra-organizational communication: "Organizations which design systems are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations.?
 ?Conway?s Law,? at http://www.catb.org/~esr/jargon/html/C/Conways-Law.html.

I seem to remember Tracy Kidder using this notion in _The Soul of a New Machine_, but I don't have a copy nearby.  I can follow up on Monday if there's any interest.  

Finally, As I was poking around in my notes about Conway's Law I also found a related quote from a 1994 article by Dave Crocker:  ?In general, the IETF is applying its own technical design philosophy to its own operation.? 

D. Crocker, ?Making Standards the IETF Way,? StandardView, vol. 1, no. 1, 1993, p. 54. 



Andrew L. Russell, Ph.D
Assistant Professor, College of Arts & Letters
Stevens Institute of Technology