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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.? 

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


HTH

Andy

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