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[ih] Impact of history on today's technology [was: why did CC happen at all?]

> *When engineers acquire a relatively well-defined problem to solve and*
> *work in a relatively collaborative manner to solve it, it is difficult*
> *to discern forces or processes that can reasonably be called "political"**in
> any practical sense.*

This might better apply to the technical implementation, I suppose. For
example, there was a lot of collaboration on drafting the technical
specification for DNS that became Paul Mockapetris' RFCs. The way the
servers work, the data structures, and the different records fall in this
category. Maybe we're talking past each other here, but that's not the part
I'm referring to.

I would call the intellectual climate of ARPA-Internet and OSI a political
one. By that I mean politics internal to the community.

In the archives I found meeting notes etc which indicate quite explicitly
that countries should be TLDs because the system being developed by IFIP
(which was doing pre-standards work for naming/addressing for OSI) would
have countries at the top. In fact, there was a lot of clamor for countries
at the top from people who were either affiliated with other OSI work or
working on IFIP itself. I found only a couple of cases where people argued
for a geographical structure on its own merits.

There was an assumption by many non-Americans, and some Americans too, that
OSI would subsume whatever standards ARPA developed. This assumption is to
my mind a reflection of the internal politics I'm talking about, and it
influenced how people argued for a certain naming structure. So while it's
absolutely true that no one was looking at the relevant OSI parts
(x.400/x.500) and thinking of making domains, it is true that the existence
of these looming, assumed (by some) standards had a big influence on

One other example I can give happened in the late 80s with the UK's JANET
network (bare with me here). As many of you may recall, their Name
Recognition Scheme (NRS) appeared like domain names, but backwards
(UK.AC.CAM, for example). This became an issue after the Velvet Revolution,
when the Czechs applied for a ccTLD (.CS). Now all of the sudden the mail
exchangers would have a hell of a time parsing cs.edu.university.cs coming
from or through JANET -- should an email to to Czechoslovakia or to the
computer science department?

The Joint Network Team in the UK got a lot of head, particularly from ARPA
people, for not reversing their name order. They refused to do so for three
reasons. The first was that NRS predated domains. The second was that they
were terribly underfunded and it would require a lot of work (they were
suing one of their contractors at the time and had budget problems). The
third, and most telling, is that they'd spent all of their time on X.400
work and didn't want to make any drastic changes "because OSI will replace
everything anyway" (paraphrased).

*Intended?  "Fixed"?  Wherever did you get that idea from?*

I can't tell if this is tongue-in-cheek. In case it isn't, this comes also
from meeting notes, emails, and reports that are all archived at the
Feinler collection at the Computer History Museum. "Fixed" is of course a
fluid term here, but I've used it because it was used multiple times in the
archival materials. The idea was that there would be a small set that would
be enough for a person to remember.

Sorry for the long message, just wanted to get the list back on track.

On Thu, Sep 4, 2014 at 6:49 PM, Dave Crocker <dhc2 at dcrocker.net> wrote:

> On 9/4/2014 1:21 PM, Eric Gade wrote:
> > Based on my own research and work in this field, there's a real
> > disconnect between what's observed and what people discuss on this list.
> > What I mean is that all technical decisions are in their own way
> > political,
> In the abstract, that's probably true.  In the concrete, it often is
> not.  Of course, often is not the same as never, of course.
> When engineers acquire a relatively well-defined problem to solve and
> work in a relatively collaborative manner to solve it, it is difficult
> to discern forces or processes that can reasonably be called "political"
> in any practical sense.  Such situations do occur.
> > The example I will use is DNS and domain names, because that's what I've
> > written about. While in the early 80s there was a need for a naming
> > system do deal with several pressing issues (email header nightmares,
> > for one), the system that was eventually put in place was neither
> > obvious nor inevitable. There are ccTLDs and gTLDs. They both exist in
> > the system because some people thought that recognizing international
> > domains would be important not just from a basic geographic standpoint,
> > but because OSI would eventually subsume or operate on top of whatever
> > ARPA implemented, and so might as well have ccTLDs for that forthcoming
> > future.
> I wasn't in the middle of the decision to create ccTLDs but my
> understanding is that it had nothing to do with OSI.
> For name administration, the DNS' prime directive is delegation.  That
> creates the task of figuring out who to delegate to, and how to make a
> model -- or in the case of TLDs model/s/ -- that scale.
> It did not take much DNS growth before countries became an obvious
> delegation model.  Trying to figure out things like what is a country
> motivated Postel to look for an acceptable list maintained by someone
> else.  That was his basis for landing on the ISO table.
> But that had nothing to do with OSI.
> > On the opposite end, gTLDs were intended to be a fixed set
> > containing everything else, a set with global (in the geographic sense)
> > applicability.
> Intended?  "Fixed"?  Wherever did you get that idea from?
> d/
> --
> Dave Crocker
> Brandenburg InternetWorking
> bbiw.net

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