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

On 9/4/2014 4:27 PM, Eric Gade wrote:
>     /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

You said "all technical decisions" and so I was focusing on... technical
decisions of the DNS.  Design, specification, and the like.

I believe the closest one could come to 'politics' for that early design
effort was "the host table is to big and we need something with better
scaling properties."

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

And that's why I said "in theory" one can call all sorts of things

The problem is that that word politics often gets used quite generically
and even quite politically.  So I wanted to get to a very pragmatic
point about technical decision environments in which there is no
meaningful overtone or undertone of politics internal to the community
doing the work.

> 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,

I'm so glad I included the caveat that I wasn't in the middle of that.

On the other hand, I did participate a few of the x.500 discussions,
which I assume is what you are referring to?

Do you have a pointer to those minutes?

> There was an assumption by many non-Americans, and some Americans too,
> that OSI would subsume whatever standards ARPA developed. This

Different issue.  Yes, OSI was assumed by most to be what would become
the international standard.  And there certainly was massive politics
and finance and organization commitment to it.  This goes to show that
with enough effort, even a guaranteed success can be made to fail.

In the case of X.400 the critical error -- besides the overall excessive
complexity -- was entirely political, namely that telecom companies
would be central switching services for all email; that's what comes of
hosting the effort in a telecoms regulatory agency...

X.500 made similar errors in pragmatics.

>     /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.

ack.  hmmm.

Dave Crocker
Brandenburg InternetWorking