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

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

I yield. Bad choice of words.

> *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.*

Having looked extensively at the conversations about what naming structure
should be in place, I can't entirely agree that OSI is a different issue.
There were strong cases made, for example, for a DNS structure that
reflected network topology -- with UUCP and the like as TLDs. I think we
look back now and assume that political geography is an obvious choice, but
a lot of debate went into it and it probably wasn't that obvious compared
to others. It became obvious once people started mentioning the importance
of countries in the IFIP scheme.

In saying that OSI affected this or that, I'm not referring to some
specific technical feature therein. I'm referring precisely to this
assumption by many that it would become a widely used international
standard. That assumption affected to a certain degree -- I argue a large
degree in the case of TLDs -- the decisions people made about structure.
Had people not been affected by OSI concerns, it might very well be the
case that networks would be TLDs (even early draft RFCs had these). This is
what I mean by a connection, an influence. Clearly they had different
technical features and concerns.

Of course, I'm willing to accept that I'm completely off base, but I
haven't seen any archival evidence to the contrary, nor have I seen works
that make use of such evidence.

*Do you have a pointer to those minutes?*

I'll have to go digging around through my own photos of the files again. I
don't have anything from meetings about X500 itself, as I wasn't really
concerned with it.

Some of the meeting notes I'm talking about are hand-written notes, mostly
from Jake Feinler, that are kept at the Computer History Museum. It's
really an impressive archival collection. A lot of the other source
material includes drafts of various standards including RFCs, printed
(believe it or not) versions of all kinds of emails, and messages on the
*Namedroppers* list. There are some interesting published papers too
(including one by Mockapetris and Postel in which they compare IFIP to

I believe it's in one of those papers that Postel says, "Naming is a
uniquely political act."

On Thu, Sep 4, 2014 at 7:53 PM, Dave Crocker <dhc2 at dcrocker.net> wrote:

> 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
> political.
> 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.
> d/
> --
> Dave Crocker
> Brandenburg InternetWorking
> bbiw.net

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