objectivity vs. leadership [was Re: Cross-Area Review]

James Kempf kempf at docomolabs-usa.com
Fri Apr 25 12:46:22 CEST 2003


There are many ways for IESG and IAB members to become involved in a
technical discussion, and not all of them require becoming outspoken
on a mailing list. In fact, doing so often is counterproductive,
because then the opinion becomes just another person's opinion, and
may carry little weight with partisans who are firmly convinced they
are right. An example of what I am talking about is a working group
charter that was somewhat controversial awhile back. One IAB member
had some very firm opinions about it, and was instrumental in working
with the ADs and WG chairs in getting the charter revised to reflect a
direction that was architecturally more appropriate, though the IAB
member never publically came out and argued one way or the other. Such
an approach may lead to "black helicopter" accusations, and so there
limits to when this indirect approach should be used. On very
controversial topics, such as the recent discussion about site local
on the IPv6 list, a carefully phrased public position, expressed in a
way that doesn't generate a spam-like cascade of counter opposition
from the other side, is sometimes more useful.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Aaron Falk" <falk at isi.edu>
To: "John C Klensin" <john-ietf at jck.com>
Cc: <problem-statement at alvestrand.no>
Sent: Friday, April 25, 2003 11:13 AM
Subject: objectivity vs. leadership [was Re: Cross-Area Review]

> John C Klensin wrote:
> >
> > The problem is a bit similar to the one I think we have seen
> > with ADs sometimes becoming (or being forced to become)
> > advocates for particular documents rather than careful and
> > objective evaluators.
> >
> John-
> I find it interesting that you see this as a problem.  There are two
> roles for the IESG: standard reviewers and architectural defenders.
> They overlap but your comment reveals that the two roles motivate
> different behaviors.  You refer to ADs as "careful and objective
> evaluators."  But, I think of them also as _advocates_ of the Right
> Way to engineer the Internet
> We talk about having ADs as the interdisciplinary, architectural big
> picture people who are protecting the Internet from Bad Ideas.  I
> they have opinions, indeed, I expect them to.  And if I'm right, it
> would be a good thing, imo, to hear about them.  I say, let these
> people (IAB and IESG) express their opinions and adovocate their POV
> in open fora so the community at large can a) discover their POV, b)
> learn from their wisdom, and c) debate them on critical issues --
> perhaps changing their minds or at least creating a community
> consensus opposing an opinion (which should be respected).  If we
> discover that, as a community, we don't like what they have to say,
> can replace them.
> In fact, I find the lack of participation from both IESG and IAB
> members on the IETF list in general, and the IPv6 LL debate in
> particular, to be somewhat disheartening.  I think their opinions on
> the Internet architecture with respect to the LL issue are important
> and would like to know where they stand.
> I am imagining why there are so few IESG and IAB voices in this LL
> debate and can come up with a few possible reasons, all depressing:
> 1. They are too busy reading documents to keep up with the IETF
>    list. -- Bad.
> 2. They feel that it is not their place to voice opinions and sway
>    debate. -- Also bad, since their opinions are supposed to be
>    valuable and might drive the debate in interesting and useful
>    directions.  IETF members are not shrinking violets (bug &
>    and will vociferously disagree with AD opinions.
> 3. They have made up their mind on the issue and feel the debate is
>    waste of time. -- Also bad -- the community is speaking.
> Have we frightened our trusted servants to the point where they will
> only express their opinions behind closed doors?  I want an IESG and
> IAB with opinions that lead, teach, listen, and respond to the
> community.  Reasonable, not passive, or even necessarily objective.
> My rant for the day.
> --aaron

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