IETF mission (RE: pausable explanation for the Document Series)

Brian E Carpenter brian at
Sun Jun 8 16:04:38 CEST 2003

Eric Rosen wrote:
> Considerations often cited which I don't agree with: 

It's a bit hard to separate the polemic from the rational in this
list, but let's try:

> - must not be intended for uses which violate my personal values

That really doesn't seem to me to be a factor. As we saw with RFC 1984 
and RFC 2804, to take two examples that may be relevant to your 
underlying point, when there is a clear majority view among the 
individual engineers who make up the IETF, the IETF may decide that 
certain things are inappropriate topics for standardization in the IETF.

> - must not  be intended for uses which  violate my idea of  how the Internet
>   should be used

Same response.

> - must not be intended for uses which allow Service Providers to add value

There is a principle, which I think has been articulated often as a shared
value in the IETF, that we shouldn't standardize things that harm the
Internet as a whole, or that destroy global connectivity and access. It may
well be that this principle is sometimes in conflict with tools that might
serve short-term commercial interests of SPs. I would indeed hope that
the IETF would decline to standardize such things. But your version
is caricature.

> - must not violate some alleged philosophical principle articulated 25 years
>   ago 

Let's just pretend you didn't write "alleged" and "philosophical". There
are a bunch of engineering principles that *were* articulated between
about 1974 and 1985 that are objectively behind the Internet's success
(compared say to SNA, DECnet, and OSI). Some them were collected in
RFC 1958. The basic physics of packet switching hasn't actually changed 
much since 1969. So if you think that there have been changes that 
invalidate some of those principles, please write the Internet-Draft 
explaining this.

> - must  not  make  it  more  difficult  to  write  multi-party  peer-to-peer
>   applications

Yes, that's a very valid technical objection to certain things. The future
of e-business certainly requires multi-party peer-to-peer connectivity,
so I'd say there's a few hundred billion dollars of revenue riding on
this one.

> - must have the highest conceivable level of security

Caricature. "Must not have sloppy security" is more like it.

> - guaranteed bug-free

Caricature, but indeed any pretence that we can have bug-free specs
first time is illusory.


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