NOTE: These are my personal notes, and do NOT form any part of the official output from that meeting, nor does it form an UNINETT position.
What's more, I believed them.
The approx. 2000 INET attendees proved an interesting contrast to the highly casual, technically oriented nearly to obsession crowd at the IETF conference; one wag called it the "suits and sandals" conference.
Some crossover occured; many of the speakers at INET were
from the IETF crowd; some of the attendees at INET stuck their heads
into IETF conferences. But the mingling was smaller than expected, and
did not seem worth the trouble of having a joint meeting.
(The fact that the conference hotel was a 20-min walk from the conference centre was also heartily disliked by most participants - but hotels with room for conferences with 3000-plus attendees are VERY few and far between....)
Nonetheless, some of the most important standards: Mail, News, FTP, haven't been revised for 10-15 years, and their language is archaic, unclear and out of touch with the real world as presently seen.
In all these areas, efforts are underway to rewrite the standard, and "get it right this time" - NOT adding new functionality beyond what is needed to make sure extensions can be added later, but making sure the documents are simple to find, easy to understand, and specify the protocol we are really using.
However, the longer we wait, the more painful the lack of a standard is.
In both the Uniform Resource Names area (providing permanent identifiers for Web resources, so that they can be copied and moved) and the even more contentious Key Exchange area (making sure you know who you are trusting, and maybe why), the pain of not having an agreed way of achieving this seems to have led to a large-scale slaughtering of sacred cows, and a willingness to compromise that has surprised hardened observers of the process.
I have hopes that a similar process is underway in the E-mail security
area, but at the moment, nothing much is happening there; PGP/MIME has
been put on the standards track, MOSS remains on it, S/MIME is
changing and not standard, and MSP (US DoD) is a very dark horse.
We'll see if the pain rises a bit in the next 6 months....
For proof, there was no need to go furhter than a glance at the INET delegates, who formed a far wider range of ethnic backgrounds than the still largely white-male-American crowd that forms the IETF.
Still, a lot of IETF standards have trouble with handling of internationalized material: language, character sets and other features that are important are often forgotten at the design stage.
The IAB commissioned a workshop to look into this just before the
previous IETF, and the recommendations of that workshop, while not
finally published, were talked about a lot here.
It would be wrong to say that the specific recommendations (basically, UTF-8 and language tagging) were embraced heartily by all; however, large swaths of the community seemed to heave a sigh of relief that there WAS a recommendation, so that they could "do something sensible and get on with the fun parts".
Of course, the devil is in the details....
Some words of note: