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Ken Camp on the World of Ends

Ken Camp, who sure knows networks, takes to task the article Doc and I wrote called World of Ends.

I’m on deadline and have only had time to skim it. It looks well reasoned. Some of what I saw takes us as saying something other than what we meant (which is very likely our fault). Some of it we may just be wrong about. I’m looking forward to a more leisurely read…

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6 Responses to “Ken Camp on the World of Ends”

  1. David,

    Thanks for taking the time to read. I saw someone’s comment somewhere that I’d blasted you and Doc ro some such. That wasn’t the intent at all. I reread World of Ends as background for a lecture series I’m working on and I noted two really key thoughts.

    In several cases, I found myself wondering whether or not you said what I read. Or whether I was implying or thinking more into the words than intended. Given that 6-8 months have passed since you guys wrote that, it’s certainly likely.

    The other thing that leapt out at me was really emphasized by Frank Paynters comment. He referred to World of Ends as “marketing and policy shaping work.” And I realized perhaps I’ve embraced in that way and incorrectly. I don’t believe you or Doc either one really intended to embrace marketing of Internet technology. Policy perhaps. Philosophy of operation and growth, certainly.

    I appreciate your thoughts when yo utake the time to read. You and I tend to fundamentally agree on some very core concepts, and at the very same time fundamentally disagree on something else that’s perhaps only a degree away. That’s the drawback of blogs and the really light exposure people gain to one another online. In reality I suspect we agree more wholeheartedly and disagree more vehemently that I’ve been able to figure out in the last year or two.

    Cheers and safe holidays to you and yours!

  2. My use of “marketing” was probably an error.

    Yet I do see “World of Ends” as an essay that has as a major purpose the influencing of policy development. By providing a conceptual framework for a stupid network with intelligent endpoints, David and Doc have helped advance the cause of a broader market beyond the monopolistic practices of the pre-1982 telco marketplace. Judge Greene said somewhere, “The basic assumption of the breakup was that you couldn’t have competition, fair competition, as long as there was this massive company that encompassed all areas of the country and all types of service.” Doc and David go further and urge the FCC, the telecom industry, and the content companies to cast off the chains of their narrow monopolistic tendencies and favoritism based regulatory practices and let the Internet grow free. I can’t argue with that, and I wouldn’t want to. Call this an idealized strategic direction. Call my narrow view short range tactical planning.

    I see the engineering and management perspectives on our “network of networks” as being more crisply defined, bounded by an objective clarity of design, implementation and operation than the “World of Ends” . The “World of Ends” exists in a more subjective setting, and is a laudable architectural direction. Pragmatically, I’ve wondered how we can deliver ubiquitously high levels of QoS without a few “switching yards” in the cloud.

    What Ken wrote appealed to me because it seems to reflect a similar viewpoint. We don’t really have infinite bandwidth available at the most commoditized prices wherever and whenever we may need it. Regardless of the “World of Ends” assertion that it’s simple, it’s truly all rather more complex than a shiny hollow sphere bristling with logic and providing perfect virtual adjacency. Yet this would be a good model to be driving toward as we provision our future networks and develop our “end point digital appliances.”

    So this is a good conversation that Ken got going, and I think it was wise of him to reflect his own viewpoints in the context of the “World of Ends.”

  3. The World of Ends

    David Weinberger has an item about The World of Ends and an excellent review/rebuttal from Ken Camp. David and Doc Searls comment that we are screwing up the internet by making a mistake about what it is. That is accurate,…

  4. World of Ends as a Beginning

    Frank Paynter commented on my comments to David Weinberger Looking for a reasonable way to respond/reply without constraining things to comments, so I’m taking the liberty of answering here, hoping the link back to David’s comments works, and anticipat…

  5. Great comment Frank. Of course, we don’t really have infinite bandwidth available at the most commoditized prices wherever and whenever we may need it, but the progression is just as unavoidable as the progression from the highly differentiated market of low powered PCs and high powered servers and workstations of the ’80s to the point where high-end PC derived architectures compete head-to-head with the more specialized architectures and companies like Sun and IBM struggle to stay cost competitive.

    I maintain, and I think we all agree on this, that the companies that continue to embrace open technologies and relentlessly pursue efficiencies to deliver more computing power and network bandwidth at lower costs over strategies for which Bill Joy coined the phrase “Vender Motel” will be the only survivors.

    I’m going to follow Ken’s lead and post my comment from his post here as well:

    We don’t really have infinite bandwidth available at the most commoditized prices wherever and whenever we may need it.

  6. Oops, reused by past buffer, here’s the other comment:

    Excellent post, but allow me to introduce some criticism in the same spirit that you offer it to Doc and Dave.

    Your first section is muddled, and I don’t really know what you are getting at WRT Google and Fox. IMHO, Google succeeds precisely to the extent that their ranking reflects how searchers want to see results, and to the extent that they manipulate their ranking system to advantage particular paying interest, they will lose their reputation and customer base. Likewise with ISPs that embrace more filtering and gatekeeping functions. AOL was forced early on to provide a pretty much unfiltered gateway to the general purpose internet by the market. Although there may be a significant, even majority market in providing a more managed service, I think there will always be room for unfiltered providers. The question is will big players be allowed to manipulate the market to the extent that they can actually lock out the smaller innovaters that are growing the network at the edges.

    Looked at this way, it is a battle very similar to the Microsoft vs. the world battle in system software. I haven’t read “World of Ends” yet, but I’m going to guess that the real issue is not really how smart or dumb the network cloud is but who controls it. The big telecoms just aren’t close enough to the innovators and customers to adapt quickly to their needs, so instead they act to control markets through differentiated services. But their’s a paradox here, the drive toward differentiation is a drive to gather premium revenues to themselves and shut out anyone who wont pay up. But this works against innovation precisely because this type of control kills innovation.

    On the other hand if they gave up the desire to control everything, and introduced new services based on shared development and marketing models. New services would propagate quickly under viral marketing models proven with FOSS software. Then they could use there size and capital infrastructure to capture a share of a rapidly growing market instead of trying to monopolize a constant or shrinking one.

    Reading your the chapter section you closed with, for the big players, providing a building with power, fiber access and a secure environment isn’t really hosting, it’s real estate management, isn’t that bad of a business model. What they need to make is work is a robust network of virtuallized partners. Smaller, nimbler companies will be more responsive to the end customers while the large provider get a competetive price for commodified services. The large organization provides the stability and replicated support systems that are just too costly for a small player to provide and spreads the costs over a large number of end customers, and the nimble network provides the responsive end customer facing services.

    Your completely right about your technical analysis as well as the stuff about the telecom markets, but if the central point of World of Ends is that the successful telecom companies will be the ones that provide the most efficient commodified services, I think that’s right on too. Of course the Internet cannot “want” anything, but the market expands and develops best when this condition obtains, and any attempt to hold this back will ultimately fail.

    I’ve been around the industry since the late ’70s when IBM was king and nobody could be fired for buying into their proprietary, locked-in solutions, and now they’re just a big player. I’ve been predicting Microsoft’s demise for almost ten years now, and I still think their tenure as the dominant playing will be much shorter than IBM’s. They are already past peak.

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