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Two of the Internet’s parents explain its origins and future

Scott Bradner and Steve Crocker are two of the tech geniuses who built the Internet in an open way and built it to be open. Now they have both published instructive columns recounting the thinking behind the Net that has been responsible for its success . I highly recommend both.

From Scott‘s:

The IETF has interpreted the “End to End” paper to basically say that
the network should not be application aware. Unless told otherwise by
an application, the network should treat all Internet traffic the

…this design philosophy has led the IETF to create
technologies that can be deployed without having to get permission
from network operators or having to modify the networks.

…Last year I was worried about what rules regulators and politicians
were going to impose on the Internet. This year, my pessimism is
focused at a lower level in the protocol stack: I’m worried about what
kind of network the network operators will provide for the IETF to
build on, for me and you to use, and for tomorrow’s enterprises to
depend on.

From Steve‘s:

…we always tried to design each new protocol to be
both useful in its own right and a building block available to others.
We did not think of protocols as finished products, and we
deliberately exposed the internal architecture to make it easy for
others to gain a foothold. This was the antithesis of the attitude of
the old telephone networks, which actively discouraged any additions
or uses they had not sanctioned.

As we rebuild our economy, I do hope we keep in mind the value of
openness, especially in industries that have rarely had it. Whether
it’s in health care reform or energy innovation, the largest payoffs
will come not from what the stimulus package pays for directly, but
from the huge vistas we open up for others to explore.

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