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StefanL, 26.05.11 10:41
Resourceful as ever mrs. motz pointed us to an interesting presentation a certain Mr. John Day recently held at the "future of networking" conference in Budapest.
John D. Day (born 1947) might not be as well known as Vinton Cerf, Bob Kahn, Larry Roberts or even Jon Postel - really the most important of them all - but like all of them he is a computer scientist, an Internet pioneer and a historian. He has been active in the development of the communication protocols of Internet and its predecessor ARPANET since the 1970ies and has also also been involved in the design of the Open Systems Interconnection Model (aka OSI Reference Modl.
Day is the author of the 2008 book Patterns in Network Architecture: A Return to Fundamentals and the RFC documents RFC 520, RFC 728, RFC 731, and RFC 732.
A critique of the Internet architecture at a historically and technically fundamental level
You will find a pdf of this presentation of Mr. Day's on Future InterNet Design (FIND) at Forum Athena here. That one is for all practical purposes the same as the one he used in Budapest.
Mr. Day is a very classical sort of technology pioneer. Having been there and having co-designed the t-shirt, he knows exactly where the quarrels were and which decisions (in his opinion) went wrong and which problems of today's Internet are connected with which of those decisions. So nowadays he travels the internetworking congress circuit and pokes his fingers into all the wounds, hoping this will result in a real wakeup call.
Everybody knows, we here at tinytalk plc. are buffs for computing and networking history. If you belong to those who know us a bit better, dear reader, you might also know that we are glad about demystification. And though having moved our HQ to Jamaica we also adore any hint at points where we can see that important computing and networking systems still contain technology invented in Europe and not in California or Massachusetts and who the guys were who developed and provided it.
Listen to a short sample of Mr.Day's Budapest talk here. It is an mp3-audio, also provided by Mrs. motz at motz.antville.org.
Moore's law has made us sloppy.
But enough of the preliminaries. Now we'd like to look at just some of Mr. Days concise aphorisms on why software (especially networking code) is still as inmature as it is: "Moore's Law has allowed us to ignore important questions, it has made us sloppy".
After thorough examination and analysis of this stunning proposition the tinytalk tech stuff gave the following variant as a more correct alternative: "The phenomenon that Gordon Moore observed (called a law by Carver Mead) in conjunction with the current mode of production and distribution has forced us* to decide for solutions that were mostly not bad but had no answers for a lot of important questions".
The meaning of these two variants is relevantely different. Whereas the first one implies that sloppy idiots took the wrong bends in the past and did not listen to better informed people (like Mr. Day maybe), the second one points to a set of circumstances that forced non-ideal decisions that got things ahead while paying price, 'cause, as we used to say, there is no such thing as a free lunch. The same goes for the sometimes mysterious success of programming languages and the strange relapse of software practice into the primitive when microprocessors came along. It is just that sloppiness was forced but not the point.
*Society in general and the software academia and industry in particular
An echo elsewhere
The proposition of "Moore's law driving the computer industry" like fossile fuel driving the economy at large and by its "cheapness" (eq. easy availability) preventing "better solutions" finds a nice echo in Steven Wozniak's hope that software will get better, once the run of Moore's law hits the "atomic barrier". As the Wired Archive tells us:
Here's a question from an e-mail to Mr. Wozniak:
And here's WOZ's answer:
A preliminary observation
Well, somehow the run of Moore's Law (actually an observation that soon became a self fulfilling prophecy) will not end in 2012, as far as we can tell now, but we we will probably see the day in this very lifetime and not only in our next one. However that be Dennard scaling has ended in 2006 and with it a lot of what was driving the development commonly called Moore's law. Ever more logic gates, multicore and automatic optimization is what's driving progress now.
People get ready there's a train a-coming,
motzes, 27.05.11 10:55
now, mr day is still active and writes and tries solutions. take a look at RINA.
no sé if that might be called a solution, though. anyhow, the point i want to stress is: a good thing can be identified by watching closely these exercises ted and john are challenging former/current thinking and solutions: setting free a wake up call; set a seed for thinking and rethinking. repeating mistakes while being informed might be common, but both are choosing the not that easy way; and for that they deserve applause, imho. is it of help? i think so, yes. as there is a sort of "frustration" popping up in the younger crowd with how things are done. therefore the timing might be not that bad at all. especially as the problems are popping up on all coding fronts (parallelism, exascale, cyber physical systems, reliability, and more and more digitals are thrown at society.
john might cut the story short, some times, he even might act impatient, but as an old friend and scholar of heinz von foerster, he is indeed trained in cybernetic thinking.
StefanL, 27.05.11 11:22
is just, that if he gave a bit more credit to things done right instead of nearly only saying what went wrong he might be able to modify his thinking and saying in a way, so that more of those good ideas found acceptance and actual mass implementation instead of remaining in safe and obscure places where only nerds like you and me like to look.
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