Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
The Internet

World of Ends 199

epeus writes "At World of Ends, Doc Searls and David Weinberger explain the End-to-End nature of the internet in terms so clear even your manager could understand them. 'The Internet isn't complicated. The Internet isn't a thing. It's an agreement. The Internet is stupid. Adding value to the Internet lowers its value.' and so forth."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

World of Ends

Comments Filter:
  • by soulctcher ( 581951 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:44PM (#5460308)
    So what I will say is that this has got to be one of the most confusing, yet clear topics I've read on /. in a long time.
  • Theorem (Score:4, Insightful)

    by telstar ( 236404 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:45PM (#5460318)
    8. "No one owns it.

    Everyone can use it.

    Anyone can improve it."


    4. "Adding value to the Internet lowers its value."

    So the Internet is destined to fail?

    • Re:Theorem (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Minna Kirai ( 624281 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:53PM (#5460417)
      So the Internet is destined to fail?

      Yes, Doc & Dave have set themselves up to be misinterpreted with those particular headings.

      It makes sense if you read the text, and see that "improve it" in item 8 doesn't mean modifing the internet in any way- only modifying protocols that use it.

      "Adding value" to the internet, on the other hand, would mean changing the internet itself, which would break old applications, and make it harder to add new apps.

      • So MS .NET decreases the value of the internet and is destined to fail?

        That does seem to tie in pretty nicely with this. [slashdot.org]
        • Firstly, the phrase "destined to fail" was introduced by a poster [slashdot.org], neither did the "World of Ends" article nor myself said anything about that. The article said that abusing the internet's founding principles would be bad, but didn't claim it would be impossible. A sufficiently wrongheaded government, backed up with public fear and acquiesence, could close down the internet and replace it with a regulated, censored information utility.

          It also might be possible for Microsft, through careful leveraging of monopoly powers, to force all their users to change to closed, proprietary protocols, cutting them off from much of the internet's value.

          Opinions are divided on whether they'll actually try this. Some people [gnu.org] claim that .NET protocols are open enough to be non-dangerous. And, depending on who's in the Whitehouse in 2005, an attempt to leverage desktop software dominance into control of a new data-communication monopoly could land Microsoft in more serious legal trouble than they've ever had before.

          However, in terms of the "World of Ends" article, .NET is an application at the edge of the cloud, not in the center of it, and thus falls under section 8c "Anyone can improve it", rather than section 4 "Adding value lowers value".
          • Re:Theorem (Score:3, Insightful)

            Your're right. Guess I should have said; "Destined to fail in an ideally realized internet such as this article supports." Sorry.

            However, please further support this statement
            ".NET is an application at the edge of the cloud, not in the center of it, and thus falls under section 8c "Anyone can improve it", rather than section 4 "Adding value lowers value".

            .NET requires IIS, .NET will interact with the worlds most popular browser, operating system, and applications suite. .Net will require subscriptions. .NET comes along with the MS version of "Trusted Computing. .NET will control content by its ubiquitous nature. If .NET really takes off I can't see how it'll be at the edge of the cloud. The cloud will gradually transmogrify into MSInternet with some renegade fringes.
            • I agree that widespread adoption of Microsoft-controlled .NET opens a doorway for abuse.

              However, from a simplistic Internet-centric perspective, implementing .NET only involves adding new applications to hosts at the Edges. There's no plans for it to change the way routers handle packets, which is what a "change to the internet" would imply.

              Yes, it is possible that someday in the future, Microsoft will decide that to optimize .NET, they'll need to transition it away from the real internet, and either create an alternative, "value-added" network, or fund the deployment of ".NET support servers" inside major IP backbones.
              • I think my point is that it doesn't matter how routers handle packets if every interface is MS, every IP packet is stamped with .NET, etc. MS is outside the scope of the whole analogy simply because they are MS. They don't need to change the internet, they can just co-opt the whole thing

                I dunno though, it's Friday and the sun is out for the first time in a LONG time. Spring fever! Been nice chatting.
          • And, depending on who's in the Whitehouse in 2005, an attempt to leverage desktop software dominance into control of a new data-communication monopoly could land Microsoft in more serious legal trouble than they've ever had before.
            Yeah, they might get two slaps on the wrist. Unless Bush can get the economy out of the smoking hole in the ground he seems to have made, the next president will be tasked with bringing the US economy back into shape. This means that MS could simply whine about how Evil Government is oppressing their God-Given Freedom to Innovate. Suddenly, the DoJ will tread very carefully around anything that might infringe upon their right to bend the customers over and ream them up the arse, because that might hurt the recovering economy.
      • Re:Theorem (Score:3, Insightful)

        by coyote-san ( 38515 )
        I understood the point to be that there's been a huge disconnect between what people want and companies think they want. Or more often, what they try to convince consumers they want... and which only they can provide.

        Filtering contents adds value, right? Nobody really wants those porn sites? In reality, we all know that porn has been the driving force behind many internet protocols - in some cases people had no real options, in other cases they could go to local stores but didn't because of fear the neighbors/boss/whoever would see them and judge them.

        Music downloads adds value, right? Except the "solutions" replace an easily scratched plastic disc with an even more fragile piece of DRM-crap. With a CD, I can dub it to a tape so I can listen to it in my car. I can put it onto an MP3 player that I can take to the gym. But the "value-added" downloads can only be played on one system, for only a brief time.

        I believe that was their point - that almost everything claimed to "add value" to the internet has actually removed something people actually value. In contrast almost every time the net has been opened up (e.g., AOL becoming a gateway to the internet at large, instead of its own lake) has been considered valuable by the users.
        • Re:Theorem (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Minna Kirai ( 624281 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @02:10PM (#5461249)
          Filtering contents adds value, right?

          ISP level filtering is one of those things which some people think adds value to the internet, but really damages it. Host-level filtering, however, is a voluntary, application-level process which the host can disable at any time. This is why improvements to the internet should come at the application level (where they can be easily changed and removed if they turn out to have downsides), rather than deeper in the network (where it's harder to convince the sysadmins that you need changes made to do your work).

          (Host-level filtering may still be damaging in some cases, such as in a library whose users are forbidden from modifing local software. But that is a separate issue)

          Music downloads adds value, right?

          From the Internet's point of view, music downloads are "just another file transfer application". They are beyond the scope of section 4 [worldofends.com]. They "improve" [worldofends.com] the internet by providing another use at the ends. But, as you may have noticed, DRM-based music downloads aren't very popular yet. That's because, as the authors suggested, non-open protocols lack explosive popularity.

          an even more fragile piece of DRM-crap

          I think that the majority of music-downloaders still manage to find non-DRM files. Not as much as when Napster was running, but it still seems that most music downloads wind up as MP3 files on multiple, redundant CDRs.

          Hypothetically, the RIAA might someday propose modifying the internet to make their music transfers more secure, and that would be bad.

          (If they could push DRM onto 80% of newly manufactured PC hardware, that would be very bad for other reasons)
    • The collision between Anyone can improve it and Adding value to the Internet lowers its value goes away once you realise that Doc&Dave are using "Adding Value" in the sense of "not adding value at all, but changing things so that some stuff works better but the rest is worse".

      It's Humpty Dumpty logic:

      "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean--neither more nor less."

      "The question is, " said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

      "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty. "which is to be master--that's all."

      --
      Paul
      Humpty Dumpty was wrong

    • Re:Theorem (Score:2, Informative)

      by sniser2 ( 624542 )
      In the context of the Article "adding value" doesn't equal "improve" - that's kinda the whole point...
    • Re:Theorem (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @01:23PM (#5460720) Homepage Journal
      Think in i.e. Riverworld of P.J.Farmer, you have a river that connects all places in the world, the river is owned by nobody, everyone can use it, and everybody can build whatever they think around and over it, but if you change the river itself (contaminating water, redirecting or trying to stop it, adding to it some drink concentrate to make the water taste better, whatever), all the world loses, they can't use the same river in all the possible ways that they could before (and, if I remember well the book series, you will face a war very soon :)
    • "Adding value" =/= "improving".

      Remember, "adding value" is marketdroid speak for "screwing with." :)
  • by Raul654 ( 453029 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:45PM (#5460319) Homepage
    I hope he goes for a real-world case study -- the end to end transfer of a given porn movie. Definetely something your manager can read and relate to, plus it gives you an easy springboard onto such topics as average throughput, burst transmissions, etc :)
  • by Meat Blaster ( 578650 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:45PM (#5460320)
    Because (at least by the writeup) it sounds like they're delivering some sort of Zen-style analysis from within a cloud of blue smoke. How well does the sound of a hand stream over the Internet?
    • Also the general bandwidth, your download rate and the "Hand" server's send rate; find the bottleneck and that will limit your "Ommmmm"'s per second, young grasshopper.
  • World Ends (Score:5, Funny)

    by Slycee ( 35025 ) <rick@vroSLACKWAREop.com minus distro> on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:46PM (#5460332) Homepage
    Oh God I missed the "of" at first.

    Heaven help us. I found out about Armageddon on slashdot.

    ---
  • terms... (Score:1, Funny)

    by thrillbert ( 146343 )
    in terms so clear even your manager could understand them

    You greatly under estimate the power of the dork side.

    ---
    Reality is for people who lack imagination.
    • So you are using an OC3 line as well? Very well... your schwartz is as big as mine...
    • Re:terms... (Score:3, Funny)

      by telstar ( 236404 )
      "in terms so clear even your manager could understand them"

      • "You greatly under estimate the power of the dork side."
        • I'd say they greatly overestimate the power of management.

  • Huh (Score:3, Funny)

    by maximillianarturo ( 655330 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:48PM (#5460349)
    So should I sell my internet stock... or what?
  • by d0ggi3 ( 470141 )
    "Adding value to the Internet lowers its value."

    internet + 5 = internet - 5?
    • by Minna Kirai ( 624281 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @01:24PM (#5460736)
      I do take issue with that particular writeup, although it is true in many senses.

      Today, many so-called internet users have their access mediated by firewalls and NAT. This reduces the set of internet services available to them.

      (I'd even say, as a slight exaggeration, that their ISPs had engaged in false advertising by calling it "Internet Access")

      By the original definition of the internet, anyone with access (control of one host) could send packets to any address:port combination, and open any port to inbound connections.

      This means that everyone with internet access should be able to run an HTTP, FTP, or UT server. But many people are prevented by their ISP's routing policies.

      Firewalls and NATs supposedly "add value" to the internet by making it safer for some users. But it's not made a lot safer (worms get through even today), and it has "lowered value", because creating new applications is more difficult. For example, today there is a movement towards SOAP [soaprpc.com]; XML-RPC. Unfortunately, one of the motivations to promote it is to allow arbitrary, application-specific traffic to travel over port 80. To work around firewalls which only permit HTTP, we're starting to see a legitimization of tunneling commands over HTTP.

      (I'm not saying that was the original goal of SOAP- but sneaking around firewalls is one reason that some developers are eager to try it)

      So there's an example of why "adding value to the Internet" is generally bad.

      However, there are cases where it may be good. We all know that IPv6 will be a postive (someday). Multicast extensions to the internet were developed well after it was first created, and are generally accepted as a good thing, although their deployment so far is well short of universal. Multicasting is a superset of existing internet functionality (assigning a single packet to be destined to multiple recipients).

      Multicasting may turn out to have downsides, depending on how it's implemented (and I haven't followed development closely enough to be sure what the direction is). If it creates an unfair environment, where large corporations (CBS, MTV, RIAA) can create multicast streams, but individual users cannot, then it will cement inequality and make internet use move closer to resembling traditional television viewing. I feel justified in hoping this won't happen, however.

      And QoS (quality of service) is a debatable issue, not a flat-out bad one like the article [worldofends.com] suggests. IP, the existing internet protocol (not to be confused with Intellectual Property), makes no guarantee that packets will arrive quickly or in order. It doesn't state that packets will travel at the same speed as each other. It doesn't even state that a packet which is sent will ever arrive, only that the network make a "best effort" at getting it through someday.

      Since IP makes no guarantees of transmission speed, adding an optional mechanism to request QoS efforts won't break the existing protocol definitions. Yes, it may disturb some people to consider that internet packets, which used to be fair and unbiased, may someday have preference given to them based on the sender's bank account- but look at the alternative:

      • Today, internet access is filtered by bank account- if your wealth is too low, you can't use the internet at all. Allowing some packets to be more expensive to send allows the rich to subsidize the poor, who might be able to afford some access instead of none.
      • Today, deploying applications like voice, moving video, and arcade games over the internet is difficult, because your packets have latency and jitter. That's because they are competing will all kinds of email, IM, HTTP, FTP, and NTTP protocols as they move accross the network. To make low-latency interaction work better, we can either invest a lot to make the entire internet super-fast, or invest a little to recognize which packets need high speed, and bump them ahead of the lines.
      • Someday, your ISP will decide to charge you by the gigabyte. Won't you want to be able to request a reduced rate, by intstructing your software to request low-priority packets, instead of rapid-response ones? (This is analogous to last-minute airline tickets)


      Basically, there are only a few internet applications which really need low-latency response: speech, video, gaming, and maybe some forms of web browsing. Everything else, especially emails and big downloads over HTTP or FTP, would work absolutely fine with 10 or 100 times the per-packet latency.

      As long as there is a reasonable bound on how much faster a quick, expensive packet is than a slow, cheap one- say, not more that 100 times slower- QoS won't block any people out from using the internet, and it'll make it cheaper and easier for high-speed users to get going.
      • The Internet is for the most part IP (Internet Protocol). IP sends packets in the direction of a specified destination, UDP directs the packets at a certain port, and TCP/IP makes sure all packets arrive at their destination, in the proper order. HTTP uses TCP/IP to transfer text.

        The Internet is a way for data to get from one computer to another. Latency mostly comes from the protocols placed on top of IP, such as TCP. I don't think there is a good way to prioritize packets. And implementing such a system would require discarding the current IP, and all the supporting software, and probably a significant amount of hardware.

        I think what the article was trying to say is that most people, and especially business and government do not understand the nature of the Internet. To improve quality of service, the ISPs basically have to hold to existing open standards, provide a decent line in/out, and cut down on the extraneous garbage

        • Latency mostly comes from the protocols placed on top of IP, such as TCP.

          It's true that TCP adds a kind of latency when it stops to wait for a retransmission. But UDP messages on their own have a lot of latency. For most users, most of that latency comes from the first mile and last mile links (especially if they're on dialup).

          However, there are sources for latency deep inside the internet as well. Congestion. Actually, the most commonly damaging form of congestion is when someone else on your subnet is making a large download or streaming radio, and you want to run an interactive (VNC or SSH) session.

          A non-FIFO router protocol might help alleviate this. It could recognize that the 95% of packets beloning to a big download can afford to wait until the VNC user's mouse-updates have gotten through.

          I don't think there is a good way to prioritize packets.

          There might be. It could be as simple as a single bitflag for "normal/fast". We'll never know unless we try. And we can't try until packets have a way to indicate desired QoS (the IPv6 "flow label", for instance), and more importantly, users enjoy some financial benefit, however small, for selecting reduced priority for their data.

          Of course, there are other things which need to be fixed with the internet before it presents a fair place to test QoS. In particular, firewalls and NATs already block some of the applications which could best make use of QoS, so until they're removed, there'd be little point in doing the experiment.
          • There might be. It could be as simple as a single bitflag for "normal/fast". We'll never know unless we try.

            It's not as simple as that though; otherwise I would hack my protocol stack to stick 'fast' on all my packets. My ftp downloads will fly ;-).

            No. The only solution is to have some way of rationing of fast packets. I suspect a good way would be for the ISP to allow a certain percentage of your packets to be 'fast'. For example, allowing no more than the contention ratio of your pipe to be fast; either up or downstream. That way if you're rich- you buy a better contention ratio, and you can run all of your packets fast.

            One problem is what happens if somebody with a low ration of packets is talking to somebody with a high ration. Do you allow a 500kBit/s fat pipe to connect to a 50kBit/s thin, that is burstable to 500kBit/s? I think the answer is no- any packets that are above 50kBit/s should have been sent 'slow' and so would be thrown away by the ISP (I did consider dropping the priority down, but by the time it reaches the ISP, it has already used up the bandwidth of the ISP, but chucking packets away causes the sender to slow down due to the anticongestion algorithms in the IP protocol). The upstream guy with the 500kBit/s pipe should send 50kBit/s 'fast' and the other 450kBits/s 'slow' to avoid this problem. This would introduce problems to some protocols in some cases, but atleast there is a floor to the number of bits/second that can be carried, and both ends should be able to negotiate before they start.

            • It's not as simple as that though; otherwise I would hack my protocol stack to stick 'fast' on all my packets. My ftp downloads will fly

              I guess you skipped reading my post. It was all based on the ISP charging a higher fee for faster packets!

              Anyone who hacks his FTP client to request low latency will boost his usage charges, and recieve the total file in 24:36.67, instead of 24:38.12 for a normal connection (for one representative set of numerical assumptions). 1 whole second faster.

              If a user feels that's an acceptable use of money, fine.

              Also, when I used "fast packets" above, I was referring primarily to latency, which is different from bandwidth. You seem to be focusing on bandwidth, which is unrelated to QoS, and isn't what I was discussing. Here's a discussion about bandwidth vs latency [about.com], if you need a refresher.

              If an ISP allows QoS flags to indicate that some packets need improved latency, it doesn't have to change that user's bandwidth limits at all. Regardless of the latency setting, he can still only send 150kB/s (or whatever the speed is). But, these packets will "skip over the line" at routers on his ISP (and cooperating network providers, which eventually will be most of them). They will arrive at the destination in only 25 milliseconds, insteal of 100.

              That means if he's talking on the phone, or aiming a railgun at a gladiator, the response time for updates is 25% of what it had been. Yet the total data rate he can transmit remains the same.

              QoS for low-latency doesn't help FTP at all. Email, IM, HTTP, and audio streaming likewise recieve no benefit. There is no incentive to request QoS for those applications. Only a few uses- voice chat, remote desktop, and gaming- can get much benefit.

              • Anyone who hacks his FTP client to request low latency will boost his usage charges, and recieve the total file in 24:36.67, instead of 24:38.12 for a normal connection (for one representative set of numerical assumptions). 1 whole second faster.

                Not if the network is congested.

                I guess you skipped reading my post. It was all based on the ISP charging a higher fee for faster packets!

                So was mine. I just didn't find that 'your' idea is a good one. Charging per packet is expensive for the provider. Also if the incremental cost is low, then everyone will end up using high priority traffic all of the time, and then it makes no difference. If it's high, then people won't use it at all; and the breakeven point varies depending on the user, not on the nature of the service.

                Also, when I used "fast packets" above, I was referring primarily to latency, which is different from bandwidth.

                Yes. It's also different to jitter, which is normally about as important; probably more.

                You seem to be focusing on bandwidth, which is unrelated to QoS

                I don't know why you say that. A high priority packet system improves latency, bandwidth (particularly worse case bandwidth) and helps jitter.

                the response time for updates is 25% of what it had been. Yet the total data rate he can transmit remains the same.

                Not in the face of congestion it isn't. Also, it solves issues with timeouts- if high priority packets are permitted then the chances of a connection dying from congestion is much reduced, and may be negligable.

                QoS for low-latency doesn't help FTP at all. Email, IM, HTTP, and audio streaming likewise recieve no benefit. There is no incentive to request QoS for those applications.

                I don't agree. They all can benefit from a minimum guaranteed bandwidth/improved latency/improved jitter; especially audio streaming.

                Only a few uses- voice chat, remote desktop, and gaming- can get much benefit.

                Yeah right.

                • Not if the network is congested.

                  That is not the common case optimizations should be targeted for. Congested states should be rare- plan to avoid them, not discard other plans because they'd have flaws during it.

                  If a network gets overloaded in the face of FTP-like uses, then it needs to be upgraded, that's not disputed. (Otherwise, setting the priority flag won't help any individual once everyone starts to do it)

                  Networks designers should aim to leaving a portion of their bandwidth free in normal use. It's in situations with utilization of 30%-40% or so that QoS flags are really helpful. They'll insulate interactive streams from being disrupted by the occasional 3MB file download.

                  Simply going ahead and upgrading every single link to be high speed, high bandwidth- without an opportunity to differentiate price for different applications- will encourage users to saturate the lines. ("Leave streaming music videos on all night long? Why not?"). Then we're back to the case of the data which truely needs low-latency not getting it... and another expensive cycle of all-around upgrades begins again.

                  This is a "defense of the commons" problem. To allow the free market to automatically solve the problem of consumers requesting more than they need, we need a mechanism to allow some variation in price for using the service. With that capability in place, the Invisible Hand will choose an effective incremental cost.

                  In the future, paying internet users will be better off if they can be charged less for a 1 gigabyte music broadcast than for 1 gigabyte of videophone traffic. The latter application is more vulnerable to small changes in congestion, so it should be able to offer the network more money to protect it. Applications not needing that service shouldn't need to pay for it.

                  They all can benefit from a minimum guaranteed bandwidth/improved latency/improved jitter; especially audio streaming.

                  Audio streaming is the textbook example of a high bandwidth, high-latency application. Latency only matters if timeouts/ACKs are important, and they only matter if packets are being dropped. And if that's happening, it's a separate, major problem, which should be fixed on its own.
                  • That is not the common case optimizations should be targeted for. Congested states should be rare- plan to avoid them, not discard other plans because they'd have flaws during it.

                    Hey, let me introduce you. Real world meet Minna Kirai. Minna Kirai meet the real world. In the absence of congestion QOS is basically not an issue; you have great QOS- all of the queues are empty all the way. The whole point of QOS is to handle the network better when congestion occurs- the high priority packets need to see the network as empty even when the low priority packets are congested.

                    To allow the free market to automatically solve the problem of consumers requesting more than they need, we need a mechanism to allow some variation in price for using the service.

                    Free markets are unstable. We require stability in our network protocols.

                    • Minna Kirai meet the real world.

                      Networks have 3 states:
                      • Empty. 0% utilization. No need for QoS.
                      • Loaded. 10-50% util. Delays at intermediate routers cause packets to be slowed. QoS can help packets which need speed to achieve it.
                      • Congested. 60-90% util. Overflowing routers destroy many packets. QoS could mark some packets as less likely to be dropped, but for fairness, it shouldn't. Instead, router/link throughput should be upgraded, or incoming links throttled.


                      Free markets are unstable.

                      They are stabler than any other economic system yet attempted.

                      We require stability in our network protocols.

                      We don't have it today, yet are proceding swimmingly.
                    • Empty. 0% utilization. No need for QoS.

                      I assume you mean 0-10%; that's really my point though, in my view IP networks need to have entry controls to allow, up to say, 10% of the available to be high priority traffic. That way the high priority traffic sees an empty network, giving excellent latency, jitter and bandwidth, even in the face of congestion.

                      Free markets are unstable.

                      They are stabler than any other economic system yet attempted.

                      No, I hope I never see a truly free market; that way leads to Enron, robber barons and a tremendous amount of evil; businesses are essentially amoral (not immoral or moral); and yet we require a certain level of morality in our societies to survive and flourish. We need to impose morality on companies, even the trivial example of not continuing to trade whilst bankrupt.

                      Also, rules to stabilise situations are often beneficial. For example having a minimum percentage of assets as collateral against loans.

                      On the internet stability is very important; also morality (in a totally non religious sense) is critical for the internet to work.

        • The best thing to do is add capacity, so that fewer packets get queued. However, TCP will do it's level best to saturate any link, and will always force packets to be queued (or dropped) during ramp-up, unless the total transfer length is shorter than the integrated ramp-up time.
          What I propose is that short packets go to the head of the queue. If you're doing file transfer with TCP, you'll be using path MTU-sized packets, whereas if you're doing VoIP or telenet, your packets will be much smaller. Move the shortest packets to the head of the queue, and TCP will accommodate.
          • As an AC said, it is quite possible to alter software on your local machine and abuse "small packet preference". That would have the dual damages of breaking the intent of the system- but also, the smaller packets will increase the header:content ratio, bringing a greater percentage overhead onto the network.

            (There are techniques one could attempt to combat such abuse. Much experimentation has gone on in this area. For example, build routers with multiple layers of queues intended for packets of different sizes or priorities, so that lower priority packets have more total space, and are less likely to be dropped. That system might allow applications to work which are either high bandwdith or low latency, but not both)

            Additionally, some applications needing low-latency might still use big packets: videoconferencing, or something. (A VC protocol might tend to feel out the bandwidth available, using larger and larger packets until they start to be dropped, then stick with the large size).

            Existing TCP relies on some trust between users, so that one person doesn't hurt everyone else to speed himself up. The "short packet preference" idea is even more fragile that way. I'm not sure we can continue to rely on that in the future.
      • You're suggesting that by creating an environment that allows the (rich) decision makers to have a fast internet, without requiring the (poor) others to also have a fast internet, is going to make the internet better?

        Simple concept for you: If your structure resists preference, the rich will insist that it's good for everyone so it will be good for them. If your structure accomodates preference, the rich will insist that it's good for them.

        • Re:So... (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Minna Kirai ( 624281 )
          The very rich are almost always going to be better off than anyone else, that's unavoidable.

          If your structure resists preference, the rich will insist that it's good for everyone so it will be good for them.

          Or they'll just hire someone to build a completely separate structure. That'll deprive my structure of the resources they might've contributed to improving it.

          There is already a tendency for this today- large companies are transitioning their voice and videoconference systems on IP networks. But they often don't put it on the public internet, or even the same IP network their workers use for desktop applications- they actually fund separate networks just for their chat traffic.

          That kind of massive oversupply of bandwidth assures them that they'll have low latency connections when they need them- but they're not using them all the time. All those mighty routers sit quietly at night, helping neither their employees, nor the general public.

          If IP supported some kind of QoS tag, then these users might be able to meet the needs of real-time videoconferencing simply by spending $1000 to upgrade the routers on their LAN, rather than $10,000 to build a whole different network. And they'd reap many flexibility benefits.

          It's a "big tent" philosophy. The rich will want to spend money to go faster. The Internet can either find a way to take their money, or drive them away to build a competitor, which the poor won't be able to access at all.

          The fact is: not all packets need to be quick. For some applications, 3 seconds of delay is absolutely fine. For others, 3 milliseconds is unbearable.

          If the internet acknowledges this fact, it becomes a little more complicated, but much more powerful. And it wouldn't be a flag day [houghi.org] change- the upgrade can be piecemeal.

          (Today, some people already abuse the bandwidth-conserving principles of TCP and HTTP to accelerate their own transmissions, at the expensive of everybody else. QoS tags would provide a legitimate way to do this, without interfering with other packets so much)
    • Maybe they discovered the old "slashdot math" sigs.
  • excellent. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    the public needs to be made aware of these important facts about the Internet, and how being end-to-end and "dumb" is where its value lies.
  • There's another reason the Internet hasn't done a great job explaining itself: The Big Money would prefer to keep telling us the Net is just slow TV.

    Does anyone really consider the internet to be just slow TV? I thought that idea went out 3 years ago. Even my grandparents are googling for information when they have a medical problem or want more info about something they saw on TV. They do not think of the Internet as slow TV.

  • by Sgs-Cruz ( 526085 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:52PM (#5460403) Homepage Journal
    Despite this article's annoying use of absolutes (I know, I know, they're effective, but I hate it when people write an article as if its the last thing that will ever be written on that subject), they're mostly right. Think about it. We can do more on the Net now than 5 years ago, despite the best efforts of the RIAA, MPAA, US Govt, and pretty much every corporate interest out there. I have a feeling this will continue into the future, too.
  • by stonebeat.org ( 562495 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:53PM (#5460414) Homepage
    seriously :)
  • by haplo21112 ( 184264 ) <haplo AT epithna DOT com> on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:53PM (#5460416) Homepage
    Someone talking about the internet and actually making sense doing it....we can't have that!

    Someone who realizes that it is what it is and can't be bent to everyone and their brothers whims...

    My thought has always been that the Internet is Chaos and it works best that way....
  • by CoolVibe ( 11466 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:54PM (#5460428) Journal
    The Internet is stupid

    Well, I tend to disagree. It tends to make people stupid though, and it's hellishly smart at that as well. Just look at this place :-)

    • The Internet is stupid. Well, I tend to disagree. It tends to make people stupid though, and it's hellishly smart at that as well. Just look at this place :-)

      It doesn't make people stupid, it just allows them to shine a spotlight on their own stupidity for the world to see.

  • by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:57PM (#5460448) Journal
    No, you're stupid, you big stupid!

    Signed,
    The Internet

    PS: I'm rubber you're glue
  • by cindy ( 19345 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:57PM (#5460458)
    "That's also why the Internet feels to so many of us like a natural resource."

    ...which explains why so many would like to strip mine it without regard for the future or for the rights or best interests of others.

  • Hmmm... (Score:4, Funny)

    by natron 2.0 ( 615149 ) <ndpeters79NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday March 07, 2003 @01:00PM (#5460489) Homepage Journal
    I wonder if Al Gore realized this when he invented it...

  • by urbazewski ( 554143 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @01:05PM (#5460550) Homepage Journal
    Great article --- I tried to make some of the same arguments (and didn't do as good of a job) several years ago in response to proposals being put forward academic economists to "improve" the allocation of bandwidth with complicated pricing schemes and "smart markets". The efficiency fetish common amongst economists blinded them to the real strengths of the protocol --- stupidity, flexibility and reliability. (Alas, the NSF didn't bite on the funding, and I moved on to other unrelated projects.)

    We had a great working title for the project though:

    The Internet: Triumph of the Commons.

  • Excellent Article (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MojoRilla ( 591502 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @01:06PM (#5460556)
    This reminds me why the original MSN failed and Yahoo succeeded. Microsoft wanted to control the content providers (making them use its own proprietary tools), while yahoo used HTTP and HTML.

    Sure, absolute control might mean they can offer more features, but absolute control also means everyone can't play. The file format of Microsoft Word was closed, and so it is hard to write programs which understand it. Microsoft gets richer, but users can't get their own data. Finally, when Microsoft sees there is no other big driver to get users to upgrade, they open up their file formats.

    The internet succeeded because of its simplicity, and because of HTML and HTTP. Almost anyone can serve HTTP. And write some sort of HTML. The protocols are simple and well documented.
  • by argoff ( 142580 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @01:11PM (#5460599)

    A lot of people thought that the whole purpose of the industrial revolution was to use inventions like the cotton-gin to expand their plantations for unlimited controll and profits. While most people saw the invention as a great tool to end slavery, for others it was impossible to think of wealth in any other terms other than the size of a plantation, a farm, or estates. These people pushed slavery controlls to the point of civil war and were responsible for the deaths of millions.

    I think today we have the same problem with "intellectual properties". It is impossible for people to think of wealth in any other terms than the number and amount of industires and people they can extract royalties from. It is impossible for them to understand that properties are not just about government edicts, or personal incentive, but natural forces - like everyone not being able to use the same thing at the same time. Well, with information - they can. And that is the real value of the internet.

  • by watzinaneihm ( 627119 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @01:13PM (#5460616) Journal
    In manager speak value=money.

    From rule 6 and 4 , money moves to suburbs and adding value to internet lowers its value. So the suburbs have real low value. Now rule 5 says All of internets money grows on its edges, again edges=suburbs . So rule 4 and 6 together contradict rule 5.

    So if all these rules hold at once, Internet is real complicated, hence rule 1: "Internet is simple" is false.
    So only rule 2 holds :"Internet is stupid".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 07, 2003 @01:15PM (#5460637)

    The "attempting to add value decreases the value" theme was very well explored in a paper called "Rise of the Stupid Network." It's at: http://www.rageboy.com/stupidnet.html [rageboy.com]

    It explains very well why networks should only get data from one place to another while doing nothing else.

    A coworker just bet me it would be less than an hour before this post was marked as a troll since I'm an unregistered user. I think it will be marked as a flame, because it's on-topic.

  • by Joe the Lesser ( 533425 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @01:18PM (#5460670) Homepage Journal
    Dumb companies will get smart or die. Stupid laws will be killed or replaced.

    I'd really like to believe this, but then I look at corporate welfare(often the saving of dumb companies) and I look at the laws being passed by people completing out of touch(Napster's not a glamorized FTP program! It's criminal, not sharing!(Or maybe sharing is criminal!))

    It's kind of depressing.
  • The Internet is actually a thing. It's clearly defined in technical terms. They (the authors of that exposition) are blurring the boundaries between the technical and the sociological when they describe TCP/IP the way they do, for example. Yeah, IP is an agreement; hell, so is SSL. So is a file format. A technical protocol is a technical agreement, not a philosophical one.

    If they (and other pundits) want to start discussing the sociological, philosophical and economic impacts of the Internet on society, then they should coin a new term for it. The Internet is precisely what it is - a technical construct. The societal impacts of it are something else entirely, and ought not to be also called The Internet.

    Sorry for getting irritated. Slow burn over many months with the self-important and self-indulgent pronouncements of pretentious people.

  • From the Article:

    [[snip]] "Stupid is sturdy." [[/snip]]

    Well, that certainly explains my geeky lack of anything resembling musclemass..

  • "To make the internet right...."

    "...First you must go left, that's what you were going to say, wasn't it?"

    "Not necessarily..."

  • Much as I hate it (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gr8_phk ( 621180 )
    I always thought the "information highway" analogy was most accurate. The net is simply a way to get your data from here to there. This makes it clear that the only way to make money from the net is in construction/materials (think Cisco) but like road construction I can pay anyone that knows how to do that. Or put up a toll booth, bu notice how many real roads don't have em because people take other routes. It's like infrastructure - everyone uses it, but it's not a business in itself. Get a clue, provide something of value and people will give you money for it. And remember, what used to be of value may not be today.
  • Cluetrain Reprise (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mrkurt ( 613936 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @01:46PM (#5460992) Journal

    This site is a reprise of some of the themes that were in their book from a few years ago, The Cluetrain Manifesto. It is still available online [cluetrain.com]. I think of the internet as a kind of infrastructure that nobody owns, like a highway. The potential perils are of a takeover of large companies that want to make you carry p(Assports) or "pay tolls" to cross into certain parts of it. They are the ones who, in the words of the book, believe in "engorging people with material goods so as to make them poop out dollars". The internet has another potential that is not so crassly commercial: for self-expression, for the acquisition of knowledge, to be able to connect with others wherever concerning almost anything. People have the ability to turn away from the crassly commercial, if they choose to see something else of value besides what the popular culture puts before them.

  • by TFloore ( 27278 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @01:53PM (#5461080)
    Under #10...
    The federal agency responsible for allocating spectrum might notice that the value of open spectrum is the same as the true value of the Internet.

    I almost read that as advocating unregulated spectrum. Then I read it again, in context of the article, and noticed "open" instead of "unregulated."

    He's advocating defined regulated spectrum available for anyone to use. Regulate basic protocols for transmissions in certain bands, but don't restrict who can use those bands. If you use band X, you will transmit in method Y. What content you transmit is up to you.

    Unregulated airwaves are bad, because they lead to interference and "my transmitter is bigger than yours, so I win." And everybody loses from that. But "only licensed broadcasters are allowed" also tends to have more losers than winners.

    Or at least, that's how I read that part.
  • If I can make the people I work with understand this -- really understand it -- I will count it as a good deed done for the day.

    In spite of mounting legal and technical threats and restrictions, the genie is in fact out of the bottle. While the US and US companies still play a big role in the Internet, its the INTER (as in international) that really gives it legs. Intel and microsoft cannot control this phenomina, nor can US law.

    The internet is Infrastructure. When it is mature it will openly support communities of interest and dynamic trading networks. There will be parts that are open and parts that are closed, and the bi-directional nature of the channels it creates will inexorably lead to the decentralization of creation, production and consumption of both physical and metaphysical products.

    Companies and people are either going to operate under this understanding or eventually be marginalized. Thanks to the authors here, I've got some more ammunition to get my collegues to come along to the better side of the divide.
    • ...the Internet, its the INTER (as in international) that really gives it legs.

      Actually the inter comes from inter-networking, as in, networking between networks or network of networks.

      One of the first books about the nity-grity details of the Internet I read was Douglas Comer's Internetworking with TCP/IP (Volumes I, II, and III) [purdue.edu]. He did a 4th edition of Volume I and III (Linux/POSIX) for 2000, which I can still recommend for those looking for good technnical understanding of the internet and TCP/IP. See Danny's review of Volume I, 2nd ed. [dannyreviews.com] if you want a second opinion.

      • I know that the INTER in the term actually stands for inter-networking. You're technically correct. But unlike any old internet, The Internet is global, from whence it draws it's awe-inspiring promise and capability.
    • ...its the INTER (as in international) that really gives it legs.

      Amen. I used to cringe when people would say "No one owns the Internet". While it may be true that no single person/entity owns it, it is also true that there are people/groups that have a lot more control over how it is used than most of us (telecoms who own the wires, governments who control what's legal, etc.).

      But, its global nature and the evolution of wireless technology give me hope that, no matter how restrictive the telcos and governments get, there will always be someone to create an antenna out of a pringles can [slashdot.org] to bypass those limits.

  • Clicked on that damned footnote 4 times before I realized the point. Sheesh!

    "The Internet, on the other hand, is stupid.1 [worldofends.com]"
  • Our concept of economics is changing. Yes, i realise that this opens up whole debates and may seem off topic. But my argument- rambling as it is- goes like this: People are starting to realise that for capitalism (or any economic system) to work, both individuals and corporate entities have to recognise that we're all in this together. You poison the well, and we're all screwed.

    this change is happening faster because of the internet. You have, suddenly, a place where you take away all the extra bells and whistles of society, and guess what? idiots look like idiots, geniuses surface, and the people who work to make something that everybody can use make a profit. Microsoft, well, all i can say is that they'll learn. No empire lasts forever. And this is only a beginning shift in common paradigm. Here in the US we see it happening with healthcare reform, with all sorts of things, and the internet is one example that STARTED with that concept, rather than ending up with it. The internet was not created as an idyllic file-transfer virtual world. It's always a big shock to those late night chatters to realise that the person they've been idealising is, in fact, a real person in the real world and has been all along. But that's how it is: the internet, far from being more of the same playing field, is wreaking havic with the American economic system not merely because it doesn't work the same (you can block ads, you can write your own content) but because it involves a much clearer version of the message that's already making energy companies, proprietary software and media companies, and so on very uncomfortable. Poison the well, and your market dries up.
    The moral of this story is: we already knew this. Later, if enough people catch on so that we can hook up computers and smirk about it, we can say we were here for it.
    And on a side note... as far as being a hippie-ish concept goes, well- yes. They got together, traded stories and 'mind-expanders', and if you think for a minute they wouldn't have copied every single morrison riff down on a file-swapper, you're crazy. They didn't necessarily have all the right ideas, but there's a reason why corporations are developing a conscience, and that's partly because consumers are demanding one.

    oke, this is me stepping off the soapbox now. But this really gave me thoughtfodder, and i'm going to post a copy of it in hard copy where some unsuspecting technologically primitive friends will read it. They might set fire to it, but they'll read it first... (i hope...)

  • From the article:

    True, only a sixth of the world - a mere 600,000,000+ people - currently connects to the Internet.

    Last I checked [census.gov], that was about a tenth of the world population, not a sixth. Apparently, the Internet has not improved our math skills.

  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @03:12PM (#5461806) Homepage
    Nobody can control it... it isn't owned by anyone... you can add value to it anyway you like... there's no way big corporations could come in and fence it off.

    Radio started out the same way as the Internet. Most of the really old radio stations in the U. S. are college stations because it was universities that did so much of the pioneering. By the mid-thirties, commercial interests had pretty well grabbed control of most of it.
    • Those are good points, but there is a much lower barrier to entry in the internet, so it's easier for smaller players to have a voice. Not that that will necessarily save anything, just a place where the analogy needs to be examined.

      The real problem is what the majority of people value/pay attention to, really. Radio wouldn't be overtaken with crap if everyone quit listening to and buying the crap. That's what's great about America--unlike the Iraqi people, we can change what's going on here. It's sad that we do not choose to do it (I mean the big We, all of America), but it is at least hopeful that it is still possible for us to do something about it.

      Maybe one day we will.
  • by rdmiller3 ( 29465 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @03:30PM (#5461976) Journal
    As much as I'd love to hear of a good, clear article explaining the Internet to the likes of managers, this certainly wasn't it.

    What manager is going to make it through even the intro? Should we expect managers to grasp whom "Alpha Dinosaurs" was meant to indicate?

    Adding value decreases value. Now, there's something that the proud holder of an MBA will understand, eh?

    It's just a rant. It's neither educational nor persuasive for the intended audience.

    -Rick

  • Adding value to the Internet lowers its value.

    Sorry, but that sounds like something that would have been said by somebody from the dot-com era who "gets it".

  • ...except for the torchbearing done for the AIP movement. I mean, the Internet is open, the Internet is free, therefore IP is invalid and we should be able to trade copyrighted music. I just don't follow the logic there.

    It's just a riff on the old "we can't stop bullies from picking on little kids so it must be right" argument. Yes. The music traders are the bullies, not the other way around like so many on /. would like to believe.

    Of course I agree that modifying the internet is not the way to address copyright infringement; but I got the impression that the author was going beyond that and saying the infringement was a good thing. I hope that's not what he meant to say.

"An ounce of prevention is worth a ton of code." -- an anonymous programmer

Working...