It did indeed seem that the significant majority of
time was spent 'viewing presentations/tutorials',
while the WG chairs frequently employed RED/discard
on the folks that occupied the queues at the
microphones in order to more promptly begin the
next tutorial and finish within the alloted time.
This is unfortunate, as the main idea behind meeting
is to hash out design issues, not to get overly
verbose presentations that typically aren't required
by those that read the drafts.
Some compare/contrast about then and now, followed by
some (perhaps radical) thoughts to ponder. I'm NOT interested
in quibbles about the timeframe for THEN or minor differences
in perception about either THEN or NOW, so I'll ignore any
troll-like responses. This is intended as a very high-level
set of comments -- high-level necessarily implies a certain
lack of crispness.
- Presentations at IETF normally did NOT rehash
material available in the I-Ds in tutorial style.
- Viewgraphs were hand-scribbled the night before,
often after some lobby bof before the meeting.
- More people read the I-Ds before the meeting, though there
was griping about inadequate preparation then also.
- Working Group sessions actually did work, designing
in real-time, discussing technical issues in real-time,
resolving open technical issues in a higher bandwidth
- Interim WG meetings were rare.
- Folks who had read the drafts could generally get into
and participate in meetings of interest.
- Presentations mostly do rehash material in the I-Ds
- Viewgraphs with fancy cartoon graphics, company logos,
that required lots of time to create the week before
the meeting are shown.
- Few people (as a percentage of WG attendees) have actually
read the I-Ds beforehand, relying instead on the presentations.
- Working Group sessions are mostly educational overviews,
without significant real-time discussion or resolution
of technical issues.
- Interim WG meetings are much more frequent, in part
because only people deeply interested in the topic
bother to travel for such meetings.
- Folks who have read the drafts often cannot get into
the meetings they have prepared for. I had abysmal luck
at actually attending sessions where I had read the drafts
and am actually involved in implementation or use of
In the short term, IETF have signed contracts for
3 meetings per year. We don't want to break any existing
contracts. What we can do for future IETFs is make the current
sporadic practice of reserving the front few rows of seats for
folks who have actually read the drafts and are involved in
implementation. We can also end the de facto practice of
using the sessions as tutorials and discontinue fancy prepared
presentations of the material already in the I-Ds. While
tutorials are a fine thing, they are appropriate for USENIX
or Interop, not IETF WG sessions, IMHO.
However, I'd like to propose that we experiment
with only having 2 all-area IETF meetings per year when we
can do so without breaking any contracts.
Further, I'd suggest that each area would have the
option (discretion of the relevant ADs) of having a single
Area Meeting someplace. This would last only perhaps 2 days.
It could be held at a rather larger number of venues
(due to smaller attendance) -- a college/university or large
corporate location might well be a very good choice for such
a meeting. In addition, WGs ought to be encouraged to hold
at least one WG interim meeting per year, to provide a vehicle
for meaty discussion of technical issues by folks who are
current in the WG, involved in implementation or deployment
of that WG's material, and so forth.