--On Monday, 04 October, 2004 18:33 +0200 Eliot Lear
You know, Spencer. We *had* a king for a VERY long time, and
it was Jon Postel as RFC Editor and IANA. And somehow we
survived. While Jon was around somehow a vast plethora of
standards got vetted, not the least of which were IP, TCP,
UDP, ICMP, SMTP, FTP, SMTP, NNTP and DNS. I agreed with some
of his decisions and disagreed with others. Probably the same
would be true with Tim Berners Lee.
Actually, Eliot, Jon had great powers of persuasion and
influence based on technical skill, knowledge, accomplishments,
and contributions. He has little formal authority wrt the
standards process, and a huge amount of sense about not trying
to intervene in areas where he lacked knowledge and competence.
And I never saw any symptoms of, e.g., "because I am the
occupant of the RFC Editor chair I have certain 'rights'".
From where I sit, that is a effective and appropriate style of
leadership in an organization like the IETF.
In this context, my precise objection to what is going on now
rests on a comparison with that style of leadership. Jon's
style involved persuasion, logic, facts, and trying to
understand the point of view of those with whom he disagreed.
Like you, I disagreed with some of his positions and decisions,
and I found him quite stubborn when he thought he was right (not
always a bad trait), but I could almost always end up
understanding his point of view. By contrast, we are now seeing
a different style of position-taking and decision-making, one
that terrifies me. The new style involves assertions of the
"rights" of the people who occupy IESG and IAB seats (because
they are in those seats) instead of explanation and openness
with the community about details and options, and involves
(virtually) shouting "wrong" instead of engaging in discussion
The comparison to W3C is really not fair, because they are
organized along different principles. But, at the beginning,
Tim could unilaterally either establish a recommendation or kill
a proposal, could do so without giving an explanation, and was
_expected_ to exercise the design judgment that implied. That
is very different from the way the IETF has traditionally worked.
But you missed my point. Don't like the IETF or the W3C? Try
the TMF or the DMTF or the ITU or the GGF or the IEEE or roll
your own (everyone else has ;-).
Sigh. Some of us have dedicated a rather large portion of our
lives over the last decade or so to both trying to get some
technical work done in the IETF and to keeping it productive in
terms of producing high-quality, timely, well-documented,
standards. Some of us are even deluded enough to believe that
the process problems we see today are aberrations that can be
corrected by explaining the problems and their implications to
both the community and the leadership and calling for a
different way to do things (or a return to most of the old way).
Even though it increasingly feels like a losing battle and a
waste of energy to try, I'd much rather see those who believe in
leadership by either royal authority or strength of personality,
in voting, and in membership structures go somewhere else. And
I have the odd delusion that a fairly significant fraction of
those who do the technical work around here prefer openness and
consensus processes around here to having their comments
dismissed with "WRONG".
You have made contributions around here. If someone disagrees
with you, would you prefer an exploration of the differences in
perspectives or an assertion of "rights" and then being told
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