I remember Bill Clinton describing trying to develop an Internet
standard like 'nailing jello to the wall'.
Actually he said that trying to censor the Internet was like trying to
nail jello to the wall. See the press release from the U.S. Embassy in
China where he made the remark in the context of the Great Firewall of
With hindsight, and knowing the many ways in which people have subverted
the Great Firewall he was quite right. In the IETF context, I think it
proves the rule of "be conservative about what you send, be liberal
about what you accept" because the jello comes from the way people
actually use IETF technology in the real world.
The IETF is incapable of designing a solution to a problem. We can only
design protocols which create possibilities for the real solution
designers to leverage. Engineers like to have end-to-end control of a
problem in order to design end-to-end solutions but that is often not
possible in the real world, and especially not possible when your work
is restricted to the vicinity of layer 3.
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