Reply to post: Asia home to just ten per cent of respondents

IETF rates itself 'minimally acceptable' on key measures of community, efficacy

Warm Braw

Asia home to just ten per cent of respondents

It's a while now since I've been to the IETF and my attendance was always as a "non-combatant". It inevitably reflects the priorities and the culture of the companies (principally US companies) that find attendance pays dividends exceeding the cost of fees, travel and accommodation. However, the IETF's role is not entirely passive - it has made efforts to diversify the location of meetings and I was at the first non-US meeting in Amsterdam as far back as 1993 - but it has nevertheless clung to its US-centricity. It was always seen as the strength of the IETF that it had no particular mandate to represent anyone other than those who turn up at the meetings and therefore that it could "get things done" unlike those cumbersome national standards bodies that demanded a stake in the outcome even in the absence of an IT industry of their own. The price of getting things done, though, was that international considerations were often a grudging afterthought.

The climate in which the IETF thrived has changed. Computer use is no longer a majority US (or indeed Western) phenomenon. The Internet is no longer under the de facto funding of Western educational institutions. And, of course, we've just been through a difficult period that has proved that the technology we have assiduously been developing is a productive substitute for meetings in person. I don't see that the IETF in its present form has much more to contribute: it has no official status and the interested parties have no dependence on it for their continued collaboration. If you're a group of predominantly Chinese firms wanting to come up with a uniform approach to a technical problem what value does the IETF provide?

Organising physical meetings for the world to discuss technical problems in English seems peculiarly anachronistic in a age of remote working and machine translation.

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