[Nanog-futures] New Membership-WG Draft

Steve Gibbard scg at gibbard.org
Fri Oct 29 21:02:52 UTC 2010

On Oct 27, 2010, at 5:32 PM, Joe Provo wrote:

>> 2) I'm not sure how happy I am to see student memberships gone.  I like 
>> the idea that a student could pay a reduced fee to be a member, yes I do 
>> realize that the student can still attend the meeting without membership. 
> I'll be more firm; I'm not happy. 

This seems like a fairly fundamental question of vision to me.

I find NANOG useful in its current form.  People who are involved in operating some important networks show up and talk about stuff.  I learn things from the presentations, and even more from the hallway conversations.  I make contacts that are useful for other discussions.

But if that's all NANOG will ever be, I will find that rather sad.  It will seem like quite a missed opportunity.

I hear a lot of grousing, at NANOG meetings and elsewhere, about the quality of network engineering education -- about academic researchers who are doing network research without any idea what the problems that need solving are, and about students who are coming into their first network engineering jobs with educational backgrounds in classful IPv4 and RIP.  In various workplaces, I've seen people using designs and operational practices that would have been recognized as non-optimal by more experienced network operators, many of whom make up the membership at NANOG.  What I don't see right now is any effective conduit of information between NANOG and the educational community, or NANOG and the beginner operators who never come to meetings, that might have a chance of solving those issues.

We have the opportunity here to position NANOG as a professional organization of network operators.  We already do most of what such an organization would do -- we run the industry's conferences, we host the industry's mailing lists, etc.  It's not a huge stretch to go from that to having a group that works on approved educational curricula, or a group that works on best current practices documents -- things we can actually point at when telling colleges to teach more modern networking protocols, or advising junior engineers on how to set up their networks.

If we go down that path, the student memberships become important, and the regular memberships become important for something other than voting.  Even with minimal membership requirements, being able to say "I am a member of NANOG" can be a way to say "I care about being a member of this industry."  Student memberships would be a way to make students feel welcomed, like they're supposed to be here.  If we can set the expectation that serious students of networking are expected to be members of NANOG and have some role in the organization, rather than merely accepting students as members or giving them a discount, that gives students an extra push towards learning something from the industry veterans.  

That's the sort of vision that would have me feeling good about all the work that went into spinning up NewNOG Inc., rather than just feeling like we've been through a lot of administrative drudgery.

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