InfoWorld Column on Netcom-Cisco Ampersand Collapse

Perry E. Metzger perry at
Tue Jul 9 17:28:58 UTC 1996

Bob Metcalfe writes:
> By the way, Mr. Huegen, the well-known fact that the Internet offers no
> service guarantees has not, as you've written, escaped me.  This well-known
> fact is one of those we are working to FIX.

No, you aren't working to fix anything. Your work usually known as
"yellow journalism", which is a distinctly different field from any of
the professions where people produce things. The NANOG types are the
ones working hard to fix things.

You make fun of people like Huegen for pointing out that you
constantly have factual errors in your articles, like misattributing
slogans, quotes, and affiliations. You drip sarcasm when people point
out these errors, as though you shouldn't be humilliated by them. Any
honest journalist who had gone through a decent education would feel
ashamed of even small factual errors. The fact that you have no fact
checkers to clear even the simplest details from your missives and
that you make fun of the suggestion that you are prone to error
demonstrates your overall contempt for your adopted profession. An
article in the Journal or the Times would never contain such errors,
and editors would feel contrite, not belligerent, if errors were

You aren't, of course, a journalist. You are a man on a vendetta. The
NANOG participants insulted you, and now you are going to "show them",

Lets keep the facts in mind.  The Internet is very young. In spite of
this, it works almost all the time, and reliability statistics keep
getting better and better. The net is far more reliable than the phone
or electrical systems were at the same point in their development --
it is even more reliable than the phone and electrical systems are in
most of the countries on earth.

I don't think there has been any internet failure as big as the AT&T
phone system failure of seven years back. There also hasn't been an
internet failure as big as the blackout that hit half the west a
couple of weeks ago. However, lets say ocassionally problems as bad as
have happened on in the phone network or electric power grid
occur. How unexpected! How shocking! Engineers working on a new
technology making mistakes, and learning from them! The world must be
coming to an end.

Of course, we should ignore that, and put Bob Metcalfe in charge of
the internet. He'll make sure that people in neckties make all the
technical decisions -- he has opinied that the problem is the lack of
neckties -- and that way, as any reader of Dilbert can tell you, no
problems will ever occur again.


More information about the NANOG mailing list