My InfoWorld Column About NANOG

Doug Tooley dltooley at
Sat Jun 22 16:39:39 UTC 1996

So, Mr. Metcalfe:

Is it the case that anyone who disagrees with you is a flamer?

Tisk tisk....


On Fri, 21 Jun 1996, Bob Metcalfe wrote:

> Dear NANOG List,
> Thanks for your critiques of my NANOG meeting critique column in InfoWorld.
> Below is a copy of a draft (before editing) of the offending column, just
> in case some of you have been reading only one another's critiques instead
> of the column itself.  Of course I stand by it.
> Some of you guys/gals are very good at ad hominem attacks.  Flaming is
> alive and well on the Internet.  Tisk tisk.  But then I asked for it.
> Anyway, the attention is flattering.  Thank you.
> A few of you missed one point at least.  I am NOT suggesting that any of
> YOU start wearing suits, especially if you find them uncomfortable, or that
> they make a statement you are not willing to make -- none of that, no --
> good engineers are too valuable to overdress.  I am suggesting that more of
> the kind of people who ALREADY wear suits should start paying attention to
> the important work NANOG is attempting and start attending your meetings so
> they can pitch in on the non-engineering aspects of operating the Internet.
> Is that clearer now?
> By the way, there are reports from two days ago that 400,000 people lost
> their Internet access for 13 hours.  Sounds like an outage approaching
> "collapse."  Was that just a Netcom thing that NANOG has no interest in?
> Netcom is not talking very much about what happened.  Any clues/facts out
> there?  Were any NAPs involved?
> /Bob Metcalfe, InfoWorld
> ----------------------
> InfoWorld / From the Ether / Bob Metcalfe
> NANOG Meeting Column
> The North American Network Operations Group (NANOG) remains our best bet
> for managing through the Internet's coming collapses.  Problem is, like the
> Internet, NANOG itself is struggling to scale up.
>     I've just been among the 350 mostly engineers attending NANOG's May
> meeting at George Washington University.  It's clear now, even if they hate
> the idea, that if NANOG is to lead us toward an industrial-strength
> Internet, then it must now urgently attract the active participation of
> many more men and women who routinely wear suits.
>     Here, on April Fool's Day, I nominated NANOG as that organization best
> positioned to lift the Internet out of its current, disfunctional
> operations anarchy.  I then incorrectly identified NANOG as part of the
> Internet Society's Internet Engineering and Planning Group (IEPG), a
> seemingly defunct sister of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).
> Turns out I was wrong about what I'd read on the Web at
>     For the next two weeks postings on NANOG's message archive flamed me
> for not knowing that NANOG is moderated by the Merit Network at the
> University of Michigan (  NANOG, I was told, has
> nothing to do with the Internet Society.  And further, the Internet Society
> has nothing to do anymore with the IETF.
>     Checking with a pal at the Society, I was told that IETF has been
> arguing about disassociating from the Internet Society, and, oh by the way,
> Merit is "irrelevant."
>     Yes, I found pettiness and bureaucratic infighting among the groups I
> had hoped would be pulling the Internet together.  I stand corrected, but
> not reassured.
>    Back at NANOG, I was surrounded by people whose life is about "running
> code."  I twiddled as these mostly engineers, unaccustomed as they are to
> public speaking, stood up one by one in front of 350 people without having
> ever tried their slides on GWU's projection system.  We all waited while
> Windows booted.  If you have running code, it seems, you don't have to
> respect your audience by checking your slides at least once in advance.  Or
> by wearing a suit.
>     NANOG's opening presentations on "The State of the Internet" were given
> by the four Network Access Points (NAPs).  Pacific Bell
> (http://www.PacBell.COM/Products/NAP), Sprint
> (, Ameritech
> (, and MFS Datanet
> ( each showed how very connected they are to
> various of the big Internet Service Providers (ISPs).  They are installing
> new equipment to meet ramping demand, are operating well below capacity,
> and are not losing even a single Internet packet ever, they said.
>     Then came the three large Network Service Providers (NSPs).  Sprint,
> ANS (, and MCI ( each
> showed, after some Macintosh booting, that they are installing new
> equipment to meet ramping demand, are operating well below capacity, and
> are not losing even a single Internet packet ever, they said.
>     Then the fit hit the shan.  Various earnest young speakers from Merit
> stood up one by one to report "alarming" statistics from the Internet --
> rapidly increasing packet loss rates and routing instabilities
> (  They asked the NAPs
> and NSPs, "Where are so many packets being lost?"
>     "Somewhere else," came the denial.
>     Then followed an afternoon and another morning of pleadings.  For
> standards on traffic measurements.  For regular outage reporting.  For
> cooperation on gathering topological information to use in Internet
> operations management.  For streamlining multilateral "peering agreements"
> among ISPs.  For systematic use of an Internet Routing Registry.  And, from
> an actual Internet user, pleadings for cooperation on end-to-end service
> measurements.
>     Sadly, there was nobody at NANOG with the organizational sophistication
> to grab hold of these pleadings and accelerate them toward action.  So,
> hey, I've got an idea, let's ask the business executives to whom current
> attendees of NANOG report to buy some T-shirts and take over.  The Internet
> needs more than running code.
>     Now, what would happen if some of NANOG's big university, NAP, and NSP
> regulars showed up among the many small commercial ISPs expected August
> 8-10 at ONE ISPCON in San Francisco?  I'll be summarizing there.  See
> or call 800-933-6038.
> ______________________________________________
> ______________________________________________
> Dr. Robert M. ("Bob") Metcalfe
> Executive Correspondent, InfoWorld and
> VP Technology, International Data Group
> Internet Messages: bob_metcalfe at
> Voice Messages: 617-534-1215
> Conference Chairman for
> ACM97: The Next 50 Years of Computing
> San Jose Convention Center
> March 1-5, 1997
> ______________________________________________
> ______________________________________________

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