[flashback] Dern response to Metcalfe critique of Dern 'net collapse?' piece (fwd)

Paul Ferguson ferguson at cisco.com
Tue Mar 9 01:20:26 UTC 1999


Just a reminder, folks -- the Internet is still here. Has anything
really changed? Hmmm.

See you in Eugene.


- paul

>Date: Fri, 30 Aug 1996 20:43:23 -0400 (EDT)
>From: "J.D. Falk" <jdfalk at cyberNOTHING.org>
>To: nanog at merit.edu
>Subject: Dern response to Metcalfe critique of Dern 'net collapse?' piece (fwd)
>X-US-Congress: Moronic fucks.
>Organization: cyberNOTHING.org: Because nothing is cooler when it's cyber.
>Sender: owner-nanog at merit.edu
>	Both NANOG and the Internet Press Guild talking about some of the
>same things...what fun!
>	BTW, the IPG is at 'http://www.netpress.org/ipg/'.  We'll be
>forming a public list for discussion of coverage of the net in major
>media, sorta like alt.internet.media-coverage used to be. 
>---------- Forwarded message ----------
>Date: Thu, 29 Aug 1996 00:47:04 -0400
>From: Daniel P Dern <ddern at world.std.com>
>Reply-To: ipg-l at netpress.org
>To: ipg-l at netpress.org
>Subject: (Belated fwd) Dern response to Metcalfe critique of Dern 'net    collapse?' piece
>Resent-Date: Thu, 29 Aug 1996 00:49:41 -0400
>Resent-From: ipg-l at netpress.org
>   Internet Predicts Overloading of Bob Metcalfe (.GIF at 11)
>    (as told to Daniel P. Dern <ddern at world.std.com, www.dern.com>)
>   --------------------------------------------------------------------
>                 Copyright (c) 1996 Daniel P. Dern
>   [ Copyleft (cl) - Permission granted to redistribute free ONLY to 
>   free-for-access online forums, sites and such (including mailing 
>   lists), and only so long as my byline, copyright and this disclaimer 
>   are included.  Anyone else interested, contact me. -dpd ] 
>   --------------------------------------------------------------------
>{What has gone before: <read this in Italics if you got 'em> 
>   I had a front-page article in the July 1 issue of InfoWorld, on the 
>   every-popular topic "is the Internet collapsing."   Bob Metcalfe 
>   responded to it, with, "Internet Intelligentsia Stands on Credos, Not 
>   Facts", in the same issue (p.75, opposite my final 'graphs).  Here is 
>   my response to Metcalfe's response; Bob, this constitutes the other 
>   shoe finally dropping :-)  </Italics if you had 'em> -dpd} 
>AUGUST 1996 (shortly after lunch) -- If you've been following the 
>cybernatterings of cyberluminary Bob Metcalfe during the past half-year 
>or so (or past two years in Internet dog years), in his InfoWorld "From 
>The Ether" column, or elsewhere in various speeches, articles, 
>interviews, and online postings, you're probably well aware that Dr. 
>Metcalfe is concerned about the Internet.  
>In fact, he's convinced that the Internet is overloaded to the point 
>where it will soon collapse.  Why he doesn't suggest the Internet take 
>two aspirins, go to bed, and Internet-phone him in the morning I don't 
>know -- perhaps he's not that kind of doctor.  But he's definitely 
>It is therefore highly ironic that, according to the Internet, a 
>similar fate may lie in store for Metcalfe.  In an exclusive interview 
>I just had with the Internet, the Internet opined that Bob Metcalfe is 
>overloading, and, predicts the Internet, he will soon be unable to 
>handle the load.   
>Dr. Robert Metcalfe, a suave, well- -- if perhaps too-casually- -- 
>dressed techno bon vivant, and awardwinner, is best known for being the 
>creator of Ethernet, and also for being one of the founders of 3Com, 
>and recently variously publisher, editor-in-chief, and columnist at 
>InfoWorld magazine.  He's been kvetching about the Internet long before 
>other industry pundits, even John Dvorak or Jerry Pournelle. 
>The Internet is, of course, a global network of networks, linked by the 
>IP networking protocols which enable applications on different types of 
>networks and computers to "schmooze" (intercommunicate), and has become 
>best known as the home of the WorldWideWeb (which has in turn spawned 
>all those "intranets," "extranets," "intrawebs," and "IP corrals"), 
>which, as well all know, is the reason we all "need" Netscape Navigator 
>and/or Microsoft Internet Explorer.  (Conspiracy theorists attribute 
>much of the claimed value of the Web to PR campaigns by memory chip 
>"It's the Firesign Theatre's 'Fudd's Law' all over again -- 'If you push 
>anything hard enough, it will fall over,'" the Internet quipped self-
>referentially, while simultaneously blowing routing loops from its 
>elegantly carved high-bandwidth meerschaum pipe and signing receipt chits 
>for new top-level domains.  
>"I know Bob's worried about me -- well, I'm worried about Bob," the 
>Internet stated statelessly.  "He's pushing himself too hard -- and, 
>unlike me, he only has one provider and wasn't engineered to scale the 
>same way."  The Internet put down the pile of paperwork on a nearby 
>routing table, which was wobbling as if it might collapse at any moment.  
>A green plastic fish which had escaped from another essay wriggled 
>briefly nearby.  
>The Internet is flattered by the Metcalfe's ongoing interest in its 
>health, but fears that this may be a case of the bioanarchistic pot 
>calling the cyber-kettle black. 
>"He's taking on too great a load," explained the Internet, dressed in a 
>open-protocol suit and a <BLINK>ing bow tie for the occasion, at its open 
>suite in the Hotel D'Arpa recently for an exclusive interview.  "He's 
>writing articles and editorials, he's speaking at conferences, he's being 
>interviewed, he's getting awards, he's giving parties... Bob Metcalfe was 
>never designed to handle this great a load, nor to handle many of these 
>types of functions.  Heck, it makes me tired just to think about it.  
>It's inevitable that he'll prove unable to handle the load, sooner or 
>According to a recent three-year $100 million study by two mailroom 
>clerks and a service technician at the Cantseetheforestforthetrees 
>Group located in Cambridge, Mass. near what was supposed to have been 
>the site of a major urban mall and housing development that never 
>materialized, "Metcalfe's appearances and activities have been growing 
>at a monthly rate of 15%." By mid-2002, they predict, "Metcalfe will be 
>speaking at every trade show in the United States, as well as at 29% of 
>the Boy and Girl Scout troop meetings, numerous city zoning board 
>committees, and several county fairs."  
>(Copies of the full report, including color graphs and pie charts, are 
>available for the small cheap paltry sum of $597, payable in $3.00 Ecash 
>certificates made on a browser with margins set to 6.2 centimeters.  Free 
>copies are available from their web site.) 
>Metcalfe's silicon-intelligent anarchistica, notably several leading 
>Ethernet segments at major universities, deny the rumors.  "Bob's NAPs 
>keep him well-rested and productive," reported one at a technical east 
>coast site.  But others report dropped salt packets, open jars of clam 
>dip, and a growing pile of sport coats and sweaters -- some of which, 
>one WAN wag reported, aren't as seamless as they used to be. 
>"Being a pundit requires a lot more speed and flexibility than it used 
>to," notes Sc*tt Br*dn*r, an alleged academic at a university located a 
>few miles upriver from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M*T) 
>in Cambridge, Mass.  "Bob's been able to cope, but he'll run out of 
>bandwidth sooner or later, and fail to show up for a meeting somewhere, 
>or drop his speech en route." 
>D*v* Cl*rk, an alleged computer science academic purported to have been 
>allegedly seen having a beer with an alleged journalist, says, "We have 
>computer simulations of Metcalfe running on our academic computers 
>which show how Metcalfe could run at a higher speed.  Unfortunately, 
>our program refuses to run simulations involving Metcalfe performing 
>non-academic activities."  Cl*rk hypothesized that his simulator was 
>assuming an arbitrarily large supply of graduate students as one of the 
>resources in its calculations.  
>V*nt C*rf, alleged father of the Internet paternity suite and co-founder 
>of C*rfN*t, adds, "At this point, given the expectations that have been 
>created for Metcalfe, it's important that he drop something, if only to 
>prove we're right and he's wrong."  
>Defenders of Metcalfe claim the Internet is being unfair.  "Bob, like 
>all of us, is comprised of many individual organs, bones, cells and old 
>parking tickets," points out an Ethernet segment in Umbilical, Hawaii 
>which was subsequently arrested by the Grammar Police for improper use of 
>'comprise.'  "To say he's completely overloading, versus that some 
>muscle or organ may be overloading, is unfair."  
>"Part of the problem," the Internet said in response to these counter-
>critiques, "is that Metcalfe was never designed to handle a load like 
>this.  He still needs security, management, proper billing, guaranteed 
>service, and blue suede shoes.  It's our own fault for continuing to use 
>I attempted to reach Metcalfe for comment, but he was unavailable (hmmm!) 
>-- off making a speach somewhere in New York... or was it Chicago... or 
>Los Angeles... or whatever.  (Kinda proves the point, don't it?) 
>"I understand what it's like to be overloaded," the Internet concluded.  
>"But I've got the same confidence in Bob that he's got in me.  Frankly, I 
>think we both want to collapse, and then be allowed to spend a few weeks 
>chilling out somewhere quiet, downloading back a few drinks, and waiting 
>for the press to find some other headline-grabbing scapegoat.  
>"As for all those businesses supposedly relying on me -- heck, I never 
>said I was good for that stuff," the Internet pinged.  "I was supposed to 
>just be the proof of concept.  Making me into that info-super-duper-
>highway, that was somebody else's idea.  Whoops -- here somes the three 
>o'clock weather checkers and PointCast update -- back to work!"  
>Shrugging out of its jacket and into a naugahyde jacket with a large 
>"IP On Everything" JPEG on the back, the Internet sauntered off to the 
>nearest meetpoint, singing, in a semi-public key, to a frightening 
>familiar tune, "I know I connect all those LANs/and the LANs I connect 
>to are grand/So when I say, IP, aye, IP, eye-pee-eye-eh/I'm lookin' 
>fine, info-highway/info-highway, no way!..." 
>                                  *
>(Note to readers: Only stunt or simulated Metcalfes were used in 
>testing and writing this article.  Not real Metcalfes, or even his 
>sweaters, were used.  And had this been a real "Internet is out" alert, 
>this would, of course, never have gotten to you.) 
>                                    #
>- Daniel P. Dern (ddern at world.std.com, www.dern.com) has been writing, 
>speaking, consulting, and writing song parodies about the Internet for 
>over a decade.  Author of THE INTERNET GUIDE FOR NEW USERS and founding 
>editor of Internet World magazine, he's ready for somebody to give him 
>another Internet magazine to be in charge of.  Or even another Internet 
>column. And yes, he knows his Web site is vastly in need of updating, 
>                 Copyright (c) 1996 Daniel P. Dern
>/the end.  really. 
>Daniel Dern (ddern at world.std.com, http://www.dern.com) 
>  Internet analyst,  author, columnist & speaker 
>  (617) 969-7947 FAX: (617) 969-7949 

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