Network Operations Luminaries?

Bill Woodcock woody at
Fri Dec 7 17:01:22 UTC 2001

      Randy Bush wrote:
    > business management is in more need of luminaries as the business failure
    > rate is orders of magnitude higher than the internet packet drop rate.

Yes, that's interesting.  I hadn't looked at it that way.  I guess you
could say that Internet routing is basically successful, since something
like 99.X% of packets are delivered to their destination, whereas business
is basically a bust, since 90% of business fail in the first 18 months (or
something like that).  That's obviously an apples-to-oranges comparison,
since the packets have a short natural lifespan within which to succeed,
whereas the "natural lifespan" of a business is open-ended.

But back to the point, why we don't need luminaries in this business:
We're an engineering culture, and we celibrate the oral tradition of
didactic tales of failure, rather than the cult of personality.  The
handing down of tales of failure, which is what we do for entertainment
and social reinforcement, is what allows us as engineers to build upon the
successes of previous generations and avoid replicating their failures.
Celebrating personality is irrelevant to our social construct; it serves
no function.

The luminaries of our culture, if they exist, are the engineers who made
the famous mistakes which are indelibly commited to our collective memory,
from which the greatest number of other engineers have learned a lesson
without replicating the learning experience first-hand.


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