Subject: Re: Package System and new dialect
From: (Rob Warnock)
Date: 1998/07/20
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <6p0khf$>
Kent M Pitman  <> wrote:
| But standards making is NOT about design.

(*sigh*) Oh, would that that were true! And indeed it used to be, but...

In the area of networking hardware & protocols, HP-IB (as IEEE-488)
and HIPPI were about the last standards which codified existing,
working practice more-or-less unchanged. Since then, all new networking
hardware/protocols have been "design by standards committee", by what
some cynics call the principle of "maximum mutual disadvantage". That is,
if something is already *working*, well then, the company that made it
work would have an "unfair" competitive advantage if the working system
got standardized, wouldn't it, and we can't have *that*, can we??!? 
As a prime example, consider FDDI...

IEEE 802.3 *almost* left D-I-X Ethernet alone, but broke it by requiring
that only 802.2 LLC be used on top. Fortunately, Xerox helped the pragmatists
squeak by that one by relocating a few of the previously-assigned Ethernet
"types" that had the same values as IEEE 802.3 "lengths" [which fell in
the same bit positions on the wire], so that now all of the "types" are
disjoint from the legal values of "length", so classic D-I-X Ethernet can
co-exist on the same wire as 802.3. [*Whew!!* That was close!] And a similar
end-run snuck Ethernet types back into "pure" 802.2 media such as FDDI,
by using the "SNAPpy Xerox" hack (everyone agreeing that an LLC/SNAP frame
with OUI=0 implies that the two "reserved for organizational use" bytes
would be an Ethernet type). [Another close one!]

And so it goes. *All* of the ATM world has been "design by standards
committee".  Even the "rebel" AAL5 (a radically simpler alternative
to AAL4) was proposed to the ANSI T1S1.5 before it was ever implemented.
[And don't even get me *started* about ATM flow-control...]


Rob Warnock, 7L-551
Silicon Graphics, Inc.		Phone: 650-933-1673
2011 N. Shoreline Blvd.		FAX: 650-933-4392
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