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Home | Seminars and Symposia | Past seminars/symposia: Tuesday, October 19, 2010

DTC Science and Technology Innovators Lecture Series

What Went Wrong? How the Internet Stagnated, or The 30 Years War of the Bellheads and the Bitheads


John Day

Tuesday, October 19, 2010
4:30 p.m. reception
5:00 p.m. seminar

401/402 Walter Library

Download presentation, pdf (187 KB)

John Day

Near the turn of the century, researchers began to notice that Internet research had stagnated. The Internet architecture seemed to be running out of steam. With much fanfare and many panels, efforts were begun to rectify the situation. The phrases "new architecture" or "future Internet" and "clean slate" became hot topics. So far, however, they have failed to produce new insights or even come close to fulfilling their promise. Recently, we have seen rationalization set in: "The Internet has always changed by evolution; there isn't that much wrong with it; we can just incrementally fix a few things and all will be okay." Given that we know, that if the Internet were an Operating System, it would have more in common with DOS than Unix, what went wrong? In this talk, Mr. Day draws on his knowledge of the forces of history, his more than three decades in the midst of events in the world of networking as an actor and observer and his recent book, Patterns in Network Architecture, to consider that question. Day constructs what might be called a "Guns, Germs and Steel" of networking; finding that the outcome of the Internet had little to do with the scientists and engineers, who were more pawns (or victims) in a much larger game, than politics and business. Day finds that the stagnation began in the mid-70s and that the Internet has been living on Moore's Law and band aids for the past 30 years.


John Day has been involved in research and development of computer networks since 1970, when they were the 12th node on the "Net." Mr. Day has developed and designed protocols for everything from the data link layer to the application layer. Also making fundamental contributions to research on distributed databases,. He also did work on the early development of supercomputers and was a member of a development team on three operating systems. Mr. Day was an early advocate of the use of Formal Description Techniques (FDTs) for protocols and shepherded the development of the three international standard FDTs: Estelle, LOTOS, and extending SDL. Mr. Day managed the development of the OSI reference model, naming and addressing, and a major contributor to the upper-layer architecture; he also chaired the US ANSI committee for OSI Architecture and was a member of the Internet Research Task Force's Name Space Research Group. He was a major contributor to the development of network management architecture, working in the area since 1984 defining the fundamental architecture currently prevalent and designing high-performance implementations; and in the mid-1980s, he was involved in fielding a network management system, ten years ahead of comparable systems. Recently, Mr. Day has turned his attention to the fundamentals of network architectures and has published Patterns in Network Architecture (Prentice Hall, 2008), which has been characterized (embarrassingly) as "the most important book on network protocols in general and the Internet in particular ever written." Mr. Day is also a recognized scholar in the history of cartography, and published on 17thC China. Mr. Day has also contributed to exhibits at the Smithsonian and a forthcoming chapter in Matteo Ricci Cartographia.