[ih] Historical Tracing from Concept to Reality over 5 decades?

Jack Haverty jack at 3kitty.org
Tue Jul 14 15:02:08 PDT 2020

Yes, your frustration with lack of interest in defining such network
standards is the same thing I experienced back in the 70s with
"structure" in email.  I think this is the tip of the iceberg though. 
It's not just "these kind of functions" for "mail" that has lost

For example, right now we all have been spending a lot of time at home,
and even the major news networks are using remote interaction technology
to bring their guests and even anchors together from their homes.   We
can all see the way the technology works on the network news shows --
lots of pixelization, tearing of video images, garbled and dropped
audio, et al.

Does that mean the Internet is not working today?  

Back in the 1980s, one of the scenarios driving Internet development was
a military one -- soldiers in the field interacting with commanders at
bases and even the Pentagon, with multimedia human interfaces.   So the
commander might say "Battalion X move now to this location; we'll
shortly be bombing this area here." while pointing with his mouse at
places on the map being displayed on his tablet, linked of course to
similar ones in the field.   Of course synchronization and accuracy of
the video/image/audio was very critical.  I remember Vint clearly
explaining this at one of the 80s meetings.

If we had built a protoype then that worked like the systems we see on
TV today, our chances for funding next year would have been in serious

There was a lot done circa 80s to implement first-cut standards for such
functionality.  TCP was split into TCP/IP and UDP introduced.  The IP
header was defined to include a Type-Of_Service field.   Lots of
thinking went in to how to run multiple routing mechanisms over the same
Internet infrastructure, so that traffic would be prioritized and
handled appropriately for a mix of text, audio, images, etc. (Video was
excluded as just too hard for 56 kilobit lines).   Experiments were done
trying out protocols and mechanisms to carry real-time interactive
multimedia.   Progress was being made.

Forty years later, the Internet is everywhere, and bandwidth is now
cheap and fairly pervasive.   But the talking heads on TV look and sound
fine coming in from their homes -- until they move around and start
talking.   I can guess why that happens -- movement and action demands
more IP traffic.   The anchors apologize for the "technical
difficulties" and the show goes on.

I'm not sure if anybody considers this "broken", or has much interest in
fixing it.  It seems more likely that everyone has now been
indoctrinated that such behavior is normal and expected.   Just live
with it and order more equipment and fiber.  It might help.  
Distributed, open standards?   Who has time for that?

The Concept was great.  The Reality?  You decide.   I just wonder what
happened over those 40 years to get from there to where we are today.

AFAIK, there's no way for you to give a "thumbs up" or whatever reaction
you have at those TV shows either -- except by logging in to your
favorite social media site and typing away.

Or tweeting....


On 7/14/20 1:06 PM, Dave Crocker wrote:
> On 7/14/2020 12:40 PM, Jack Haverty via Internet-history wrote:
>> Fifty years later, I can see some of that kind of
>> functionality operating now, in various kinds of online forums, and
>> social media sites.  But, AFAIK, all of these contemporary mechanisms
>> are single-site in nature.  A user must connect to each individual site
>> to join that conversation, and "cross-posting" is often discouraged or
>> impossible.
>> There is no endemic and widespread standard for supporting the more
>> complex interactions of Licks' vision, although technologies such as XML
>> and MQTT seem (to me at least) to be now filling in some of the
>> pieces.
> There were some efforts do do structured 'workflow' and the like, over
> email, but yes, in a proprietary fashion.  If remember, Winograd
> participated in the Higgins system product.  What I've taken from the
> history of problems these efforts had is that the enhancements need to
> be optional, rather than coercive.
> It's been frustrating to see the apparent lack of interest in
> distributed, open standards for these kinds of functions.
> I keep think that widespread frustrations with the operations of the
> major social networking sites might be a useful motivator for a
> careful effort to replicate social/busines/etc. messaging-based
> functionality on top of email.  So far, I haven't found a set of folk
> interested in working on that, though.
> By way of the smallest example, I keep finding myself reading a
> posting to a mailing list and wanting to signal a simple thumbs up
> icon.  Or sadness, or.  And it would be such a simple standard to
> write and implement, if only the MUA builders were interested...
> d/

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