:: urbansheep (urbansheep) wrote,
:: urbansheep

[ Q ] [ L ] The myth of interference

The myth of interference

Internet architect David Reed explains how bad science created the broadcast industry.


[...] Reed is dogmatically undogmatic: "Attempting to decide what is the best architecture before using it always fails. Always." This is in fact a one-line recapitulation of the end-to-end argument he and his coauthors put forward in 1981. If you want to maximize the utility of a network, their paper maintained, you should move as many services as feasible out of the network itself. While that may not be as counterintuitive as the notion of photons not occupying space, it is at least non-obvious, for our usual temptation is to improve a network by adding services to it.

That's what the telephone companies do: They add Caller I.D., and now their network is more valuable. We know it's more valuable because they charge us more for it. But the end-to-end argument says that adding services decreases the value of a communications network, for it makes decisions ahead of time about what people might want to do with the network. Instead, Reed and his colleagues argued, keep the network unoptimized for specific services so that it's optimized for enabling innovation by the network's users (the "ends").


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