November 26th, 2004

IESG first Impressions

Apologies to those who couldn't care less about the IETF. Not surprisingly I've spent the last two weeks coming up to speed on how the IESG works. Every organization has its history and that history influences how things are done. The IESG is still evolving to take full advantage of the ID tracker and balloting system. Parts of the telechat and the procedures surrounding evaluations feel somewhat like attending a MITSFS meeting: there are the mail in ballots that get generated and never used, the implied questions that never get asked, and all sorts of other things that evolved over a long time. I was able to find out most of the roots of all these little procedures and how the current practice came to be. I like being able to trace the evolution of organizations. I also like working in evolved organizations: they tend to be the organizations that meet the needs of their communities well enough and over a long enough period of time to build up history. I was pleasantl surprised to find that most of the current procedures were well documented and that you could reasonably tell what was current practice and what was historical.

It looks like I'm going to enjoy being an area director. I'm certainly going to learn a lot about parts of the Internet I have been ignoring. That should be fun and useful. There's a lot of reading and a lot of work. My greatest challenge is going to be avoiding over committing my time, especially if I want to continue spending a fair bit of time on non-IETF Kerberos work. If MIT politics continue in their current direction, I may end up trying to minimize the non-IETF work that I'm tasked with.

One down side of the IESG is that I end up seeing more of the broken parts of the IETF. Apparently, the Kerberos and GSSAPI community has been quite functional compared to some other parts of the organization. We have our technical disagreements, and we sometimes get bogged down trying to solve an issue for a long time. However other parts of the IETF have some really ugly politics. One of the worst forms of politics seems to be jockeying for author credit on RFCs. This has already popped up multiple times in the last two weeks. Those in academia are probably all too familiar with the problem, but I had rarely experienced this before.