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Competing With The Tabloids

By: Scott Bradner

Well, even though I'm not a professional predictor (nor do I play one on TV) it is that time of year, so here I go. Predictions fall into a number of levels of confidence from 'bet the rent check' to 'sure fella'. You will have to guess which prediction falls at which level.

I predict that the growth of articles about the Internet will continue at a rate exceeding even the growth of the Internet itself.

I predict that, following its brilliant refusal to support DCE, Apple Computer will come up with yet another way to make sure that its products do not conform to developing industry standards.

I predict that [Apple, Digital, IBM, Novell] will pronounce that its own protocol [AppleTalk, DECNET Phase V/OSI, SNA/APPN, IPX] is [better, faster, smaller] than TCP/IP. I also predict that the use of TCP/IP will continue to outstrip the above (at least for internetworking applications).

(Unfortunately) I predict that there will be another Internet security event that will capture the attention of the national news media. This will get people to wondering yet again if anything has changed in Internet security since the Internet Worm of 1988. (The answer is 'not much'.) This will make it much harder to get companies to connect to the net.

(Also unfortunately) I predict that 'porn on the Internet' will attract one or more crusading reporters who, after doing plenty of research, will expose (if that be the right term) the scandal. This will make it much harder to get schools connected to the net. (If the last two predictions come true, I predict that the National Information Infrastructure will more closely resemble a video store than an information highway.)

I predict that, as it happened with 16Mb token ring and FDDI, just as ATM begins to get cost effective 'the network of the future' will start to be seen around the corner, thereby continue the state of FUD (fear, uncertainty and dread) under which network designers have had to live for the last few years.

I predict that someone (anyone) in a telco will start to understand what it means to provide Internet service. (Ordinarily, I'd give this prediction a higher probability since I know of at least one telco that just hired someone rather well qualified to tell them what this entails however he still has to persuade those he works for that the world is not dial tone and information operators.)

I predict that after Allison Mankin and I announce of our decision on IPng, our logic and powers of persuasion will carry the day and all competing technologies will melt away leaving one unifiable world-wide information structure. (Unifiable, not unified, since we still have that pesky worry about security - and then there are all those national borders, figuring out who is going to pay for what bits [so to speak] etc.)

I predict that I will not have to keep doing the annual router performance tests because all of the equipment vendors will begin to put out clear, believable performance numbers on their products.

I predict that coming up with topics for a column every two weeks will get to be interesting (if that is the proper term for the panic the comes when a deadline looms) so please send me ideas, questions, favorite gripes, etc. (Acknowledgments given.)

Disclaimer of the week: (seen on the net but I don't remember whom it is by) Listen to me?!? Can't imagine why.