The following text is copyright 1994 by Network World, permission is hearby given for reproduction, as long as attribution is given and this notice is included.

Networking in Oz

By: Scott Bradner

Well, that was quite something! I'm just back from a week at NetWorld+Interop in Las Vegas.

During the whole week it was real hard to shake the 'we ain't in Kansas anymore' feeling. In spite of this, Interop, as most people still think of the event, did sort of fit into this city built on the power of random reinforcement. The show floor was covered by flashing lights, magic tricks, touches of virtual reality, and hucksters dressed as Wayne and Garth. For once, this show seemed almost quaint when compared to what was going on in the real world outside.

It was almost easy to accept that Wayne and Garth would know something about electronics and networking in a town where a fight takes place three times a night between a full sized pirate ship and a British man of war, at the end of which the British captain goes down with his ship.

The only thing that could compete with the thick layer of unreality that covers Las Vegas was the layer of ATM hype enveloping the exhibit floor. If the assertions of the ATM salesdroids were poker chips even the person with the worst of luck could have spent weeks at the gaming tables after one round of the floor. I did overhear many people wandering out into the well lit Las Vegas night humming 'someday my cell will come'.

Since I was teaching a tutorial (twice) and doing some sessions myself, I did not get a chance to attend much of the program but I did notice that at least one of the old standbys was gone. There was no OSI vs. TCP/IP debate this year, it seems like the draft FIRP report has already had some effect. In its place there was a Clipper chip debate wherein, I am told, the audience was told that this proposed privacy enhancement device and procedure was a step on the way to a reasonable balance of privacy and security. The audience was also told that the step was down a quite slippery slope that would result in fewer U.S. jobs and could eventually result in less privacy for the individuals using U.S. data and telecommunications networks. It sure is nice when reasoned discourse results in a better understanding of the issues, this may even happen some day on this particular issue.

Pardon me for a minute while I go get a horn to blow...

The high point of the week, for me anyway, was my session reporting the results of the latest round of router and bridge tests. The same session might not have been the high point for quite all of the vendors reported on, and in particular, for the vendors that did not take part and now have to answer the question 'why not?'. The results of these tests are available by anonymous ftp or gopher from Look in the directory pub/ndtl.

The week was topped off by a newpaper story that I read in the plane on the way back. Those lawyers I talked about last time are still trying to prove all the lawyer jokes are correct. They are starting their own company to abuse the Internet for a fee. (Well, did you think that lawyers like this are sleazy for free?) It's amazing how some people can care less about the disgust of the many than for the dollars of the few.

Disclaimer: I must be speaking for myself since I don't think Harvard has ever been to Vegas.