The following text is copyright 2002 by Network World, permission is hearby given for reproduction, as long as attribution is given and this notice is included.


Fights between things that never were


By Scott Bradner


What an amazing concept! Take pairs of people for whom the Warhollian 15 minutes of fame was about three times too long and set them up in a manufactured boxing event aimed squarely at the heart of the vast wasteland part of the TV dial.  Who would have thought that anyone could out wrestle the World Wrestling Federation and Chia Pet infomercials for dominance of this critical part of our culture.  Having Tonya Harding, of clubbing opposing skaters knees fame, take on Paula Jones, of Presidential distinguishing features renown, and call the result "Celebrity Boxing" is a stroke of genius that is sadly not rare enough. 


But it did get me to thinking (if that is the right term) of other things that were only real in the gullible minds of the press and professional pundits or in the random number generators of the analyst companies that could be paired up for imaginary boxing matches that would be at least as interesting or of the same level of lasting importance as Celebrity Boxing was.


My first match is between Fred "Ethernet Killer" ATM-to-the-desktop and Charlie "IP Killer" Novell IPX.  This battle between ex-pretenders (in both senses of the word) to well established kingdoms pits two accomplished money sinks against each other.  The winner of this fight gets to take on Lou "Pure Blue" token ring, once the darling of the business world and now a fading memory.


The second match features Ellen "QoS Jr." APPN (Advanced-Peer-to-Peer Networking) and Mary "I'm Official" OSI protocol suite.  APPN, once the heir-apparent to the original Mr. QoS, IBM's mighty SNA (Systems Network Architecture), is coming out of retirement just for this match.   The OSI protocol suite, last seen in requests for proposals from the US Federal Aviation Administration, was once world famous as the protocol suite that governments loved to love but is now seen mostly in classes about the theory of networking.  This would be a fight to the death if the contenders were not already effectively dead.


The highlight of the show is a tag-team event with four of the biggest lights of the Internet boom era.  Team "irrational" includes the sock puppet, representing the dozens of B2C ventures who thought that Super Bowl ads could replace rational business models, and Joe "Bell Beater" CLEC, fronting for all those who thought that playing to the stupidity of the incumbent telephone companies was a license to print money.  This fine team will be up against team "exuberance" consisting of "Ms Walled Garden" WAP (Wireless Application Protocol), still pretending that a part of something that looks sorta like the Internet is better than the Internet itself, and Billy "I'll do it for you" ASP (application service provider), whose future depended on fast networks and expensive disks.  This bout is all the more interesting because most of the players have not figured out the state they are actually in.


Well, that was fun, and only disappointing in the number of well qualified candidates for inclusion that had to be dropped for lack of space.


disclaimer:  Harvard does not think this low so it must be me.