A Quartet's Duo Proposed World of Ends

A duo of The Cluetrain Manifesto authorship quadumvirate, Doc Searls and David Weinberger, are back with the latest screed that makes me pump my fist in the air like I just don't care. Or, rather, like I do.The World of Ends is a set of simple statements which rock the datasphere. When I was at Supernova 2002, where both Doc and David spoke and listened, we heard two messages crashing against each other like the immovable object and irrestible force: quality of service (QoS) in all its many manifestations and the Stupid Network in its clear vision. The Stupid Network, a term coined by David Isenberg and expanded on by many of his cohorts, states that a network that doesn't know what it's carrying but only strives to connect all points -- what Dave and Doc call, wisely, "ends" -- works best. The QoS vision says, insidiously, we want certain measures of performance, like video that doesn't skip a beat, and people who pay more for their service being guaranteed packets as they need them. (I went on about this back in December.) The two notions collide in that the smarter you make the network, the worse you guarantee it will handle anything, and the more control you exercise over its very nature. By abandoning control, which is impossible to perfect anyway, you open the network up to work just as well as it would have if you'd built all that expensive and conflicting QoS stuff. In practice, it's saying don't try to force higher layer stuff in the network stack, like applications, on lower layer stuff like network or physical elements. If you make everything work the best it can at the lowest levels, including maximizing bandwidth and ensuring diversity of routing and peering, the upper levels can do very well on their own, thank you very much. Bob Frankston practically hypnotized me into believing this at Supernova 2002, and it's a testament to people that changed the world before that when they start talking in prophet mode, you'd better listen -- in profit mode. What Doc and Dave are pushing is a clear message aimed at reforming the basis of the contention. What they have done is provide a platform on which future arguments about QoS and the Stupid Network will have to be based. You can no longer argue about these issues without debating whether their syllogism and/or givens are legitimate. You can't ignore them. Obviously, a book follows, no? (The World of Ends reminds me in part of a meme I'm pushing through my friends and colleagues in the Wi-Fi hot spot world: the physical part doesn't matter. It's a business of branding and real estate, because everything in between just works. Anybody with some competence can set up a wireless access point, create accounts, track usage, and bill people. There are lots of choices, and it's a routine activity if not trivial. The hard part now in hot spots is creating a brand that people subscribe to -- and by extension make partnerships to firm up the brand -- and to sign real estate venues to put your hot spots in. The middle part can't be ignored but it's not hard. In the World of Ends, the network is a given.)