The Experiment is Over
Friday, April 28, 1995 by Dave Winer.
Life without ISDN is a pain! That's the problem. As wonderful as ISDN is, that's exactly how much it sucks when it goes away. My service provider went down yesterday, not sure why, and I was stuck using a 9600 bps connection to the net.
After a few hours of waiting and hunting for something to do while the net creaked along, I gave up, and took care of miscellaneous stuff -- got a haircut, got my beard trimmed too (first time!), got a smog certificate for my pickup truck, went to Brian Zisk's 30th birthday party, and gave Jim Race, firstname.lastname@example.org, a bunch of advice on how to handle the fame, love and respect he's getting after being chosen Cool Site of the Day yesterday for his VRML website. Jim deserves the attention, his site *is* a cool site.
It's at http://www.well.com/user/caferace/vrml.html if you want to check it out.
So, now my ISDN is back up, and I'm feeling good. I like having a trimmed beard, and that smog certificate thing was really bugging me!
Coool. Today we have a guest speaker. His name is Glenn Fleishman, email@example.com, he's president of the of Seattle, WA, and also a contributing editor for Adobe Magazine, freelance featurist (yeah!) for InfoWorld, moderator of the inet-marketing mailing list, and DaveNet subscriber since 1994.
Glenn wrote this essay for his group of eight (which nowadays is a group of ten, by the way) and I thought it was so interesting, I wanted to share it with the whole DaveNet list. So here it is!
by Glenn Fleishman
Most people believe that the Internet is still a US government funded project. This includes a handful of journalists I had lunch with recently who write about PCs, online services, and the Internet. After 20 minutes of discussion, I managed to persuade them that it wasn't.
In fact, over the last four years the Internet has been increasingly made up of commercial networks that interface with each other and the National Science Foundation Network (NSFNet). About two years ago, the Internet Powers That Be decided that the experiment was over -- that is, they had proven and established the viability of private sector TCP/IP (Internet Protocol) networks, and government money no longer needed to be invested in that infrastructure. Rather, the money should start being directed toward gigabit bandwidth projects and the Iway/Infobahn/InfoSwy.
In November 1994, the NSFNet took the first in a series of steps that would essentially remove the backbone of the beast (the Internet) without killing it. Colleges and other institutions that have been using the NSFNet were advised to find alternate feeds (which have turned out to be primarily MCI, Sprintlink, and ANS, which ran the backbone as a joint effort between MCI and IBM and then had most of its operations sold to AOL a few months ago.
The final stages are now occurring -- some of you may have noted some instability in the Net in the last week. Last Friday, the routing tables, essentially, the subway maps for packets on the Internet, for NSFNet were removed. Some problems occurred and part of the routing was re-established. All the major backbone operators (Sprintlink, MCI, PSI, UUnet/CompuServe, Net99, etc.) have been upgrading and moving their equipment at the major Network Access Point (NAP) in Washington, D.C., causing more instability.
On April 30 -- the end of this week -- NSFNet gets turned off for good unless something unexpected happens that requires some additional perpetuation for a few more days.
This marks a major leap in the Internet to an all-commercial network. Even if you decide to count the government and education as non-commercial, their traffic is carried on backbones operated by commercial operators.
NSF will be pumping about $4 million into commercial networks this year, decreasing to $0 million in four years. The bite is that the networks must agree to develop and "peer" (exchange packets) at NAPs. Currently, the major points are MAE-EAST (Metropolitan Area Ethernet East) in Washington, D.C. and the ATM/SMDS/Pac Bell hub in San Jose. Motion is underway by several major networks to start a non-ATM-flavored hub in the Bay Area, Net99 has spearheaded a Chicago NAP, and apparently ones in Denver, Seattle, Dallas, and other major cities are also underway. This week, my Internet provider, Interconnected Associates, begins a peering arrangement in their Network Operation Center [NOC] between Sprintlink and Network99.
This has been underreported because of its highly technical nature -- Peter Lewis wrote a piece for the Times in November covering some of the details. But regardless of the deep details of the transition, it's a major step in the commercialization of the Net. In fact -- it's the last step.
Want more info on the transition of the Internet? Check out http://www.ra.net/routing.arbiter/NSFNET/NSF.transition.html.
PS: I got a great reaction to my little piece about the freeing of Frontier from the shackles of the commercial distribution system. I think this is going to be fun! I look forward to a re-energized scripting community on the Macintosh, and I believe we will be able to make a business of it. If not, well at least it'll be fun.
PPS: Last nite I heard that now has blonde hair! And I got another installment in the continuing saga of my favorite leather jacket. It might be turning into my favorite virtual leather jacket! Ohhhhhhh. Help!
PPPS: Have a grrrrrrrreat weekend!