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[PUBLIC] What Network Code Architecture Can Teach Us About Life - The Cover Story
October 2013
 
 
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Wed, Apr. 6th, 2011 04:28 pm
[PUBLIC] What Network Code Architecture Can Teach Us About Life

I've been writing network code for well over a decade now. Early on, I was writing straight off the RFC's, so I got to see the protocols that make up the Internet as we know it in their original state. In RFC793, Transmission Control Protocol (arguably one of the most influential standards ever to come out of IANA), Jon Postel, the editor of the RFC series, included a section (2.10) called the Robustness Principle:

TCP implementations will follow a general principle of robustness: be conservative in what you do, be liberal in what you accept from others.

It has since become known as Postel's Law in Network Programming circles. Although its merits have been debated, a large amount of the interconnectivity that makes our current information age possible relies on this rule. It is almost essential for any group of independently developed programs to communicate with each other, even with the most specific of communication specifications.

I've been going over this ground again because of a project I'm working on for Festival of the LARPs, and I am struck by how useful a principle this is, not just for communities of computers, but for their users as well. Behave with all possible etiquette and decorum when dealing with others, but accept their behavior however it falls upon you (within the bounds of law and order, of course.) A responsible member of society, like a well-engineered server, should be unflappable, regardless of what emerges from the throng around them. I confess, I have not always lived up to this principle, but it is one I strive to put into use wherever applicable, not just in the tangle of packets and streams of a listener loop.

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jalawingedone
jalawingedone
Wed, Apr. 6th, 2011 10:45 pm (UTC)

I dunno. I lived under the concept for years, although not so nearly well articulated, and some of my neuroses spring from the fact that I have trouble letting someone else know that their behavior is out of line. I used to just take it until I exploded without warning rather then give the gentlest of hints.


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nerdx111
nerdx111
nerdx111
Wed, Apr. 6th, 2011 10:59 pm (UTC)

I have a lot of thoughts about this that I am unable to articulate. Suffice to say for now that the neuroticism you describe (or something very akin to it) is absolutely central to my image of myself. Sometimes that worries me a great deal, but most of the time I consider it the greatest strength of my character, so I'm very very reluctant to even consider backing down from it.


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jalawingedone
jalawingedone
Wed, Apr. 6th, 2011 11:04 pm (UTC)

If you are capable of taking it and taking it and taking it and disposing of the toxicity in private, then more power to you. But I have chosen to be less gracious in exchange for my sanity and well-being. I am near incapable of handling the fallout myself, although I've gotten better at articulating issues that bug me better, and talking with people I trust and have proved willing to help me clean out my mental garbage. But angry is a short path to tears with me. It's better if I speak up while I am merely irritated.


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