[rfc-i] Now tell me how to communicate this as effectively in plaintext

Phillip Hallam-Baker hallam at gmail.com
Wed Apr 25 18:51:04 PDT 2012

On Wed, Apr 25, 2012 at 7:05 PM, Joe Touch <touch at isi.edu> wrote:
> Hi, Phillip,
> On 4/23/2012 9:28 AM, Phillip Hallam-Baker wrote:
>> I have been working on the attached document for several months. It
>> describes a proposal to change the structure of PKI. Note that none of
>> the other proposals referenced are described in RFC form either, nor
>> do the authors have any intention of using that format.
>> The subject matter is neither simple nor straightforward. The
>> arguments are not straightforward either. PKI is a complicated subject
>> because it deals with the real world and the real world is complex.
>> While all the diagrams and illustrations are described in the text, it
>> is much more likely that people will understand the diagrams than the
>> text.
>> Now while I could convert this into plaintext format I am not going
>> to. I am going to make my argument in the format I think is going to
>> be most effective for communication.
>> I have the following questions:
>> 1) Does anyone seriously want to argue that the document would be
>> easier to interpret in plaintext format without any diagrams?
> Since when does plaintext prevent diagrams? TCP did an entire state diagram
> - a lot more complex than anything in this doc - in ASCII.

It looks like a confused scribble. Sorry, that does not persuade me at all.

>> 3) Does anyone imagine people would read the result?
> If you're arguing that RFCs aren't interesting to read, sure. But nobody
> suggested publishing RFCs in a magazine either.

Why not?

>> 4) Would anyone insist on plaintext if they thought that people had a
>> choice in the standards organization they participate in?
> Moot point. There's no alter-IETF that uses SVG yet.

Not as moot as you might imagine. There will be at least one
alter-IETF started in Dubai this December. Russia and China are seeing
to that. They are offering the third world countries the ability to
recoup their lost international calling termination taxes.

I can't get the younger security engineers to work in IETF. They have
been turned off by the politics and the habit of the older generation
(i.e. folks like me) treading on their ideas.

So far they have been held at bay by folk pointing out that it would
take just as long to get things done in IETF. But eventually they will
realize that creating an alt-IETF would have one significant
difference - there would be different people in charge, them instead
of us.

> All standards organizations pick a format, and all have members that
> complain that the format is insufficient for a given problem. They don't
> typically create new standards organizations for that one reason.
> Figure it this way - if you can't agree on a document format, then why
> bother agreeing on a protocol?

If all you care about is good enough then why not join the 21st century?

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