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 Tuesday, January 23, 2007

As one the series of Google TechTalks, Van Jacobson presents his talk entitled "A New Way to Look at Networking."

Jacobson's motivation for giving this talk is his feeling that in the last decade network research in the United States has been at a dead end. Despite technological advances, everything with networking is becoming more difficult. People are spread out over multiple devices, wireless barely works, and the solutions that are being presented solve the small problems but do not deal with the larger cause.  In the current situation, Jacobson feels the Internet is not a bad solution but the problem has changed. We are on the verge of a Copernican revolution. A good analogy to this situation is the one faced in the 1960s and 1970s when efforts were being made to use the telephony system to move data.

The traditional telephony system was not about calls, it was about wires. To have a successful business model, a ubiquitous wire system was necessary. Jacobson provides an explanation of the system, how it works, and the issues that arose over ownership of the network. One characteristic of the network was its unreliability. Every piece had to work all the time. Because of this the network was designed to have reliable elements instead of being reliable as a whole. 

The current issue is in order to have access to information, the device used must be connected to the Internet or the user will be cut off. This can be difficult because the device must have a topologically stable address. Also, the Internet does not like things that move or broadcast; it was not designed for this.  How the network is being used has changed. We are not longer in a conversation model. A conversation model cannot be transformed into a viable security model. Instead, Jacobson promotes a dissemination model by discussing the work that is being done with this framework including ways of transferring and storing information and their advantages.

Jacobson feels that the continued reliance on the conversation model has evolved the situation to the point where the user must now do the low level connection plumbing to get what he/she wants.  If we change our view to the dissemination model, the network does the plumbing. 

The full talk can be found here.