April 7th marked the 40th anniversary of Requests for Comments or RFC. In “How the Internet Got Its Rules,” in the New York Times, Stephen D. Crocker recounts the fluidity as the World Wide Web became codified. RFC’s are the technical working papers that worked through and created internet standards and protocols that allowed different machines and languages to communicate. It’s a fascinating story.
“After all, everyone understood there was a practical value in choosing to do the same task in the same way. For example, if we wanted to move a file from one machine to another, and if you were to design the process one way, and I was to design it another, then anyone who wanted to talk to both of us would have to employ two distinct ways of doing the same thing. So there was plenty of natural pressure to avoid such hassles. It probably helped that in those days we avoided patents and other restrictions; without any financial incentive to control the protocols, it was much easier to reach agreement.
This was the ultimate in openness in technical design and that culture of open processes was essential in enabling the Internet to grow and evolve as spectacularly as it has. In fact, we probably wouldn’t have the Web without it…” (NYT)
The article leaves me with a powerful lasting thought- openness and transparency.
“As we rebuild our economy, I do hope we keep in mind the value of openness, especially in industries that have rarely had it. Whether it’s in health care reform or energy innovation, the largest payoffs will come not from what the stimulus package pays for directly, but from the huge vistas we open up for others to explore.”
The Internet makes AdmissionsQuest and our work with families possible and it’s opened and continues opening new ways of communicating and connecting the boarding school world. YouTube and Podcasting didn’t exist when we started.
Openness and transparency foster new ideas, great creative thinking and healthy relationships and these are also the foundations of great boarding schools.