Friday, May 6, 2016

Some Thoughts on Russian Networks

During the period from 1960 thru 1990 Russia developed a variety of networks, many for military use and many for central command and control. Based upon my own personal first hand experience working with them they clear were ate the same level as the west. Thus in rethinking the book by Peters which I reviewed I thought that his title was most likely totally out of place.

Using the title How Not to Network a Nation: The Uneasy History of the Soviet Internet was in my opinion out of place. The Internet was a construct that grew out of the arrogance of AT&T more than any uniqueness on the part of US technology. If AT&T had agreed to work with ARPA then this would have just been an extension of the monopoly network. Instead the arrogance of the monopolist, the entity that saw itself above everything else, created the creative destruction that led to its collapse.

Thus there is a real story of a set of brilliant technologists in Russia that may very well go untold. It was not a question of "How Not to" but the advantage the early ARPA team had in facing an adversary, not Russia but AT&T, and having the resources to overcome it.

Perhaps some day there will be a work on Soviet networks, a works which commends the efforts of many brilliant men and women in Russia who created a parallel universe and who when the borders fell allowed in a seamless manner the full expansion of the global IP network.

If one further looks at the time one also sees the IBM SNA network, akin to many of the centralized schemes we may see in Russia and Europe. But as a backdoor way to get around AT&T we had TCP/IP.

Thus understanding the reality of what occurred, it is not, "How not to" but ask ourselves the question; what really happened. Also one hopes there is a tale of Russia's advances to tell the complete story. From that we can learn that our then adversaries were as bright as we think we were.