There’s a small group that hosts meetings three times per year, and works mostly via email that you’ve probably not heard of. They’re called the Internet Engineering Task Force or IETF. The women and men who participate in the IETF create standards by which computers communicate with one another. You’re reading this note thanks to several of those standards. They are collected in documents known as Requests for Comments or RFCs that are available for anyone to read. In fact, you can write your own if you want.
The IETF became important to me at a time when we were just learning how to manage congestion (more demand than there is bandwidth). It stayed important when we needed more efficient routing protocols. Through internationalization efforts at the IETF, the Internet grew from a U.S. government network to a worldwide network of networks that supports people speaking just about any language.
Last week marked the IETF’s 30th birthday. To the thousands of people who have participated over those thirty years, especially to those who aren’t with us today, I want to say this: Thank you. Thank you to those who have worked to make TCP/IP-based networking suitable for the way we live, work, and play. Thanks to the people who have done their level best to see that our protocols are safe and secure. Thanks to those who shared their innovations, so that the best ideas are available for all to use. Thanks to those who devoted their lives to handling all the administrative aspects of the organization.
So now you know who the IETF is. You too can participate, as can anyone. For more information, just go to www.ietf.org and join the party and celebrate with us this anniversary, and the ones in the future.