by Darius Kazemi, May 24 2019

In 2019 I'm reading one RFC a day in chronological order starting from the very first one. More on this project here. There is a table of contents for all my RFC posts.

Data sharing

RFC-144 is titled “Data Sharing on Computer Networks” by Arie Shoshani of System Development Corporation. It's dated April 30, 1971.

The technical content

This RFC is referenced in RFC-140 as an RFC “yet to come by Shoshani” (no pressure, Arie). It's meant as discussion fodder for the Tuesday morning session on the Data Reconfiguration Service and Data Management System during the upcoming Network Working Group meeting.

The RFC is to provide an introduction to concepts of data sharing among users of a computer network.

The author implies, via a list of implementation considerations, that a data sharing system should be:

Four possible approaches are laid out.

  1. Centralized data management system (CDMS). This is a computer or a set of computers that are tasked with providing data sharing services for the entire network. The idea is that most computers would not handle data sharing, but would talk to these network resources to do it for them instead. This is kind of like how an iPhone uses iCloud to handle data sharing.
  2. Standardized data management system (SDMS). This is where all computers use the exact same local data management system. Sort of the equivalent of saying “every computer must use file system X with database software Y”.
  3. Integrated data management system (IDMS). This would be some kind of protocol that allows a local data management system to talk to a remote data management system. This is similar to modern specifications like GraphQL.
  4. Unified data management system (UDMS). This seems to me like the same thing as the IDMS? I'm unsure of the difference.

They suggest that if a common language for data management is to be designed, it should perhaps be offered in two layers: an easy-to-use high level language, and then a more formal “intermediate language” that programmers can use if the high level language isn't expressive enough for their needs.

The author suggests the IDMS approach as the best way to go, though the author's brief coverage of the UDMS approach leads me to believe that he is perhaps as confused as I am as to what the differencebetween the two is.


This document presumes that people already know what data sharing actually is, and thus never defines it, which… seems counterproductive.

Further reading

If you're wondering what SDC has been up to around the time of this RFC, here is an April 1971 report that they submitted to ARPA on the status of their various ARPA-related projects including many related to the Network.

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About me

I'm Darius Kazemi. I'm an independent technologist and artist. I do a lot of work on the decentralized web with both ActivityPub and the Dat Project. You can support my work via my Patreon.