by Darius Kazemi, Feb 25 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.

A bit of a hit-and-run

RFC-56 is by Ed Belove and Dave Black of Harvard University, and Bob Flegel and Lamar G. Farquar of University of Utah. It's dated June 1970 (no more specific date than that). It's titled “Third Level Protocol: Logger Protocol”.

The technical content

This is outlining something called a “logger protocol” but it doesn't seem to have anything to do with “logging” in the modern sense of keeping automated statistics and notes on what is happening with a computer program.

Instead this is a way “to allow a user teletype to communicate with a foreign monitor”. I assume this is using “monitor” in its operating systems sense from this era: a monitor is a piece of software deep in the core of an operating system that keeps an eye out (“monitors”) for what programs are doing.

It proposes, among other things:


This is an odd RFC. It seems out of touch with the rest of the series in tone, style, jargon, and also content. Broadly, and ask risk of sounding harsh, this RFC seems entirely irrelevant to the discourse in the NWG at the moment of publication. What this RFC is proposing is adding an extra layer of complexity on top of the Host-Host protocol in order to accomplish precisely what, to my reading, the Host-Host protocol was designed for. The only thing it really would do in addition to the base protocol is make the whole thing more restrictive in terms of local implementations, and would in fact require local implementations to know ahead of time certain information about their remote host (such as what its 'break' character is). This may have made some amount of sense a year prior when there was no consensus, but this is coming right after 3 months of painstaking consensus-building.

The fact that these authors would never author another RFC does seem to corroborate that this was a bit of a hit-and-run.

(Another David Black would co-author RFC 2474 in 1998 but it seems from his online resume that he is not the same David Black who was at Harvard in 1970.)

How to follow this blog

You can subscribe to this blog's RSS feed or if you're on a federated ActivityPub social network like Mastodon or Pleroma you can search for the user “@365-rfcs@write.as” and follow it there.

About me

I'm Darius Kazemi. I'm a Mozilla Fellow and I do a lot of work on the decentralized web with both ActivityPub and the Dat Project.