As the Industrial Revolution began to gain momentum, thinkers often decried technological progress as an “atomizing force” that split communities by emphasizing the individual over the group. Living alone in a crowd is documented in a number of books—including Bowling Alone, Alone Together, and Antisocial Media. Perhaps there is no more poignant expression of atomization than Moby & the Void Pacific Choir’s “Are You Lost in the World Like Me?

The truth is, however, that while protocol designers may talk about these things, and network designers study them, very few networks today are built using any of these models. What is often used instead is what might be called the Infinitely Layered Functional Indirection (ILFI) model of network engineering. In this model, nothing is solved at a particular layer of the network if it can be moved to another layer, whether successfully or not.

Early on in my career as a network engineer, I learned the value of sharing… For instance, when I could not figure out why a particular application was not working correctly, it was always useful to blame the application. Conversely, the application owner was often quite willing to share their problems with me, as well, by blaming the network. A more cynical way of putting this kind of sharing is the way RFC 1925, rule 6 puts is: “It is easier to move a problem around than it is to solve it.”