Jeff's Laws

Over the years I have conjured up a list of cute saying that I call “Jeff’s Laws.” You might find them interesting...

Jeff’s Law of Clerical Work: Clerical Work is done by Clerical Workers!

Over the years I have seen, particularly in the security space, proposals that require “a person of trust” or a “person in a position of authority” to do some process. For example, checking a person’s ID before issuing them a digital certificate. This law basically says that these tasks are fundamentally clerical tasks and will *always* be delegated to clerical workers. “People of Authority” don’t check ID’s!

People will not pay a “random” Bill:

If you are a service provider and you charge for your services, there must be a metric that the consumer can see and measure that translates into an amount charged. Things like “connect minutes” and “quarts of oil” work because people can see and measure them. However if an ISP were to bill a consumer on the basis of bytes consumed, they would rebel. Although there are obvious situations where the consumer can understand bits and bytes usage, as in a video is big and an e-mail message is small, most cases are not that easy. To the end user, a webpage with little video windows is the same as a webpage dominated by text. So they should cost the same...

This is in part why we see consumer ISP services charged on a roughly flat rate when it comes to broadband. Download data caps are another matter.... for another post.

Jeff’s Law of Hierarchies:

“In any hierarchical control structure, the root will be occupied by a reptile, or will be eaten by a reptile who will takes its place...”

This alludes to the situation where one business is in an asymmetric relationship with another. As in you have to do business with them, but they do not have to do business with you. The original Privacy Enhanced Mail (PEM) had a certificate hierarchy. Although there are many reasons why PEM (and secure mail in general) has had some trouble catching on, it didn’t help that in the original PEM system there was one “root” authority, which was pretty reptilian from the beginning.

On the Internet we have hierarchies in the issuance of IP addresses and DNS names. Guess who is at the top!

Btw. How DNS names are allocated, via a competitive registrar system is an interesting way to mitigate the reptile effect... something we should ponder as ways to deal with other natural hierarchies that we find ourselves in...

And now a flippant one:

“On the Internet, Clue remains a Constant, we just spread it thinner as more people join...”

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