Apocalypse of the two elephants

Just because of its name, I love this theory, I don't know how much it is actually worth, but maybe the IPv6 people should pay some attention.

Everything below (image too) is an excerpt from Computer Networks Fourth Edition by the god of undergrad CS texts, Andrew Tanenbaum, Published by Prentice Hall ISBN 0-13-066102-3 and all copyrights etc are owned by them and not me.

The time at which a standard is established is absolutely critical to its success. David Clark of M.I.T. has a theory of standards that he calls the apocalypse of the two elephants, and which is illustrated in Fig. 1-23.

This figure shows the amount of activity surrounding a new subject. When the subject is first discovered, there is a burst of research activity in the form of discussions, papers, and meetings. After a while this subsides, corporations discover the subject, and the billion-dollar wave of investment hits.

It is essential that the standards be written in the trough between the two ‘‘elephants.’’ If they are written too early, before the research is finished, the subject may still be poorly understood, which leads to bad standards. If they are written too late, so many companies may have already made major investments in different ways of doing things that the standards are effectively ignored. If the interval between the two elephants is very short (because everyone is in a hurry to get started), the people developing the standards may get crushed.

It now appears that the standard OSI protocols got crushed. The competing TCP/IP protocols were already in widespread use by research universities by the time the OSI protocols appeared. While the billion-dollar wave of investment had not yet hit, the academic market was large enough that many vendors had begun cautiously offering TCP/IP products. When OSI came around, they did not want to support a second protocol stack until they were forced to, so there were no initial offerings. With every company waiting for every other company to go first, no company went first and OSI never happened.