Michael A. Padlipsky: A Bibliography

Michael Padlipsky (MAP or Mike to his friends) is one of the Old Network Boys of the Internet formerly known as the [D]ARPANet. (He also coined the phrase Old Network Boy to refer to his aging cronies.) This page is an (as yet incomplete) bibliographic catalog of his writings including his Book, the original papers on which it was based, his seminal thesis on SciFi as LitCrit, his other contributions to networking and operating systems history at Project MAC: MIT Multics, and to the study of malt whisky (or in American, single malt Scotch). Mike is quoted both seriously and for humo[u]r. Mike is distinguished in part to the number of times his name appears in the anchor of a URL (yes, someone did a study of the Frequency and Length of WWW Links [Error 500 now, sorry]).

This site is, of course, still under perpetual construction, not unlike Mao's Revolution? -- Last update 2000-07-11&12: Back in print; fixed RFC links; added Quotes section; and Mike's personal web page. - Feedback appreciated. If you know where a broken link went, let me know!- wdr

The Book

Mike Padlipsky's book The Elements of Networking Style (& Other Essays & Animadversions of the Art of Intercomputer Networking) (Originally published as Prentice Hall, ISBN 0-132-68129-3 hc, LC TK5105.5.P34 1985, now back in print with the BackInPrint program as ISBN 0-595-08879-1, $19.95, from iuniverse.com) is an elaboration of a number of Internet RFCs (known informally as The Teabag Papers) and other old technical working papers in MAP's inimitable "constructive snottiness" style. Ten years ago, this book predicted that the free market would choose TCP/IP over the ISO/OSI protocol set in spite of global government "standardization" because it was (a) available and (b) better (as measured by "technicoaesthetic criticism"). At the time, this was considered heresy (and rather sarcastic heresy); TCP/IP was considered a staging mechanism for the rollout of ISO-RM compliant protocols. The book is listed in the Unofficial Internet Book List.

If you like these RFC's, you will love the book, which includes cartoon illustrations (by David "Omar" White and John Bean) and slogans "suitable for framing". It is the result of making an MIT Humanities major the systems programmer for Multics for DARPANet integration: a literary look at the technological history of the information super-highway.

(The original of the title piece, Elements, is however not an RFC and thus you'll need to buy or borrow the book to get the full flavor; the Prefatory Afterthoughts applied to the articles that are indexed here, the appendices ( "Two introductions that were too good to waste" which includes"Standards: Threat or Menace?"; and "The Arouet Papers" which include "Empirical Heresy Considered Threatening", "ISORM considered Threatening" ,"Standards Committeemen Considered Dangerous" and "An Alternative encoding of '42' or The Ultimate Answer") and the rest of the package are worth it too. But then, I am partial: I introduced Mike to the Editor who bought the concept for the Book.)

The Tea-Bag Papers

The original private-circulation edition of these technical papers came with a coverpage with photocopied Salada tea-bag-tag-lines, hence the sobriquet.

These and more recent RFCs are mirrored at Ohio State as "http://www.cis.ohio-state.edu/htbin/rfc/rfc???.html" and at http://www.faqs.org/rfcs/ likewise, where the appropriate numbers replace the ???. Many other nodes e.g. devinfo.com and better CS departments have RFC repositories too. This particular set are included at UK IPv6 Resource Centre Lancaster University Computing Department.

RFC871 also appeared in Proceedings of IEEE INFOCOM '83, San Diego, CA, IEEE, New York, 1983, pp242-253.

Recent Writings

Mike's other, perhaps less funny although no less in earnest, RFC credits include:

Mike's other, less technical but still "constructively snotty" letters to the editor etc. can be found at his personal web page.

Earlier Works

Earliest Thesis on Sci-Fi as LitCrit?

Mike's earliest recorded work was his MIT Bachelor's Thesis entitle "More than Pulp: Science Fiction and the problem of Literary value", possibly the earliest academic thesis on Science Fiction as Literature. It "featured an extended 'close reading' of [Theodore Sturgeon]'s More than Human [and] shorter readings of another 4-5 s.f. pieces, and sundry scholarly stuffings."

Old Network Boy

Mike's contributions to the Net, in addition to connecting Multics as one of the first half-dozen original hosts on the DARPANet (back before they Dropped The D which was even earlier than when they added the Inter- to the Net) for which he implemented Multics Telnet, and designing the FTP protocol and one or two generations of Mail and generally kibitzing on NCP, TCP, and IP protocols, can be traced in:

A little known fact is that Dennis Ritchie, progenitor of Unix, was Mike's (junior) officemate at MIT Project Mac (Multics) until Bell Labs pulled out of the project (and thus forced Dennis to build his castrated system on the oh-dark-hundred project in a skunkworks closet in New Jersey). Another better known but not as well known as it might be is that both PR1ME Computer and Stratus were formed by ex-Multicians in the image of Multics, as was the NCSA Orange Book security requirements. Most recent advances in operating systems were first developed for Multics but not immediately implemented elsewhere and forgotten. Other Multics trivia and not so trivial info can be found in a newsgroup for Multicians and the Multicians.Org (mirror MIT Multics) homepages. Mike contributed to MIT's TimeSharing projects (CTSS) before Multics on a 7094 (mirrored best, lilli). Mike contributed to the Multics Programmers Manual.

The Quotable Padlipsky

Mike's letters to the editor are collected on his personal web page.

Various Usenet/Unix Quotes/Fortune files and other works reference Padlipsky:

[B]eware of the panacea peddlers: just because you wind up naked doesn't make you an emperor. -- Michael A Padlipsky

Every site is unique, and every network will have a different design. Or, as Michael Padlipsky has observed, "Optimality differs according to context." [op cit.] A smaller campus with fewer buildings and computers will have a different overall network architecture than UTnet. However, a common element that occurs in every successful network architecture is the establishment of a network hierarchy. UTexas UTnet

As M. A. Padlipsky has pointed out in criticism of other aspects of ISO negotiation, the national PTT organizations (which understandably think in terms primarily of sequential-by-character streams of information) seem to have an overwhelming voice in drowning out the protests of computer types who would like to be able to use arbitrary array addresses to access any part of a text file without having to read it through from the beginning every time to make sure that the array index doesn't just happen to land in the middle of a multiple octet sequence. -- Greek Unicode discussion

[T]here are no public domain ODA systems, no publicly available "kernels" or parser kits that help you build applications on top of it, no newsgroup for it, no FTP sites, no nothing. I know of no trade rags for ODA, there is very little, if any, coverage of it in the major trade rags, and those who talk about it make me think of Michael Padlipsky, who in 1985 said about OSI: "oversold, underdesigned, & years from here." (M. A. Padlipsky: The Elements of Networking Style (and other essasy & animadversions on the Art of Intercomputer Networking); Prentice Hall, 1985. ISBN 0-13-268111-0.) -- re Looking for Office/Open Document Architecture - ISO 8613

Some academics, such as Padlipsky, have argued that the OSI is excessively complex, and that the ARM developed in Cambridge, was a more suitable model. However, most modern communications systems other than the Internet (A large exception) are moving toward compliance with OSI. -- INT 2060 at Middlesex U

But is there anything outside the internet anymore? :-) I like Mike's statement, which I'll paraphrase "If you know what you're doing, 3 layers is enough; if you don't, 17 layers won't help you." Academic? I don't think that's fair, in his day, seating on the NWG's was limited to working systems programs, no marketing wonks need apply. See the next quote.

Mike is quite the primary source himself. It seems he may have had as much to do with inventing networked electronic mail back around 1972 as Ray Tomlinson did, not to mention Mike invented anonymous FTP. -- John Quarterman on Mike and Network History at USENIX

On Networking Architecture
``Do you want protocols that look nice or protocols that work nice?''
Mike Padlipsky, internet architect -- Quote file

Brace yourselves. We're about to try something that borders on the unique: an actually rather serious technical book which is not only (gasp) vehemently anti-Solemn, but also (shudder) takes sides. I tend to think of it as `Constructive Snottiness.' -- Mike Padlipsky, Foreword to "Elements of Networking Style" -- Fortunes

Padlipsky's corollary to Murphy's law: Every silver lining has a cloud around it.
-- Phrases of Humour and Wisdom

Mike also has a corollary for Sturgeon's Law. Sturgeon's reply to "90% of Science Fiction is Crap" was "90% of Everything is Crap. Padlipsky's Corollary to Sturgeon's Law is that Sturgeon's Law must be applied recursively.

Risks Digest #1.16 on SDI and SAGE

Nature of the Design Process quoted in Suppercommentary on IETF

All webhits for Padlipsky (which are almost 100% Mike, mostly RFC copies) can be found at AltaVista. References in Usenet can be found via DejaNews.

and then there's the Pun of the Year, 1986 below.

Current Research: Single Malt Scotch

Michael's tasting notes on Single Malt Scotch, after a decade of being passed hand-to-hand, are featured at the Edinburgh malt whisky tour site, and mirrored on his personal homepage (as is this page of mine, just to be safe).

The Relevance of Single Malt Scotch to Intercomputer Networking (and the Pun of the Year 1986):

I was asked to give a talk at Edinburgh University, since I was going to be in the neighborhood to do field work in my real area of research interest, what we call single malt Scotch and what they call malt whisky. Having mentioned why I was around at the start of the talk, I was delighted to be invited to take a dram afterwards by a rather seniorlooking gent, up in his office, which turned out to be quite a posh one, making me assume he was quite senior. Since he had an appointment in a few minutes and I was supposed to go off to the pub with my local cohorts, we didn't even take time to sit, just exchanged a few pleasantries about our respective books and a thought or two about the particular malt whisky he'd happened to have in his desk. At the pub, I mentioned the incident to the gang and was informed that my host had been their new Professor of Computer Science, which, I might not know, was a relatively more distinguished rank there than in the States. I replied that I had known that, but was pleased with the information anyway since it would make the event all the more memorable. Then I added that I had just realized I'd have had to remember it forever anyway, since it was, after all, the first talk I'd ever given that had received a standing libation. -- MAP

Also online again is Mike's Prolegomena to "The Malt and I" formerly at whiskeynet.com. (A slow mirror; it's other pages are stale copies.)

Other resources on Malt Whisky on the net which reference Mike's tasting notes include a malts-l mailing list (link fixed,moved), Whisky - Scottish Culture - Net Links, Bokks About Malt Whisky (in Deutsch), Scotland.org , My Whisky Notes (in English from .DE), Intressanta länkar (Swedish).

Comments on the page to Bill, the page author. Personal comments to Mike can be addressed to Mike Padlipsky <ba213@lafn.org> or map@multicians.org.
Contents of this page are drawn largely from the NWG/IETF public record; the remainder and current form are Copyright © 1996,2000 by William Ricker.