Interview with Wouter Wijngaards, developer at NLnetLabs, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Newcomer at the IETF


Date: May 7, 2006

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Question: Why did you attend the IETF and how did you find out about it?

Wouter: I am working for NLnetLabs and my boss told me the IETF is a place where a lot of DNS-related topics are being discussed. So, I wanted to find out what is going on in this area.

Question: Is DNS your main area of expertise?

Wouter: Yes, I attended all the DNS-related WGs: dns-ops, dns-ext. And WGs that deal with protocols that use the DNS for different purposes (e.g. hip, shim6, some other v6 related WGs). It was interesting to sit in those WGs, but I could better follow the discussions at the DNS WGs, because I had actually read all the current documents.

Question: How useful was it for your work and your area of expertise to attend the IETF?

Wouter: It was not essential to attend the WGs, because most discussions are also taking place on the mailing lists. To meet the people was the most important thing for me. That was really essential. And the WGs are a good place to see everyone who is involved in this area. I had a chance to meet various people that I would normally only communicate with via e-mail: people who wrote the specifications for the software I am currently working on (NSD), people who use that software and people who are basically DNS experts and I could get advice from. I think the Software I am writing will be more interoperable after having been at the IETF and having spoken to all these people.

Question: Compared to other conferences what did you find different at the IETF?

Wouter: In the past I attended mostly scientific conference. At those conferences people present information and ideas. Researchers and scientists want to explain their ideas and projects. They usually give an overview of a certain idea and may skip over some details. Whereas at the IETF the approach is different: Assume everyone has read the document, lets discuss and go right into the nitty-gritty details. And often it is easier and more productive to discuss in person rather than over a mailing list.

Question: What did you like most about the IETF?

Wouter: there were lots of laptops. There might have been more laptops than people. And it is a more relaxed and less formal atmosphere. Even less formal than at scientific conference. At scientific conferences people do not sing at plenary sessions.

Question: Was there anything that you did not like or that could be improved? Especially for you as a newcomer?

Wouter: That is difficult to say, because my boss already introduced me to things before the meeting (e.g. he told me to read the documents). I found the latter days a little boring, since I was mostly interested in the DNS related WGs, and they were all on the same day pretty early in the week.

Question: Did you attend the Newcomers Presentation on Sunday?

Wouter: Yes, I did and it was very useful, for instance to learn about the whole process and how decision are made (“rough consensus and running code”). I also attended the xml2RFC tutorial. It was very good. Sounded like a this is a pretty good tool. I will start using it.