Internet Architecture Board

RFC2850

Show me the numbers: Workshop on Analyzing IETF Data (AID), 2021

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The IETF as an international Standards Developing Organization hosts diverse data on the history, development, and current activities in the development and standardization of Internet protocols and its institutions. A large portion of this data is publicly available, yet this data is arguably underutilized as a tool to inform the work in the IETF and research on topics like Internet governance and trends in ICT standard-setting.

This workshop aims to enable engineers and researchers alike to mine the IETF’s data sources in order to explore trends through the analysis of IETF data, such as email archives, I-Ds, RFCs, and the datatracker. This work can be used to derive insights into the inner workings of the process of standardization, participation, and governance1. This workshop aims to bring together people who have already analyzed IETF data, those who are interested in the analysis of IETF data, and those who are interested in the results of such analysis as input for improvement of the IETF’s work.

We invite the research community, IETF participants, and others with an interest in the data collected by the IETF, its protocols, and participants, to submit a contribution to the workshop. Furthermore, we also welcome participants who are interested in the analysis that could be performed based on this data as well as those contributing considerations regarding future collection and handling of IETF data.

Possible avenues for explorations include, but are not limited to:

  1. What are patterns for participation in the IETF (what are predictors for a long and productive tenure, when do people stop participating, what is needed to successfully produce RFCs)?
  2. How is the IETF community developing (i.e., affiliations, publications, language, nationality, leadership positions)?
  3. How do affiliations develop in the IETF (i.e., does a change in affiliation translate into a change in behavior, is there a relation between affiliation and leadership positions and/or centrality, what is the affiliation distribution per area and/or WG)?
  4. What social dynamics (gender, nationality, income, occupation, and other social dynamics) are not captured by IETF data and what data and research approaches are needed to develop further insights in the social dynamics of standardization?
  5. How productive and effective is the IETF, with respect to documents, pages, words, letters and in comparison the overall activities e.g. on mailing lists?
  6. How well is the outcome of the IETF used, e.g,. based on references to RFCs in research papers, product manuals, or other sources?
  7. What data would be relevant to collect that is not collected yet or what should be considered with respect to handling of personal data during the data collection and research.
  8. How effective is the IETF’s consensus-based decision making process? Is there evidence that documents receive broad and effective reviews? Are experts with relevant expertise engaging with developing standards in a timely manner?

Participation and Submission

People interested in participation are requested to submit short position papers (500-1000 words). The paper can cover one or multiple of the following points, but this list should not be considered exhaustive:

  1. Research questions and interests in IETF data; indication which question should be answered, the data needed to do so, and how these insights could be used to improve processes and operations;
  2. Description of the IETF data they aim to analyze or the information they would like to see made available to inform their work (such as mailing list archives, or participation data obtained through the datatracker) and their methods for doing so (see footnote 1);
  3. Potential and preliminary findings; and how those insights could either benefit leadership, WG chairs, and authors/participants, and/or society and industry at large;
  4. Potential or preliminary findings and how those add novel insights to ongoing academic debates.

Proposals for data analysis should also contain a brief consideration of any related ethics and privacy issues. The basic principles of ethical research are outlined in the Belmont Report2 (covering e.g., respect for persons, beneficence, and justice) and/or institutional ethics guidelines.

The workshop will be invitation-only. The organizers will decide whom to invite based on the submissions received. Therefore, please indicate your interest by submitting a research proposal by September 29, 2021 to aid-workshop-pc@iab.org.

The Program Committee members are Niels ten Oever (chair, University of Amsterdam), Colin Perkins (chair, IRTF, University of Glasgow), Corinne Cath (chair, Oxford Internet Institute), Mirja Kühlewind (IAB, Ericsson), Zhenbin Li (IAB, Huawei), Wes Hardaker (IAB, USC/ISI).

All inputs submitted and considered relevant will be published on the workshop web page. Sessions will be organized according to content, and not every accepted submission or invited attendee will have an opportunity to present as the intent is to foster discussion and not simply to have a sequence of presentations.

Position papers from those unable to attend in person are encouraged. A workshop report will be published afterwards.

Logistics

  • Submissions Due: 29 September 2021
  • Invitations Issued by: 15 October 2021
  • Workshop Date: November 29 – December 2 2021
  • Location: Online and at the University of Amsterdam (COVID-19 permitting).

The workshop will consist of three parts:

  1. opening workshop (Monday)
  2. hackathon (Tuesday – Thursday morning)
  3. closing event (Thursday afternoon)

Feel free to contact the program committee with any further questions (including questions related to available data or expected outcomes): aid-workshop-pc@iab.org


1 Examples of such approaches are: https://www.arkko.com/tools/docstats.html, http://datactive.github.io/bigbang/, https://csperkins.org/research/protocol-standards/2020-12-10-ignacio-iesg-talk/2020-12-10_IESG-50-years-IETF-send.pdf, https://sodestream.github.io/impact-of-early-engagement-on-longevity-of-ietf-participation.html

2 https://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/sites/default/files/the-belmont-report-508c_FINAL.pdf