A key feature of ARPANET design collaboration was the careful documenting of design debates. The Network Working Group, which solved problems in linking computers to the ARPANET, fully documented its work starting in 1966 to help solve problems that they expected other network users would later encounter. By 1969, when the ARPANET became operational, proposals for technical and social norms for information exchange were instituted in the Request For Comments (RFC) documents that were soon distributed online. Graduate student Steve Crocker set the tone of the RFCs when describing a Network Working Group meeting (comprised mostly of other graduate students) about communication between host computers and IMPs: "I present here some of the tentative agreements reached and some of the open questions encountered. Very little of what is here is firm and reactions are expected." In RFC 3 of April 1969, entitled "Document Conventions," Crocker wrote:
The content of a NWG note [the early name for RFC] may be any thought, suggestion, etc. related to the HOST software or other aspect of the network. Notes are encouraged to be timely rather than polished. Philosophical positions without examples or other specifics, specific suggestions or implementation techniques without introductory or background explication, and explicit questions without any attempted answers are all acceptable. … These standards (or lack of them) are stated explicitly for two reasons. First, there is a tendency to view a written statement as ipso facto authoritative, and we hope to promote the exchange and discussion of considerably less than authoritative ideas. Second, there is a natural hesitancy to publish something unpolished, and we hope to ease this inhibition.These early RFCs sent a welcoming signal to others interested in contributing to and improving the ARPANET. Brian Reid, later a Carnegie Mellon graduate student and a participant in MsgGroup, told them "I did not feel excluded by a little core of protocol kings. I felt included by a friendly group of people who recognized that the purpose of networking was to bring everybody in."
See especially the bolded section, which beautifully describes the tone of a modern weblog entry. This reinforces my belief (see my previous entry on WS-Complexity) that the open-ended collaborative process shaping today's Web services specifications (WS-*) is following in the footsteps of the IETF collaborative process that was an essential, but usually overlooked, part of the Internet's success versus formal standards organizations' collaborative efforts such as ISO's OSI.