The Importance of Protocols


Summary

Protocol is all around us in the conventions we use everyday to interact with people. Protocol creates a framework within which different agents can interact and accomplish some purpose. Protocol allows me to interact in a store where the checker and I speak different languages. I only need to understand her when we need to depart from the protocol. Inside the protocol, everything is syntactic. Outside the protocol, semantics matter.

Kaufland Grocery Store in Munich Germany

I'm in Munich at European Identity Conference. There's a big grocery store right next door (yes, that's it in the picture to the right). During the break, Steve and I walked over to grab a snack. Here's what happened: I put my ice cream bar and Diet Coke on the belt, the checker rung them up, I handed her some cash, she handed me some change, she asked if I needed a bag, I said "no, thanks", and then we were done.

You're probably thinking "the sounds pretty normal." And it is, with one exception: she was interacting with me in German and it didn't matter. I had no need to understand her words in order to interact with her and understand what was happening. That's the importance of protocol.

Protocol is all around us in the conventions we use everyday to interact with people. Protocol creates a framework within which different agents can interact and accomplish some purpose. Protocol allows me to interact in a store where the checker and I speak different languages. I only need to understand her when we need to depart from the protocol. Inside the protocol, everything is syntactic. Outside the protocol, semantics matter.