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OT: time and computer networks

hi folks,

ok...  this is way OT.  but I thought I'd put this question to the
most knowledgable group of people I know...

I have to give a lecture on the history of timekeeping technologies.
I want to end with late c.20/ early c21 technologies of synchronized
timekeeping.  GPS is one obvious example, NTP is another.  But
puttingthe lecture together I realized I don'trelaly understand why
it's important for computer networks to have fine-grain
synchronization.  So I thought I'd ask some geeks (as my sig says, I'm
only a hemi-geek):  why does a network need careful clock
synchronization?  Are packets like railroad cars -- in the sense that
it's VERY important to know which got sent first, and which is ocming
next -- and if you screw up the timeable, you get a catastrophe?  Or
is there more flexibility in the system?  

anyway, it's just a question.  I'd love to hear some answers.  


 .''`.       Matt Price 
: :'  :      Debian User
`. `'` 	     & hemi-geek
if you're an evil spambot, these addresses are for you:  aardvark@derailleur.org, zeus@derailleur.org

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