The Internet World
“The natives over there are cannibals. They eat liars with the same enthusiasm as they eat honest men.” – Captain Nemo (James Mason) – 20000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)
The Internet wasn’t developed to be a dangerous place. The Internet lost its innocence early on. Today you get attacks from every side. We expect so much from the fiber optic pipe connection – business, information, entertainment. We have to constantly be on guard for the cannibals.
It wasn’t developed for spammers/scammers which Australia-based Marshal’s Threat Research and Content Engineering Team estimates will represent up to 90% of the email by the end of the year. It wasn’t developed for you to use to buy/sell stuff on eBay, Amazon and the tens of thousands of web-based storefronts. It wasn’t developed for folks to put dumb/dumber and viral ads on for you to download from YouTube. It wasn’t developed so you could buy/sell/steal music, videos, movies from iTunes, Real, Napster, radio stations, TV networks, Hollywood and the myriad of indie sites. But like its original design concept…it has adapted to new business models, new user demands. Or as Prof. Pierre Aronnax said in 2000 Leagues…“There is great genius behind all this.”
It’s one of the few government projects that really succeeded because they started it, stood back and let people who were really smart make it work. Most of the folks who now want to make huge bucks off Web 2.0 never waded through the difficulty of CompuServe. Only the “real” members of the press had addresses at The Well. And none of these folks ever thought that the network of networks would have so many cannibals out there ready to have them for lunch!Never seen the Internet? Here it is!The Internet’s strength, flexibility and elegance is in the simplicity of its basic design – a network of networks. Like the nebulae and galaxies that surround us the Internet cloud is in a constant state of change. It’s a frickin masterpiece of ingenuity. People like Vint Cert, Push Mohta and the other early implementers couldn’t have possibly imagined its impact. First they wired up research institutions and college campuses. Then they shared the instant communications capabilities with businesses. Then they put it into the hands or ordinary folks like us. There’s no going back. Despite the doomsday prophets there is no killing it.
Some “people” try though. They develop insidious rootkits that mess up a few servers, bring people down periodically and in general mess up your life. Fortunately there are too many of us and too few of them. And there are more and more of us every day doing business, gaining our education, and being entertained every day.
The Internet population and usage continues to grow. Originally envisioned as a means of continual, fluid solution for educational, research information exchange. Business found it as a way to flatten organizations and speed/improve internal/external communications. Now it is the everything solution for information and increasingly entertainment.
Really creative people use the pipes and technology for commerce, music, TV and new/newer applications. Today we do almost everything on the iNet. Young people have been raised on the Internet and can’t imagine a world without its instant connectivity. It is used for personal, business communications. It is the first place we go first for any and all information, music, photos, video or data.
If it isn’t there it probably isn’t worth knowing…worth reading…worth listening too…worth watching! At least that’s what our kids say and what do we know?
It’s the place to hear and be heard. See and be seen. Just ask Yahoo and Google. Just ask businesses of every shape, size, location. Just ask every musician, artist, news/information organization, entertainment enterprise. It’s where the line is also drawn. People, organizations want to monetize it. People raised on the Internet like our kids expect it to be free.
Stewart Brand at the first Hackers’ Conference in ’84 spelled out the dilemma that remains a battleground even today…”On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it’s so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other.”
But free isn’t an option. Not in our free enterprise world. Especially if really expect personalized entertainment to be the new frontier.
People everywhere are quickly realizing that IPTV (actually it’s video on demand) is the ideal way to watch what you want…where you want…when you want. IPTV or personalized video on demand is expanding in popularity giving content sources and marketers new ways to reach specific market segments in a more flexible manner – anywhere, anytime it is convenient for the viewer.
Producing that stuff takes time, effort and money…even when it is your video up on YouTube or MySpace or …. More importantly, it takes a robust delivery infrastructure. Broadband is pretty universally available in nearly every country. With broadband service now available to billions of people around the globe (except places like Connecticut) people are able to expand their entertainment options with music, news, video, TV and movies from around the globe.
In the U.S. and Canada there is enough dark fiber in the ground (fiber optic cable waiting to be used) to handle the most aggressive video demand growth – including HighDef – to homes. Of course the last 100 ft needs some serious investment. Investment ain’t free!
Then too there are firms that use their information to conduct business. And those who think they should make a buck (or two) from their content. Encryption, things like VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) and similar efforts/activities work very well for businesses.
The Internet has delivered on its initial promise of anyone, anywhere connectivity for business, information, education and entertainment. The challenge for most organizations, especially sellers reaching out to buyers, is delivering information and content that can be monetized without being compromised/stolen.
When it comes to entertainment content the two sides Stewart discussed really fight dirty. As quickly as a new and better DRM (Digital Rights Management) solution is unveiled; another kid with time on his/her hands cracks it and offers the picklocks to the world. The minority who feel they deserve everything free will steal. The majority who feel a fair price is fair will pay their token at the iNet toll booth. Everyone has an answer. When you look closely at them they are about like Kirk Douglas’ in 2000 Leagues…“I do have a plan. Trouble is; it won’t work.”
The idea of raising the morality of the thieves probably won’t work. Having them eliminated is a little too drastic. Maybe there is no solution that will satisfy both sides 100%. If not let’s just get beyond the issue and focus on using our content in the best, most productive, most entertainment way we can. There is one “little” issue though that money and muscle can’t solve. Broadband is readily available. The pipes are big. They are getting bigger. More are being laid and lit every day. So what’s the problem?Every country is building out high speed connectivity. The challenge comes when communications and content have to cross three quarters of the globe. Laying, monitoring, managing and maintaining the fiber optic cables that crisscross the ocean floor is difficult…and expensive. Information can be free…but at a cost! Notice anything?
Right the biggest area of the globe is blue! Over ¾ of the world is water. Some of it 20,000 leagues DEEP!!! Ringing the Pacific Basin we have what is called a ring of fire. It is an unstable underwater land mass that is constantly shifting – sometimes subtly, sometimes violently.
The same is true in every oceanic area of the globe. Crisscrossing the underwater land masses are hundreds of puny little fiber optic cables that carry our stuff from one country to another. It’s expensive to lay. It’s expensive to monitor. It’s expensive to repair. People in Asia found that out when an underwater quake severed a big bunch of critical lines.
Life and business didn’t come to a screeching halt while ships hunted for and repaired the breaks (remember the Internet cloud?) but it was damn inconvenient. Alternate pipes were overloaded. People screamed. People hollered. People ranted. People raved. Captain Nemo simply said, “Think of it. On the surface there is hunger and fear. Men still exercise unjust laws. They fight, tear one another to pieces. A mere few feet beneath the waves their reign ceases, their evil drowns. Here on the ocean floor is the only independence.”
When Cerf was working on the East Coast and Mohta was bumping around Southern California in a beat up VW installing modems and routers, they knew they were onto something big. They didn’t know Al Gore had already invented the Internet. They didn’t know businesses worldwide would come to rely on their fledgling network. They didn’t know people would turn to it for their information, their entertainment. They also didn’t know that a little crack in the ground five miles underwater could have such an effect on people’s lives. Fortunately, the Internet is a network of networks and not just a few fiber optic cables. But in a pinch there will be priorities and tiered service levels. So much for information freedom!