Future of the Internet
TECHNOLOGICAL advancement has become a truism of modern life.
Moore’s Law — which states that that the number of transistors on an
integrated circuit for minimum component cost doubles every 24 months
— was profound when it was coined by one of Intel’s founders in 1965.
Today, it has proven so consistently accurate that it has been
extended to related phenomena like processor speed and storage
capacity. And it has lost its ability to shock.
We have grown accustomed to our Internet connections getting faster
and our laptop computers getting smaller. New, high density storage
media allow all forms of content (books, magazines, music, videos,
movies, software and virtually anything that can be represented
digitally) to be stored, shipped and exchanged physically and,
increasingly, electronically. Programmable digital devices do
everything from defrosting dinner and opening doors to answering the
phone and organising our calendars.
The media world has not been immune to this revolution. As advances
in digital technology have changed the way people communicate,
consumer expectations about media consumption have begun to change.
Take the telephone. The traditional world of international phone
services has itself been turned on its head by the rapid expansion of
the Internet and the spread of broadband Internet access services.
Mobile telephones, meanwhile, have become general purpose
instruments for all manner of digital presentations and interactions,
from sending SMS messages to viewing or downloading feature-length
films. The maturation of these technologies — which will doubtless
occur alongside the introduction of new creative technologies — will
open up new audiences for a variety of media.
Another emergent trend is the increasing autonomy and control
consumers are gaining over their consumption of traditional mass
media whose producers, heretofore, have had the upper hand in deciding
what we will see, hear and read and when we will do that. The Internet
itself has shown us that users enjoy deciding for themselves what
will capture their attention, including advertising.
Putting users in charge is a huge shift for the information
industry, in general, and especially for the advertising industry
which has had to find ways to attract user attention when it cannot
force users to watch or listen to advertisements that interrupt the
programme for an important announcement, so to speak.
The enduringly popular broadcast media will continue to thrive,
complemented by new forms of entertainment and information
consumption. Look at the Internet over the past five years: Blogs and
(more recently) video-sharing websites have opened up new creative
outlets to tens of millions of people around the world (see The art
of getting noticed — P13).
At the same time, the appetite for professionally-produced content
— be it news reporting or romantic comedies — continues to grow.
Audiences have more choice, not only over what to consume, but also
how they consume it. Regardless of the specific medium people choose,
however, there will always be demand for high-quality content.
These media-specific effects of technological progress exist
alongside more general issues that face the Internet as it continues
to grow and taken on new functions. These, too, will effect the media
industry as it interacts more with its audiences through the Web.
Privacy will continue to be an important concern for users of the
Internet. These concerns will create important ethical dilemmas for
companies that naturally collect personal information about Internet
users in the normal course of their operation. The robustness and
security of the Internet will climb in importance as we rely
increasingly on it and its services. These systems are often
notoriously vulnerable to various kinds of failures and subject to a
variety of attacks. The computer science community is challenged to
devise solutions to these problems.
The information we seek so readily on the World Wide Web may vary
in quality from completely useless or even damaging to stunningly
valuable. It is our problem to determine which, although the search
engines do their best to draw the most relevant to our attention. It
seems inevitable that the netizens of the world will look for
improvements in identifying the authenticity of the sources of online
information and assurances that it has not been modified since its
incarnation on the Net.
As we accumulate more information online, we may encounter a kind
of “information decay” in which digital objects become less and less
interpretable owing to the age of the software that created it. As an
example: It is already a challenge to play the videos posted on the
BBC website in 1997. Imagine trying to access the same video in one
hundred years. Or in one thousand.
These are just some of the issues that we’ll have to wrap our minds
around in the coming years, as technologists, indeed, but also as a
society. Every year, humanity produces more information. How we choose
to share it, or find it, or remember it, or interpret it are questions
that are too important not to answer.
(CERF is now chief Internet evangelist at search giant Google
Inc. He tested the first Internet hookups in 1969 when he was a
graduate student at UCLA. Then, as a professor at Stanford University
in the 1970s, he led a team that invented the protocols, known as
TCP/IP, which now serve as the Internet’s basic communication tools.
The topic of his paper at WCIT 2008 is "Tracking the Internet into the
Among the show highlights
SOME 2,500 delegates are expected to attend the World Congress on
Information Technology 2008. The congress is a signature forum of the
World Information Technology and Services Alliance — a consortium of
73 IT industry associations that represent over 90% of the world’s IT
WCIT 2008 will take place at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre
from May 18-22.
In conjunction with the event, 13 satellite events will take place
at the same venue. One of these is the International Advisory Panel
meeting — an international body set up in the late 1990s to provide
counsel to the Government on legislation and policies to develop MSC
Malaysia-specific practices, and to set standards for multimedia
There’s also the United Nations Global Alliance For ICT
(information and communications technology) and Development
conference which will discuss the “digital divide" — that gap between
the technology haves and have-nots.
Plus, there is a global summit organised by Mobile Monday — a
mobile industry special interest group — which will discuss marketing
over mobile phones and other consumer-privacy issues, amongst other
topics; and the World Cybersecurity Summit.
In addition to that, a technology showcase will be held at the
WCIT 2008 is organised by the Multimedia Development Corp —
custodian of the MSC Malaysia initiative — and Pikom (the Association
of the Computer and Multimedia Industry of Malaysia), with support
from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.
© Source: www.wcit2008.org.