Tag Archives | Internet

Twenty Years Ago Today, the Idea That Became the Web Was Born

Tim Berners-LeeOver at Cnet, Charles Cooper has a nice post on a meaningful historical tidbit: Twenty years ago today, Tim Berners-Lee, who was working at the European Organization for Nuclear Research near Geneva, Switzerland, submitted a proposal to his bosses on how the organization could do a better job of keeping track of information. It involved publishing documents online with links to tie everything together, and it was the idea which eventually turned into the World Wide Web.

If you were trying to determine the twentieth anniversary of the Web, you probably wouldn’t decide it was today. (Another possibility would be August 6th, 2011–the day that marks two decades since Berners-Lee’s first Web site went live on the Internet.)  But his 1989 memo remains good reading, and the fact that his plan to change how CERN used information turned out to change how the world uses information is as inspiring as stories about technology get.

I’m about to board an airplane to go to the South by Southwest Conference in Austin, and have been brooding about the fact that I’ll be deprived of the Web for just a few hours while we’re in flight. It’s startling to remember that something as essential as the Web is so new–and that the guy who came up with it is not only still with us but very much involved in shaping its future.

Thanks, Sir Tim! I feel like I owe you my career–because if there weren’t a Web, there sure wouldn’t be a Technologizer…


NASA Tests Interplanetary Internet

Big Blue MarbleIt might not be subspace communications, but NASA has successfully tested a deep space communications network that it says is the first step toward the creation of an interplanetary Internet.

Today, NASA announced that engineers from its Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., had transmitted images to a NASA science spacecraft that was located more than 20 million miles away. The engineers used the Disruption-Tolerant Networking (DTN) protocol, which was co-developed with Internet co-founder Vint Cerf, to transmit the data.

I’m always happy to learn of instances of the U.S. government giving scientists the time and resources to focus on their work. Research, while not always something that can be ‘productized,’ drives innovation. An interplanetary Internet might not be a practical venture yet, but neither was the original Internet when Cerf and others got it going forty years ago..

On this celestial body, DTN could be useful in situations where network connectivity is spotty. I’m not an expert, but it sounds like it could be useful for bringing the Internet to rural areas, and that is a good thing.

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Technologizer Predictions: What Could Be in 2009

Technologizer PredictionsBack on December 31st, I asked the Technologizer community to make technology-related predictions for the year ahead. You made scads of them–from ones that seem like sure bets for 2009 to ones that might never come to be. Highlights follow after the jump–thanks to everyone who contributed. Once 2010 rolls around, let’s rate the accuracy of these predictions, then start prognosticating all over again. 

Oh, and we have a winner for the Seagate FreeAgent XTreme external desktop hard drive I promised to give away in a random drawing. It goes to Dave Moyer–congratulations!

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Undersea Cable Failure Causes Mideast Internet Chaos

Well it looks like it has happened again, and nobody knows why just yet — another undersea cable — this time three of them — that run between Asia and North America have been cut. Only one cable remains, which is causing big problems for the Internet worldwide, and in some cases, cutting countries off altogether.

These cables handle about 75 percent of the traffic between Europe, Asia, and North America. They are located in the Medittereanean Sea between Sicily and Tunisia. Companies that own the cables can currently not give any time frame for restoration of service, however service could be back to normal by the end of the year.

Sabotage is possible, but it appears that officials are believing that a boat anchor may have been the ultimate cause. The worst effects seem to be in traffic passing from the European continent to the Middle East.

Traffic in the meantime will need to be rerouted, which could close slowdowns in Internet connections worldwide as the increased traffic could cause so-called “bottlenecks” to occur.

We’ll update this as more details come out.

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In the Year 2020…

richterUs longtime Conan O’Brien fans know that one of the signature skits of his late night show was “In the Year 2000,” which made predictions — however ridiculous — of what life would be like in the future. Well, Pew Internet and American Life project did something similar, but they took a serious look at life in the year 2020.

In order to come up with their predictions, Pew surveyed Internet leaders, activists, and analysts to see what they thought the net would be like a little over a decade from now. One of the most notable findings is that a general consensus believe that the mobile phone will become the primary access point to the Internet.

Voice recognition and touch screen interfaces will also become more prevalent in use of the Internet, and efforts to improve the Internet would continue. Rather than a full “reboot” of the Internet, where it is rebuilt from scratch, future enhancements would build on the current architecture.

More connectivity mean the lines between work and play as well as the real and virtual world would further disappear. This is bad news for Internet critics who say the ‘Net is destroying inter-personal communication, because it appears as if that will only get worse.

Sick of the ongoing piracy battles? Better get some earplugs. Pew says respondents expect the copyright fight to continue as pirators continue to attempt to circumvent the restrictions placed on digital content.

What are my predictions for the Internet in the year 2020? I don’t know, but I’m much more progressive than what Pew has listed here. I fully expect the Internet to be much more immersive. Everything we own will be connected, from our clothing that will know when we are sick and will call for help on its own, to our cars that will use the Internet to avoid traffic, to our lives themselves which could nearly be lived 100 percent digitally if we so desire. Matrix anyone?

All the things I have listed above aren’t far fetched. In fact, every single one of them are in development to some extent. While we won’t be plugging in like Neo, It will be pretty god darn close. It’s unbelievable how fast technology is moving these days.

I’m interested what you think will happen. What do you see in the Year 2020?

(Pew’s full study can be found here.)


Should the U.S. Roll Out Free Nationwide Wi-Fi? It Depends on Which Administration You Ask.

The lame duck Bush administration is flapping its wings in opposition to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) free, national wireless Internet plan. Meanwhile, U.S. President- elect Obama is assembling a team to execute a plan to broaden the availability of high speed Internet access in the United States.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the White House stands in opposition to the FCC’s proposal to auction off the U.S. airwaves (formerly used for terrestrial television) for a nationwide wireless broadband service. Under the plan, the winner of the auction would be required to roll out a nationwide service on a dedicated portion of those airwaves within a specified number of years. Outgoing FCC chairman Kevin Martin, appointed by President Bush, is an advocate of the plan.

But the Journal says that the administration is at odds with its FCC appointee: It believes that the winner of the spectrum auction should not be beholden to a price or product mandate. Given the failure of other municipal Wi-Fi projects, I would hope that the FCC has does its homework and has come up with a model that works. But I hope the plan doesn’t die because it falls short of perfection.

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