Reflection: the internet

May 1, 2012

 

Join me today as I travel and explore how the internet has affected everyone and their cat and dog…well, plus me. Not showing my age but the first time I got on the internet was on my high school computer lab in 1997. It was dial-up and you could hear the fax ringing tone (more like noise) ring as the modem tried to establish a connection. It took 15 minutes to open the Yahoo’s home page. Despite all that, this was my way to see what was going on outside of my little box in Blantyre, Malawi.

The closest image of the computers in school lab

 

More than two decades later, dial-up is almost obsolete. Satellite and cable dominate how the internet is delivered. The world is getting connected quicker and the way we seek entertainment online is changing. Larry Greenemeier wrote the Future of the internet: Video via Lots of Mobile Gadgets:

Internet video will comprise more than half of all Internet traffic, wireless devices will become the predominant way to surf the Web, and there will be more networked devices than people on this planet within the next few years.

My personal amazement with the internet is how it has become compatible with a lot of devices.  These are a few on my wall of internet wonder:

  • Xbox and PlayStation are the two biggest video game consults. They allow video game players across the world to play, compete, talk and strategize in games in real time.
  • Skype is an internet telephone application that converts the computer into telephone. The service allows you to see the person you are talking to thus, changing how and what a telephone should be able to do.
  •  My cellphone is a pocket computer. I can check my email, surf the web, watch TV shows and lots more besides making a phone call.

The future

When thinking about the future of the internet, I start thinking about how the internet would look for my two year daughter. It amazes me to think that the internet will be mobile and easy to access. My daughter has already mastered how to use an iPhone. I constantly wonder what gadget she will be more efficient at using that me.

As we go mobile, the image below is a good illustration how things have changed in the last twenty years:

 

Cassette tapes and Pencil

Cassette Tape and Pencil

 

Technology has rapidly change and trying to predict what the next big thing is interesting when you consider how fast things are changing and we are adapting to that change.

When Sarah Kessler asked six web Pioneers on What the Internet of the Future Will Look I related to the opinion of Barry Glick, Founder of MapQuest:

So I think the Internet is going to be the invisible present power supply, and the boundary between some things that have boundaries today, like telephones, will go away. Television will go away. It will be the Internet, and there will be different display devices and different user interface or interaction devices, but that’s kind of how I see it.

Published in 2002, Marchel Bulinga wrote the article titled the Internet of the future: to control or be controlled, in which he highlighted four trends that are:

    1. Intelligent appliances are connecting us to our environments – these intelligent appliances will have built-in chips that transmit their knowledge and recognize their environment and their owner. To a certain extent, they will also be able to make decisions.
    2. Knowledge is becoming as essential-and ubiquitous as oxygen. – The “knowledge as oxygen” trend is mainly concerned with people and the channels and media by which they acquire knowledge and services (e.g., buying groceries or avoiding the bridge based on what the refrigerator and bridge tells you). If knowledge behaves like oxygen, you have access to knowledge at any time, in any place, and from any appliance, and you have the services that are based on knowledge
    3. The body (biometrics) is increasingly the key to both access and security. – Our bodies will be the keys that give us access to all this knowledge and services. With your finger or your eye, plus a biometric smart card, you will have access to appliances, buildings, and Web sites, anywhere and anytime.
    4. Knowledge is becoming the new money – Our ability to control our knowledge will give it the properties of money. Controlled knowledge has conditions and options attached to it so it can’t simply be copied.

This was of thinking means that technology will be able to balance out the distribution of wealth if knowledge becomes the new world currency. Growing up in a poor country, it is interesting to see how something’s will never change in about being man. As much as we would like to change and expand, things seem to stay the same. Knowledge is power. That is a saying I heard growing up. It will be a saying I will teach my children. The internet assist in providing and sharing this knowledge. As a consumer of knowledge the internet has been the most empowering tool.

As we looking forward, I hope we never forget were we have come from. The internet has more installed for us as we move to a more mobile and interactive future.

 

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