Question: What will the Internet/Web look like, what will its impact
on Society be?
- I always believed the Internet was what you made of it. The most
disappointing thing I've heard in the past year was at a meeting, in Washington, regarding
children and adult content on the Internet. The Administration asked the "Internet
community" what they were going to do about the problem. AOL and Disney said, we
"The Internet" will do X. I believe "We the Internet" should be the
users, with the tools at their disposal to do as they please.
- In the past, there was no over-riding social controls or
paternalistic governors to make sure that what the creators did the users liked because
they were nearly one in the same. That has changed. And while the next generation of the
Internet will be characterized by new technology, the big changes will follow from the
development of institutions resulting from the new users and how and why they use the Net.
- I hope the new technology will allow people to be self-reliant and
self-empowered, to create and select their own communities of interests, to choose their
own rules. However, mechanisms of representative decision making will need to address
issues like the Domain Name System (DNS).
- The character of these processes is being developed today. Last week
in Cambridge, ICANN met at the Berkman Center at Harvard Law to -- in part -- answer the
question of how to replace the interim officers of ICANN. A part of this larger question,
is who is going to represent the interests of those than can't run their own name server
root or who can't code their way out of the things they don't like?
- While I hope the answers will be addressed based on merit, equity,
fairness, and transparency, I also hope we do not lose our concepts of participation,
community, and self-reliance. That the Internet is indeed what we make it
-- not governments vying for prestige, not AOL, Disney nor some board of directors.
"What will the Internet/Web look like, what will its impact on Society be within a
(5-10) year time frame?
- Technology - Doing More
- Technology - Doing it Better
- Institutional - Past
- Institutional - Today
- Social Protocols
Technology - Doing More
- You will do more online
- Home banking, booking flights, and registering for classes
- Or buying books, CDs, and gadgets
- If you are banking on-line today, you will be doing it over TCP/IP soon.
Technology - Doing it Better
- Desktop and applications will be -- in part -- a combination of XML and stylesheets.
- Network transport mechanisms will be HTTP 1.1 or HTTP-NG.
It'll be Web-DAV if you are running a Microsoft product.
- Network protocol will IPv6 that includes support for mobile devices, privacy,
authenticity, and quality-of-service.
Institutional - Past
- Internet governance was "self-serve." The Internet is what we made it to be.
- If you didn't like something, code up your proposal/solution. (The
- Policy was achieved through rough consensus, running code, and
- Consensus was mediated by "Internet Gods" that derived authority from
technical contributions that became institutions.
- Postel (IANA), Berners-Lee (Web/W3C), Cerf (ISOC), IAB/IESG members (IETF), etc.
- There was no over-riding social controls to make sure that what the creators did, the
users liked, because they were one in the same.
Institutional - Today
- Today, most user are not "citizen-engineers." They are the
"citizen-users" -- or even the "clueless."
- Professor Lessig, at Harvard, argues we need government involvement:
The Net is governed already -- by the people who set the protocols of the space
.... The most famous of these governors are bodies such as the IETF. One would have
thought that the values of the space were values that we should have some say about -- we,
people who populate the net, we whose lives are affected or taken over by the net, we who
depend more upon the net than we do local government.
- People are worrying about representative structures, competing interests, and the
allocation of seats on "the Board."
- Will we loose this concept of community derived from individual participation? Or will
governments and businesses act as a poor proxy for users' interests?
- New technologies such as metadata (assertions), digital signatures (trust), and
negotiation can be leveraged to empower the user.
- Technical protocols serve to facilitate machine to machine communications.
- Social protocols mediate interactions between humans (or their computer agents) using
- They enable the creation of rich content, verifiable assertions, decisions, and
agreements -- to develop and manage trust relationships
- They allow users to create and select their own communities of interest, to choose their
- We will need methods of representative decision making.
- I hope those mechanisms will abide by principles of fairness, equity, meritocracy, and
- I hope they do not become a subsitute for users' representing themselves by directly
participating in the community of the Net.
- So to answer the question of
- What will the Internet/Web look like?
It will be characterized by
standardized, transparent, and open data formats, protocols, and software development
- How will the new Internet affect Society?
I hope it reintroduces the
idea of community based on individual participation, self reliance, and empowerment.