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3. History of Civilization (3.30-3.30.8)
Written by Messiah   
Thursday, 06 July 2006

3.30    The Internet Revolution

The Internet has its roots in the ARPANET created by US Department of Defense in the 1950s. The idea behind ARPANET was to create a communication technology decentralized to such a grade that it could survive and still be operative in the case of war, were enemy attacked communication itself. This technology, named “packet switching” evolved into today’s Internet. On top of the Internet, some guys at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) developed a technique to link documents with each others in late 1980s. This technique which purpose was to link references into the actual document became the World Wide Web, the “Web” in 1993. Now information could be linked and presented in a common way using a common communication technology. After 1995 Internet grew to enormous proportions and today Internet still grows, but today Internet already has secured its holdings and now new techniques are created and presented each day.

3.30.1    Open Source Revolution

The open source movement is really interesting. Its base consists in communities of developers who create software which then are completely free to download and use. However, the concepts are more like free speech than free beer. I think this movement will be the next revolution within IT. Two interesting threads of the software market of today are:

  1. The big commercial software companies acquire each others and obsolete products to be cost efficient in a pace never seen before. This has become a giant problem for customers now who face a situation were they in a few month notices may have to change internal routines and procedures. This has increased the interest of the Open Source market more than ever more.
  2. Some software companies turn their code into Open Source and concentrate on services to compete with the giants. But these companies face another rather new threat. Among many others, the “Mambo CMS” software solution is a good example, were after the company Miro converted Mambo into Open source, the techies at Miro forked the software and create a new solution named “Joomla CMS”, which thereby lost the Miro control and today grow a lot faster than before.

I predict an inevitable future, a lot closer than we are able to expect, were the above two threads merge into a situation were commercial software, as known today, will seize to exist and be conquered by Open Source projects. Redhat certainly is one of those companies who are on the edge of understanding this.

3.30.2    SETI@Home

SETI@Home, developed at UC Berkeley 1995, is a home client application which helps SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) researchers to decipher radio signals. Decipher radio gathered from space needs unlimited computer power. SETI@Home was the first successful decentralized application that used the Internet to operate. Over 5 million computers are or have been connected to this enormous project. This is good evidence that the masses of the earth can work go beyond boundaries when working together.

3.30.3    Mobile phones with cameras

Having the media revolution in mind, you can imagine when most citizens of the earth carries a mobile with a camera, which in seconds can snap a shot and post it to a central place reachable all over the world. This is a new way of global surveillance and news coverage and also a pierce right into integrity itself. The evolvement of this will be most interesting to follow.

3.30.4    Search engines and the successors

Search engines like Yahoo and AltaVista became large when the masses found out the possibilities with the Web. Searches could result in billions of matching pages. Today I see “Wiki” -solutions like the as successors to the search engines and I really encourage you to become a “wikipedian”. Much of the background to this dossier is found using wikisolutions. Another path from the search engines has developed into features like “Google Earth”, which really put the mind in deep thoughts. Quite impressive I must say. Were would this end..?

3.30.5    Mass complexity

Today a web site may consist in a merger of information from many different sources. So called “RSS feeds” and others alike backend standards create complex matrix of news and articles. Web advertising also became complex organism as Google released the “Adsense” mass advertising service. And this is the just some of the stuff on the Net. What more is there and what more is to come? Our present time surely is going thru an interesting period. I sometimes wonder what historians of the future will call it.

3.30.6    Freedom of speech

From a freedom of speech point of view, Internet is a problematic channel to use. In the same time as it seems to be the perfect choice, as Internet today reaches everywhere, it is a giant mistake to think information flow uncontrolled thru it. The possibilities of control, censorship and order are almost unlimited. The late 2005 discussions in media concerning the Chinese Google search engine that only show information that is authorized by the Chinese government is a good example.

  • "I worry about my child and the Internet all the time, even though she's too young to have logged on yet. Here's what I worry about. I worry that 10 or 15 years from now, she will come to me and say 'Daddy, where were you when they took freedom of the press away from the Internet?'", Mike Godwin, Electronic Frontier Foundation.

I foresee that the subject of Speech freedom will grow to become one of core fundaments of Internet’s - “be or not to be” – in the near future. Projects like and among others may turn out to be the needed factor to make Internet a trustful channel even for the freedom of Speech. I think we soon will see Internet sites with a “Freedom of Speech” certification logo attached, which tell us that we are able to surf truly uncensored end-to-end using a “Freedom of speech” plug-in installed.

3.30.7    Customer service revolution

I predict a dramatic change regarding customer service delivered from software companies (maybe in other market segments also). Standardization and Open Source Solution is known to increase the “outside” pressure onto the software business, but I also predict a new “inside” threat that the software companies will need to handle. All of us who have been responsible for software, especially within bigger companies, have been forced to experience good and bad support centers of the software companies. My own experiences concern the enterprise management area, which is a rather high cost area in terms of software. I predict that these services and service centers will have played out their key role within 10-15 years. This because, the customers today are on the edge of understanding that software’s are much better than what they expect of them today and that some software companies do not want their software’s to be “too stable” as it leads to less maintenance income.

I predict that customer service will changed to become a service were the software companies will be calling, visiting or even have representatives at the customer sites to ensure that the software’s behave as expected and is used effectively. If there is a problem, the service will include fixing it and service metrics such as MTBF (Mean time between failures) and MTTR (Mean time to recover) will decide which software’s that will survive on the market.

3.30.8    Linux, linux, linux

I have said it many times during the last 5-10 years. Linux will be the operating system of the future. I think the rather new Ubuntu distribution will be the first distribution that has the power to reach a larger audience and if so I will mark it as the first step towards the inevitable. The Ubuntu team is active in many areas and has recently done some great work on a thin client (LTSP) model which I would mark as events that could make it easier to initiate a mass deployment of Linux on clients. Which Linux flavor that eventually will be the successful one, I think, has to do with how it is aligned to the fundamental questions of mankind.



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