September 15, 2009

Happy Birthday Internet

On September 2, 2009, the Internet celebrated its fortieth birthday.

ComputerWorld (14 Sept. 2009) reports that 40 years ago “computer scientists created the first network connection, a link between two computers at the University of California, Los Angeles.” This was the culmination of research funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the 1960s.

This information technology milestone was followed by another, less than two months later, on October 29 1969, when Leonard Kleinrock "sent a message from UCLA to a node at the Sanford Research Institute in Palo Alto, California."

While the Internet conceptually become a reality four decades ago, it didn’t really go mainstream until almost the 1990’s—with the founding of the World Wide Web project in 1989, AOL for DOS in 1991, and the Mosaic browser in 1993.

Now, I can barely remember what life was like before the Internet. Like the black and white pictures of yester-year: life was simple and composed, but also sort of lifeless, more boring indeed, and less colorful for sure. In other words, I wouldn’t want to go back.

Also, before the Internet, the world was a lot smaller. Even with connections to others far away—by phone and by plane—people’s day-to-day connections were more limited to those in close proximity—on their block, down on Main Street, or in and around town. It took an extra effort to communicate, share, deal, and interchange with people beyond the immediate area.

At present with the Internet, every email, chat, information share, e-commerce transaction, social media exchange, and application are a blast across the reaches of cyberspace. And like the vastness of the outer space beyond planet Earth, cyber space represents seemingly endless connectivity to others over the Internet.

What will the Next Generation Internet (NGI) bring us?

ComputerWorld suggests the following—many of which are already with us today:

  • Improved mobility—like “showing you things about where you are” (for example, where’s the nearest restaurant, restroom, or service station or even where are your friends and family members).
  • Greater information access—“point your mobile phone at a billboard, and you’ll see more information” about a particular advertisement.
  • Better e-commerce—“use the Internet to immediately pay for goods.”
  • Enhanced visualization—Internet will “take on a much more three-dimensional look.”

I believe the future Internet is going to be like Second Life on steroids with a virtual environment that is completely immersive—interactive with all five senses and like speaking with Hal the computer, answering your every question and responding to your every need.

It’s going to be great and I’m looking forward to saying “Happy Birthday Internet” for many more decades, assuming we don’t all blow ourselves out of the sky first.


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