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TECH TALK: The New Internet: Three views of the New Internet

May 30th, 2001 · No Comments

Tim Berners-Lee, James Hendler and Ora Lassila, writing in Scientific American (May 2001, http://www.sciam.com):

    The essential property of the World Wide Web is its universality. The power of a hypertext link is that “anything can link to anything.” Web technology, therefore, must not discriminate between the scribbled draft and the polished performance, between commercial and academic information, or among cultures, languages, media and so on. Information varies along many axes. One of these is the difference between information produced primarily for human consumption and that produced mainly for machines. At one end of the scale we have everything from the five-second TV commercial to poetry. At the other end we have databases, programs and sensor output. To date, the Web has developed most rapidly as a medium of documents for people rather than for data and information that can be processed automatically. The Semantic Web aims to make up for this.

    The Semantic Web is not a separate Web but an extension of the current one, in which information is given well-defined meaning, better enabling computers and people to work in cooperation. The first steps in weaving the Semantic Web into the structure of the existing Web are already under way. In the near future, these developments will usher in significant new functionality as machines become much better able to process and “understand” the data that they merely display at present.

A view from Forrester (http://www.forrester.com):

    Web browsers have brought Internet services to millions of people. As a result, Internet usage has boomed. However, the Web’s days are numbered as the Internet moves to a second round of expansion beyond the browser. Two new waves of innovation will eclipse the Web: an executable Net that greatly improves the online experience, and an extended Net that connects the real world.

    The first stage in the X Internet is an executable Net. Users will get real-time, interactive experiences over the Net through disposable code — programs you use once and throw away — downloaded to their PCs and handheld devices. These quick downloads will allow users to carry on extended conversations with Net services.

    An extended Internet is also emerging through Internet devices and applications that sense, analyze, and control the real world. With cheap chips and a worldwide Internet backbone, nearly every device that runs on electricity will have an Internet connection, through both wired and wireless networks. The result? The number of Internet devices will boom from today’s 100 million to more than 14 billion in 2010.

John Doerr from Kleiner Perkins (http://www.kpcb.com), quoted in International Business Week:

    The Net [in the future] will be very, very different than the Net we know today. It will be what I like to call an Evernet. It’ll be always on, it’ll be on all kinds of devices, not just on PCs. It’ll be on set-top computers, and it’ll be on tables in kitchens, and God hope, in all the classrooms. And it’ll be wireless everywhere. Lots and lots of Net everywhere, pervasive Net, Evernet, always on. And it will be a very high-bandwidth Net. It won’t be static little pictures and text. Or if it is a picture when you click on it, you’ll get a movie behind it. It’ll be highly personal also. It will know that you are there in the room, and it will know a lot by virtue of your portal or your provider. It’ll present the stuff you’re interested in. It won’t show you ads you’re not interested in.

Forrester calls it the “X Internet”. Tim Berners-Lee calls it the “Semantic Web”. John Doerr calls it the “Evernet”. Everyone’s in search for it, and yet no one can lay claim to it. This is the Internet that is emerging – an Internet which will go beyond the Web of hyperlinks and documents that we know today, an Internet which will be more than just a way of allowing people to access information put up on computers through browsers.

This is the New Internet and it being built around two themes: Pervasive Connectedness and Real-time Infrastructure.

Tags: Tech Talk

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