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TECH TALK: Internet Tea Leaves: Endgame

September 16th, 2005 · No Comments

The next logical question is: what is the endgame? Where are we heading towards? I can think of the answer as a combination of the Memex and Mirror Worlds. The Memex is a manifestation of Vannevar Bushs idea of 1945. Mirror Worlds are what David Gelernter proposed in his book of the same name in 1991. (Another related theme is the Metaverse idea put forth by Neal Stephenson is his 1992 book Snow Crash.)

The Memex (meaning memory extender) can be thought of as a sort of forget-me-not. Today, we use Google as the window to the world of information. But search is just one way to navigate the web. Consider the analogy with a printed book. A book has 3 ways to browse it: table of contents (think of this as a directory or outline), index (the equivalent of search), or jumping to a page (typing a specific URL or finding it, quite literally, via a bookmark). On the Web, the index/search option has become the primary mechanism.

What the Memex does is make possible the option of navigation via directories. Users can create their own trails through the web of information. Others can follow these trails. For example, if my passion is science fiction, I am likely to have created a set of links and comments on books and ideas which would also be relevant to others interested in that topic. Others can include my directory and build further. This is how the Memex can get constructed through the creation of millions of directories.

Mirror Worlds are, quite literally, a replica of what we see happening around us. With a mix of user-generated content from their mobiles along with webcams and sensors, it will be possible to almost recreate the real world in the Grid. Mirror Worlds are, thus, microcosms of all that we see around us as updated as the real world that they resemble. They are accessible to us through screens on the devices we have our mobiles, computers, and perhaps, networked TVs.

From an enterprise perspective, the equivalent of the Memex-Mirror World combo is the real-time enterprise. It is a theme that has been talked about for a long time. Software along with the access devices and complements like RFIDs will go a long way in making the RTE a reality.

This, then, is what I read in the tea leaves of August. Emerging markets like India and China are where the future of the Internet lies. Googles actions only highlight the need for a Google for Emerging Markets one that has to emerge from these markets themselves. That is the next big opportunity. This New Internet is going to be significantly different from what we have seen in the past decade. The time to get started to building it out is now.


TECH TALK Internet Tea Leaves+T

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