As we continue to fly ahead with all of our Internet intensity there is one person who has been around since the beginning of the ‘net who talks in cautionary terms. It may be worth our time to slow down for just a minute and pay attention.
Vint Cerf is widely recognized as one of the founding fathers of the internet. His work with ARPANET and creating the inner workings of the modern Internet infrastructure are beyond most of us. He certainly doesn’t look like the rest of those who ‘claim’ the Internet as their own. He’s simply older than us but he also talks about the Internet in terms of being 30 to 40 years old. I usually get impressed when someone says they have been designing web sites and optimizing etc, etc since 1994 which is a mere 15 years ago. In an age where youth is valued far too much at times we should look to experience to help us in the future.
Cerf is now a VP and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google (I mean where else do Internet legends go?). An article in Read, Write, Web covered his talk at SMX in Santa Clara and it covered some of the concerns, cautions and predictions that he is considering. I think it would make sense for those of us in this space to slow down for a minute, shake off the pride of ‘knowing the Internet’ and listen to someone who can truly say ‘Been there, done that and made the T shirt’.
Some points to consider from Cerf’s talk at SMX.
- Cloud computing – All the rage but there are some significant cautions as well. Disparate protocols and other ‘non-standard’ issues have created an environment that mirrors the earliest times of the Internet. Security, portability, loss of privacy are just a few of the topics touched upon in this talk.
- Video and the future – Cerf discusses how video and IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) are changing and this will obviously affect how internet marketers utilize this fast growing segment. He makes a great point about how downloading video may be the real wave of the future rather than streaming video. He talks of how you don’t listen to iTunes while downloading, you listen to it at your convenience. YouTube’s latest move toward allowing downloads is evidence that Google is taking this seriously.
- Bit rot – I personally hadn’t considered this potential issue but it makes perfect sense. How long will electronic archives be viable if the programs used to create them are obsolete? He talks about how the written word survives because of its universal usability. What happens to the files being created that won’t be usable in the future? Unless we prepare for that there is a threat that all of this great ‘stuff’ we proclaim we do on the Internet may only be a snapshot in time and not something that can help in the future.
Lots to think about. Mr. Cerf deserves the attention because there are few if any like him with the kind of experience and knowledge about this whole Internet thing since its infancy. Take a break. Slow down and learn some history so we all don’t become doomed to repeat it.