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Tracking the Internet

Cerf points out that the internet is now and has always had an international character to it. Over the last ten years, the number of internet users and internet hosts has increased from 50 million in July 1997 to 1244 million users around the world in September 2007, and from 22. 5 million hosts in June 1997 to 489 million hosts in July 2007. The rapid influx of mobile phones and gadgets signifies the possibility that many people had been introduced and will be introduced to the internet through mobile gadgets instead of laptops.

As more people from different parts of the world including Asia and other continents become introduced to the internet, the content of the internet, interests of people, style, and culture will strongly become influenced by internet moguls and scientists in that specific region (Cerf, Vint). Truly, according to Cerf, if one looks at the internet now, what the person can see is a highly-connected, bigger, and more colorful version of the internet a few decades ago. 2. Technology Shapers: what has made the internet what it is now are the decisions made by Cerf and his colleagues

Cerf and his colleagues did not know that different switching and transmission technologies will be immediately created after the internet. What made the internet successful is their decision not to make the internet layer dependent on the type of communication or technological device. They wanted the internet to be future-proof, and so they designed its purpose to be as simple as transmitting packets from one point to another, using any capable communication device (Cerf, Vint). This gives way to the end/end principle: Packets are indifferent as to what and how they are carrying and how they are carrying.

They are ignorant of everything except that they are carrying bags of bits, leaving the interpretation to the computers transmitting or receiving the data. As a result, people can freely introduce applications and changes to the internet without having the need to ask permission from an ISP and without the risk of changing underlying networks (Cerf, Vint). By being made this way, the internet has become an important engine of innovation and can be only be maintained as such if ISP’s keep their hands off consumer applications, and focus on transmitting packets from one point to another (Cerf, Vint).

3. The internet is still not perfect. There still exist problems which have to be addressed despite the fact that the internet has been around for some time. The fact that the internet provides some people with access to other browsers means easy penetration of such browsers, making security a major negative side-effect of the internet. This is aside from abuses of domain names, denial of service attacks, among others (Cerf, Vint). Multihoming,multipath routing are attempts which until now are still unsuccessful.

Broadcast utilization would have been useful for the delivery of packets and information to a large number of recipients but this is not used as efficiently now because broadcast channels must still be turned to point to point lengths (Cerf, Vint). Right now, the paramount problem that needs to be addressed is the fact that IPv4 is expected to run out by 2011, and from then, IPv6 will be the only available IP for further expansion and for the supplication of supply address space. The problem with using IPv6 is that there is not a lot of experience in using it so problems that might arise are still to be determined.

In addition, it does not erase the possibility that two IP’s will be run at the same time, raising the probability of complications. These are aside from the fact that the internet does not have a fully connected IPv6 (Cerf, Vint). 4. Socio-economic effects—democratization of information and birth of new business models Unlike in the past when sources of information are limited to a number of people, the internet has made possible people who used to be the information consumers to be information producers.

Barriers to contribution are now essentially reduced to zero as everyone becomes suddenly free to contribute with the rise of blogging, wikipedia and Youtube (Cerf, Vint). Interaction and decision-making have been reinvented to show creativity, with social networking sites, and with gameplaying that allows real-time decision making in experiments that are not feasible in the real world but are now easily simulated in a virtual counterpart of the environment (Cerf, Vint). Cerf also points out how the internet drives media interaction: 1) Economics of digital storage, processing and interaction; 2) Video parametric Space tradoffs.

The internet has created a new business model as the virtual environment has created new possibilities and economics that is different offline (e. g. costs in storage of information and moving bits have dropped significantly). With the future being directed towards internet and technology, Cerf points out the necessity for older business models and economics to adapt to these changes. Best media interaction can be experienced with high transmission rate coupled with high storage. With both present, real-time streaming and pre-recorded streaming are both possible. The term “video-on-demand” suddenly acquires a new meaning.

It no longer means streaming of videos, but the ability to deliver videos faster than real-time streaming. What is the effect of this development to the television industry as a business model and medium? Cert says that IPTV becomes the future of the television industry. Because everything can be “packetized” or converted to digital content, contents may not be limited to audio and video. Also, the internet may transform the idea of advertising as what used to be advertisements that were forced to the television viewers can now be controlled by the consumers using the internet as the medium (Cerf, Vint).

Mobile gadgets now become people’s access to information. For example, telephones are not merely telephones anymore because information may now be easily accessed anytime using the internet and geographically indexed information which provides information that is relevant to a specific need in real time. This is just one of the other countless internet-enabled devices which may include refrigerators, surfboards and even cork screws (Cerf, Vint). 5. The future The introduction of Internationalized (non-Latin) top-level domains poses a challenge to softwares to be able to recognize that such non-Latin domains are actually domain names.

In addition, the digital signing of domain name entries allows better security, requiring digital answers to ensure valid information (Cerf, Vint). Some challenges that are posed by the Digital Age include questions on the treatment of intellectual property; and the further challenges posed by the complexity of objects rendered via the computer. Because digitized information can be easily copied and distributed, in contrast to its physical versions, the introduction of the internet forces people and policy makers to rethink the definition of “copyright”, as well as to think of alternative ways of compensating authors.

Meanwhile, because some information are so complex, meaning, it cannot be interpreted without a software, makes the theory of “bit rot” possible. With the dependence of information on softwares, the loss of access to such softwares (which can happen probably a hundred years from now or maybe less) may render some bits meaningless as there will be nothing to interpret such bits. This gives rise to the need of preserving the softwares as well as the operating systems that run them for as long as the information to be interpreted is existent (Cerf, Vint).

Also, the internet makes possible the use of standardized communication protocols to support the exploration of the solar system. At present, most communication protocols that are used are tailored to the sensor platforms to allow efficient use of available communication capacities. The problem with this possibility is the delay and disruption caused by the distance and rotation of the planets. To answer this problem, the DTN protocol, which is not part of the TCP/IP protocol is invented. The intention is to allow previous missions to become part of the support structure of new missions (Cerf, Vint).

There is no doubt that the internet is the core of the future of the digital age. The effects of its incorporation into every aspect of human life (terrestrial, extra-terrestrial or even virtual) at present are both undeniable and inevitable regardless of the existence or non-existence of problems. Needless to say, what must be done to keep up with the times is, instead of denying, welcome and adapt to the changes brought by the internet.

Work Cited

Cerf, Vint. Keynote Address. Tracking the Internet in the 21st Century. Zurich, Switzerland, 22 November 2007.

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