[AfrICANN-discuss] Tell me the future

Anne-Rachel Inné annerachel at gmail.com
Tue Dec 4 20:04:06 SAST 2007

Very Interesting -- the editor will forgive me for rearranging the order of
his stories :-). Way to go Adiel, Steve!!!

Tell me the future

We asked the godfather of the net to tell us where the technology will take
us. He emailed his address book

   - The Guardian <http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian>
   - Monday December 3 2007

When we asked Vint Cerf, chief evangelist at Google, to guest edit
MediaGuardian, we expected him to bring us some luminaries of the web who we
don't often get to hear from. His choices transform an often-asked question
("what's the future?"), into an insight into the thinking of innovators and
pioneers. It's no coincidence that three of them are founders of some of the
biggest web names.

Their specialist fields (from search, to advertising, video streaming to
social networking) represent what Cerf believes to be the most exciting
areas of development on the web and in the world; notably Steven Huter and
Adiel Akplogan, who have pioneered the internet infrastructure in Africa.

Finally, each one has had, and will continue to have, a profound impact on
the future of media.

*Developing world*
*Steven Huter and Adiel Akplogan*
*Research associate, University of Oregon Network Startup Resource Center;
CEO, Regional Registry for Internet Number Resources for Africa*
The first full internet connection to the African continent was established
in Tunisia in October 1991. Over the next 15 years, the transition from
store-and-forward email networks to full internet connectivity in capital
cities all over Africa progressed steadily, with Eritrea being the last to
join the global internet in November 2000.

While most of the continent's internet connections are via satellite today,
the transition to fibre over the next five years will take off as one or
more of the undersea cables currently competing to service eastern and
southern Africa become operational. However, penetration to rural
communities will continue to be limited due to the lack of infrastructure,
and the cost of a personal computer is typically more than what the average
person in a village can afford.

Consumer broadband services via DSL are becoming available in an increasing
number of countries; however, service costs depend greatly on the
pervasiveness and reliability of local infrastructure. Wireless solutions
will continue to evolve as the dominant service for "last kilometre" access
due to the lack of local infrastructure. Given that national scale fibre
build-outs are not a major focus of the five-year budget plans for most
governments, most service providers will continue to deploy a combination of
wireless and leased line infrastructure from telecommunications companies
for providing internet access. Overall progress will occur, but
realistically, the limited or unavailable national infrastructure (power and
fibre) will make it difficult to attain economies of scale, which will limit
pan-African internet development between now and 2012.

The explosion in mobile telephony that has turned Africa into the
fastest-growing market in the world, at more than twice the international
average growth in subscriber numbers, will continue to drive locally-fuelled
innovations. A number of SMS and voice-enabled applications are already in
use in numerous African markets, providing financial, agricultural, health,
and other information services. Network services via mobile devices will
accelerate as mobile operators upgrade infrastructure, and cheaper and more
sophisticated handsets lower the bar for innovation.

The rise of a youthful, entrepreneurial and well-educated vanguard of
Africans will lead this overhaul of the continent's communications services.
Countries that are embracing information technology today and harnessing the
power of wireless networks, mobile telephony and low-cost technology for the
end-user, along with establishing regulatory environments to foster
entrepreneurship, will evolve rapidly over the next five years. Countries
that establish and promote internet exchange points will help to cultivate
the localisation of African internet traffic, and stimulate the creation and
distribution of more local content.

To take full advantage of the power of the internet, African leaders must
give rise to regulatory and political environments that remove cumbersome
barriers, encourage competition by opening up markets to engage more access
providers, and capitalise on these positive forces that ultimately will be
the dynamic impetus to propel Africa forward.

*Social networking*
*Chris De Wolfe*
*CEO, co-founder MySpace*
In only a few years, social networks have become a staple in the internet
landscape as the social networking phenomenon allowed people to "put their
lives online". A person's profile became a representation of who they really
were in the offline world, and allowed them to transfer their offline world

More than ever, social networks are blurring online and offline worlds,
evolving into social destinations that are driving the direction of the
larger web and affecting industries like advertising, music and politics.

Predicting the future of social networks exclusively misses the larger point
- these evolving online social destinations are laying the groundwork for
the new social web which we believe is becoming infinitely more personal,
more portable, and more collaborative.

First, as we expand these social destinations to all corners of the world,
we must always think in terms of the individual. With millions of people
using social websites, there's an increasing demand to make everyone's web
experience personal. In the same way a home or office is your physical
address, we expect your personal, online social profile to become your
internet address. When I give out www.myspace.com/chrisdewolfe to friends
and colleagues, everyone knows where to find me online.

We expect aspects of all socially-based sites to become increasingly
portable. In terms of mobile, we expect to have relationships with every
carrier and device-maker in the world and we expect that half of our future
traffic will come from non-PC users.

Social activity is happening everywhere and we expect applications and
features to be more fluid, based on the online population that want content
where they want it, when they want it, and how they want it. Social activity
should be portable and we expect the industry will continue to move in that

Lastly, online social destinations work best when creativity and development
are collaborative concepts. From personal profiles, to the widget economy,
to the OpenSocial standard - the future of the social web will harness the
savvy of the masses to produce more relevant and meaningful social
experiences, ultimately pushing the larger industry to be more innovative
and progressive.

Lowering the barrier to entry for a new generation of developers will lead
to a more collaborative and dynamic web and directly affect the tools and
feature sets available on socially-based sites. Supporting a more
collaborative web creates a more global and participatory internet
experience for everyone.

The evolution of social networks is kick-starting a broad global shift for
how people, content and culture collide on the web. Right now we're looking
at the tip of the iceberg for what the social web will look like in the
future. Fundamentally, all social destinations must expand while staying
personal, they must engage users while empowering portability, and they must
work with up and coming innovators and major web leaders to both collaborate
and contribute to the larger web community.

*Chad Hurley*
*CEO, co-founder YouTube*
In five years, video broadcasting will be the most ubiquitous and accessible
form of communication. The tools for video recording will continue to become
smaller and more affordable. Personal media devices will be universal and
interconnected. People will have the opportunity to record and share video
with a small group of friends or everyone around the world.

Today, eight hours of new video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. This
will grow exponentially over the next five years. Our goal is to allow every
person on the planet to participate by making the upload process as simple
as placing a phone call. This new video content will be available on any
screen - in your living room or in your pocket - and will bring together all
the diverse media which matters to you, from videos of family and friends to
news, music, sports, cooking and more.

In the next five years, users will be at the centre of their video
experience, you will have more access to more information, and the world
will be a smaller place.

*Maurice Lévy*
*Chairman and CEO, Publicis Groupe*
Five years is an eternity in technology, but from our vantage point a few
things are clear about what the internet and internet advertising will look
like in 2012. One, virtually all media will be digital, and digital will
enable almost all kinds of advertising. Two, online advertising will depend
more than ever on the one element which has always been at the heart of
impactful advertising, both analogue and digital: creativity. The explosion
of media channels means this is a glorious time to think and act creatively.
In art history terms, we are at the dawn of the Renaissance after the Dark

Just as the Renaissance broke down the distinctions between sacred and
profane art forms and between individual and community, so we are seeing a
similar exciting blurring today - and this will only intensify. Linear media
is fast giving way to liquid media, where you can move seamlessly in and out
of different settings. Prescribed time - the 7 o'clock news, the Friday
night out at the cinema, etc - is now becoming multitasking time. People are
no longer willing to put up with interruptions for a commercial break during
their entertainment experience, and so we have to find incredibly creative
solutions to interact with them and engage them in genuine and honest ways.
This implies a brave new world of engagement and involvement between
marketers and consumers and will also mean co-production between marketers
and media owners. Scale will be critical: in five years' time, around 2
billion people will be constant internet users and mobile internet computing
will be ubiquitous. What a great time to be in the business!

*Biz Stone*
*Co-founder, Twitter*
As we increasingly realise the web as a vital social utility and important
marketplace we cannot ignore an even bigger potential. The power of the
internet is not limited to the PC. Twitter has emerged to create a seamless
layer of social connectivity across SMS, IM, and the web. Operating on the
simple concept of status, Twitter asks one question: "What are you doing?"
Friends, family and colleagues stay connected through short responses.

The potential for this simple form of hybrid communication technology is
strong. For example, a person in India may text "Follow Biz" and get online
via Twitter over SMS in a matter of seconds. Biz might be updating from the
US on a PC. Nevertheless, the updates are exchanged instantly.

Our future holds in store the promise of increased connectivity to a
powerful social internet which truly extends to every little spot on our
Planet Earth. We're all affected by and defined by each other's actions.
What are you doing?

*Peter Norvig*
*Director of research, Google *
Yale librarian Rutherford Rogers said "We're drowning in information and
starving for knowledge." The internet is an ocean of information and in the
near future we'll speed through it effortlessly and intuitively, like a
tuna. No, I don't mean you'll have fins.

If you haven't been searching for [tuna tail vortices] recently, you may not
know that a tuna's body creates small vortices in the water that are then
channelled by the tuna's tail to create additional power.

This symbiosis of tuna and watery environment forms a more efficient
propulsion system than anything designed by human engineers.

In the future, a similar symbiosis of searcher and computational environment
will allow us to move faster through the internet than we would have thought
possible. We will not just be typing in keywords and getting back a list of
10 web pages.

Instead, our interaction will be more fluid, our computers will accept our
requests in many forms, and will scan our environment proactively, looking
for ways to provide us with additional power. We will get back web pages,
yes, along with existing books and videos, but also custom tables, charts,
animations, databases, and summarisations created on-the-fly in response to
our specific needs.

Today, nobody says "I need to connect to a megawatt power station" - instead
we assume that electricity will be available on demand in almost every room
of every building we visit. Edison could see that this would be useful, but
could not foresee the range of appliances, from food processors to mp3
players, that this availability would enable. So too will information flow
freely to us in the future, and be transformed by as-yet-unforeseen
information appliances.

*Bruce Cole*
*Chairman, National Endowment for the Humanities (US)*
At the National Endowment for the Humanities, we believe the internet and
other information-age tools, such as digital archiving, will help us
understand the world more deeply, broadly, and creatively. For humanists
just as much for scientists, the ability to mine, analyse, and understand
data, simulate complex environments, and combine information from a wide
variety of sources, is critical to 21st-century discovery and innovation.

The exciting new tools of the digital age also present unique challenges.
With digital technologies, we can comb through information in seconds versus
years, and assimilate knowledge from a much broader array of sources for new
insights. But the wellbeing of the infrastructure itself demands new
time-frames. Information in books can be preserved for centuries before
transfer to new "media" is needed. Information on disks, thumb drives, and
other digital media has a lifespan measured in years or even months rather
than centuries before transfer to the next generation of media is required.

Just as physical infrastructure is a foundation for modern life, digital
infrastructure (data storage, computers, networks, etc.) is foundational
infrastructure for the information age. Attention to the health and support
of this infrastructure is critical to ensuring that born-digital knowledge
is preserved and passed on for the benefit of future generations.
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