Friday, January 18, 2008

A look into Internet History and its Latest Development with Vint Cerf

This is a very beautiful educational video featuring Vint Cerf, father of the Internet and currently an evangelist for Google. He discussed:
  • How the Internet started
  • How powerful Asia can be in influencing the applications online and Internet growth
  • New users of the Internet will likely experience it first through the mobile phone instead of the PC.
  • Quality of the Internet (asymmetrical vs. symmetrical)
  • Unsolved technology needs in the Internet infrastructure today (great opportunity for colleges to look at and explore developing)
  • Technology challenges being addressed.
  • The challenge with the IP address transitioning from IPV4 to IPV6.
  • Prospects for IPTV
  • Mobile phone and Internet technologies real time use
  • Internet-enabled devices (more devices than people)
  • Challenges of the Digital Age
    • rethinking copyright
    • preserve software that can interpret the bits (old documents/operating systems) in order to be accessible for future generations.
  • Other projects (Interplanetary Internet)
  • The Q&A portion was interesting as well as he answered questions like:
    • Can the Internet be shutdown or put down?
    • Biggest fallacies of the Internet
    • Most vulnerable part of the Internet is the browser
    • Is HTTP overloaded?
    • Anonymous, privacy, and authentication
    • Transfer of the top level domain system control from ICANN to U.N.
I believe this is a must watch material by all Internet users - especially students. Thanks Wilson for the link!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Will Wikia become the new search engine leader?

A news item caught my interest today about Jimmy Wales, the founder of the popular site Wikipedia. He will be launching a new open source based search engine, the Wikia Search Project, on January 7, 2008. The search engine results shall show how web site rank were arrived at and shall not collect search habits by its users. It is also intended to be open source that allow users like you and me to use it, build our own search engines, and even contribute.

In the long run, the Wikia Search Project aims to challenge leading players such as Google, Yahoo, and MSN. What makes it interesting is that it will share the code to its users who can take action and compete, as they get tired on the sanctions, penalties, and preferential treatment given by search engines to its advertisers and against indirect competitors.

Wikipedia's popularity on the web, as a source of information, is recognized by search engines today and top results usually pointing to that site. It will be interesting, with the launch of the Wikia Search Project, whether Wikipedia's rank will be treated differently. This is a trend that can be worth monitoring.

Wikipedia has an interesting audience especially from the youth segment. Even among my children, they default to Wikipedia when searching for information. Only when the information is not available is the time they use commercial search engines. With the Wikia Search Project coming into play, the search engine as a social object will further step up in 2008.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Is Internet censorship inevitable?

The growth of the Internet in the last decade was driven by its users and application creators, mostly from the private sector. Along with the benefits came the various threats and abuses such as pornography, terrorism, cybercrime, among others. Most of these crimes are done outside of one's country and most would strategically implement such route to ensure that they won't be captured.

Governments are getting concerned about this and efforts in creating a multi-government and multi-stakeholder body is being pushed to coordinate tracking and capture. It will be interesting to explore the idea Vince Cerf is pushing on international agreements on what is acceptable network behavior or not. I wonder what will be the penalties for those who are non-compliant.

While waiting for these efforts to happen, governments are moving forward. Australia released Internet censorship rules that compels ISPs to provide clean feeds that shall protect children from pornography and violent websites or often referred to as adult content. Of course, wives who don't want their husbands to access Internet pornography should be happy as well.

As children now frequent social networks and use chat tools to connect with their friends, where they also get exposed to adult content indirectly, it will be interesting to see on how can this be properly executed. The last thing you want is for innocent sites to be included in the list.

This is not mandatory though and parents who have control of their household Internet may want to opt out from this feature. Like in our home, computers are located in the living room area where access to undesirable content is less likely to happen. But as Duncan Riley noted, opting out may result or require questions to be answered, that in a sense is also like being monitored.

Whether this will affect Internet speed or increase access cost, is uncertain at this point. Telecommunications Minister Stephen Conroy mentioned that they will work constructively with the sector and engage in trials to get this done properly.

I believe that this move by a perceived progressive and democratic country like Australia will set the stage for more countries to explore the same move, especially if done well.

In the Philippines, there were push for Internet censorship in the past and was even suggested by the biggest Internet cafe chain in the Philippines, Netopia. Even if most Internet cafes in the Philippines have already prohibited access to pornographic materials in their facilities and installed filters to prevent such, some believe that government's participation on the matter can help in stepping up the pressure. Getting the Internet monitored may one way or another help in capturing cyber-criminals especially pedophiles who are good in masking their identities online.

With pervasive Internet use and cybercrime growing online, is Internet censorship inevitable? I guess it will depend on what matters most to us. Is it our privacy? Children's online safety? Freedom of information access? National security?