Scrap the Internet? Heresy or enlightened vision?

Alarmist headlines greeted many people over the weekend, describing a research-based movement that would see the existing Internet turfed. In fact, major U.S. universities, as well as research think tanks in the U.S. (the National Science Foundation’s GENI project) and Europe (FIRE initiative), are already moving down the path of creating a “new” Internet.

The premise is that the Internet has evolved into a different animal than researchers originally conceived when trying to establish a secure communications network for the U.S. military. (I guess the Star Wars boy clip, relentless charitable appeals to help the Nigerian monarchy and the proliferation of kiddie-porn was not what they intended…).

So where do we go from here? It’s likely that multiple layers will emerge, including digital communications and content, commercial and academic, real and virtual. The notion of “the Internet” needs rethinking on a couple of levels, such as what it really describes. 

Do you consider VoIP, IPTV, etc. part of the Internet? Is it parallel or part of it? How, where and when you watch or listen or participate online (with traditional video and music, voting, gambling, etc.) is evolving, but will that be part of “the Internet?”

Web 2.0’s virtual worlds and social networks could conceivably operate outside a more resource-based (i.e. global e-library) network, no? And what about the pipes? Do you build a new network, with no commercial applications or access? Will governments, anxious to learn and capture more and more intelligence in a post-9/11 world, want more (unfettered?) access to the electronic highways and the people and information traveling across them?

Letting government and commerce take the lead on the next/new/parallel Internet seems a little risky. The web has flourished because its arguably been a grassroots movement. This project is the ultimate “stay tuned…”


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