ITECS: The Next-Generation Internet

The only constant is change.

Someone said that there can’t be a Web 2.0 because there was never a Web 1.0.  In like fashion, do you remember when George W. Bush said “Internets” and everyone laughed?  It turns out, however, that he was right:  there are, indeed, Internets (i.e., plural as in more than one). 1

My personal dissatisfaction with the term Internet

I think that the term “Internet” is a very poor way to describe the service that we use when we go online and what we actually do when we’re in virtual space.  That’s because when we go online, we:  upload, download, chat, read, write, talk, watch movies, listen to songs and learn.  In fact, we perform what can be called the essence of communication.

The next-generation Internet

If the only constant is change then it stands to reason that the Internet, like everything else, is also subject to evolution.  If it is subject to evolution then we needn’t split hairs about what we call it.  It’s no longer a matter of appellation, but of functionality.  It’s not what we call the thing (or, service), but what the thing (or, service) does for us that counts.

There’s much in a name

Having said that, names are, nevertheless, important.  Imagine for a moment that the Internet were called ITECS.  ITECS stands for Interactive Total Expression Communication Sphere.  Interactive because the Internet implies movement and interactivity; Total because of the all-encompassing scope of material available online; Expression because, in toto, everything on the Internet is an expression of some kind; Communication because what we express is non-static and, via interactivity, reaches intended recipients; and Sphere because I think this sounds so much better than Internet or, Information Super Highway which implies a linear trajectory as opposed to something more holistic like ITECS.

ITECS

Today, we have Internet1 (See, footnote 1):  a hodge-podge of information that is slow to access and may or may not be accurate.  (See, Static and Closed versus Interactive and Open Internet Web pages, lubarascheff.com) with a division of functions (See, Get to the Point: Effective Communication in the Digital Age, lubarascheff.com).

But what will next-generation ITECS be like?

Falling into the realm of speculation

Let’s do a free fall into the realm of speculation.  Let’s imagine a bit and make some smart guesses.  Unlike Internet1 (and more like Internet2), ITECS will be fast; much faster than what we’re using today (whether Internet1 or Internet2).  It will be entirely wireless and perhaps somehow connected to our bodies (See, Do As the Toltecs, lubarascheff.com, where I discuss screen incorporation) and resolution will be higher than anything extant.  ITECS will be transparent.  The case can be argued that in a speedy and transparent ITECS, users will be able to almost instantly do the following:  obtain information they seek; express themselves; and share information they deem valuable with a close group of friends or the world.  With speed, ease of access and a more evolved mindset that will necessarily accompany a more evolved ITECS, there will be less of a perceived need to dissimulate and/or deliberately upload incorrect information onto ITECS.  (See, “Internet inaccuracies” in Static and Closed versus Interactive and Open Internet Web pages, lubarascheff.com).  Users themselves will, together, act as a kind of counterbalancing “correction mechanism” if this happens.

In the same way that when we think it, our brains send signals to our fingers and toes that cause them to move, ITECS will enable us to, when we wish, holistically “merge” with its worldwide community of online users.  It will be an open, transparent, fast, ultra-high resolution, self-regulating sphere of total, interactive, information exchange.  ITECS will meet the needs of all users without being detrimental to people or the planet.

Evolution and credibility

Why should we wait for information?  If Internet2 “moves data 100 to 1,000 times faster than the old-fashioned Internet [i.e., Internet1],” 2, ITECS will move data at nearly the speed of thought.  I say nearly because, even though hyperly minimzed, as futurist Dr. Kaku posits (See, The Zero-Sum Game, lubarascheff.com), technical components (i.e., microchips) will still exist.  ITECS will, therefore, be almost instant.  Frustration gone.  Almost instant access to what you need most at the moment you need it.  Doesn’t this sound great?

When will this happen?

ITECS (or, something similar only called by a different name) will arrive sooner than we think.  This is because it will come into existence based on needs defined by our evolving communication requirements.  Our collective, evolving needs will compel innovators to create ITECS.

Image

Orb: Recursive

Author: “Exper” Giovanni Rubaltelli, Abstract Design, (c) 2007 G.R. “Exper”–exper.3drecursion.com

References

1 Russo, Alexander. Slate. Internet2: It’s better, it’s faster. You can’t use it. Posted on Tuesday, June 7, 2005.  Accessed on Saturday, August 10, 2013.  http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/webhead/2005/06/internet2.html. And, Urban Dictionary, Definition of “Internets.”  Accessed on Saturday, August 10, 2013.  http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=internets&r=related.

2 Russo, Alexander. Slate. Internet2: It’s better, it’s faster. You can’t use it. Posted on Tuesday, June 7, 2005.  Accessed on Saturday, August 10, 2013.  http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/webhead/2005/06/internet2.html.

ITECS: THE NEXT-GENERATION INTERNET Copyright © 2013 Luba Rascheff

Static and Closed versus Interactive and Open Internet Web pages

In the beginning, web pages were static with readers merely passively reading them.  Today, many are interactive with more and more possibilities for users to actively interact with the material they read.  To what degree should Internet users be able to interact with (viz., modify) information presented to them?  What are the benefits of increased openness and interactivity?  What are the risks?  Just how democratic should the Internet be?

Steps toward openness and the democratization of the Internet

There are disagreements regarding the definition and even existence of Web 2.0. 1  If we momentarily overlook this fact, Web 2.0 can be thought of as a kind of interactive, dynamic, non-static, next-generation Internet.  Its philosophy “emphasizes the importance of people’s interactions with the Internet.” 2  Although the concept of everyone contributing to the Web sounds and may even be wonderful, it raises some fundamental questions.

Ward Cuningham, the founder of Wikipedia (the word “Wiki,” pronounced “Witi” is a Hawaiian word which means “fast” or “quick” 3) created an encyclopedia in which users can edit a page or create new ones. 4  “A single page in a wiki website is referred to as a “wiki page,” while the entire collection of pages, which are usually well interconnected by hyperlinks, is the ‘wiki.’ ” 5  As appealing as having a plethora of wikis at our fingertips is, it remains a mixed blessing.  Tim O’Reilly (from O’Reilly Media) said, regarding interactive Internet, that because people can accidentally or intentionally provide incorrect information, there is no guarantee regarding the accuracy of the electronic information at our disposal. 6

Web syndication formats such as Really Simple Syndication (RSS) also contribute to the democratization of the Internet by allowing users to “subscribe to a Web page and receive updates whenever the administrator for that page [makes] any changes.” 7  The process of rendering web content equally discoverable to as many users as possible also includes tags and open source software 8 as well as blogs and permalinks (hypertext links) connected to specific blog entries that allow for heightened information exchange (i.e., blog-to-blog, viral marketing). 9  Podcasting (i.e.,  blog + RSS + video blogs or, vlogs) is yet another way to share information. 10

Internet inaccuracies

Although web democratization leads to increased dissemination and sharing of information and opportunities for new services (e.g., Red Hat Software came into existence to support Linus Torvalds’s open source operating system, Linux 11) we must be wary regarding the accuracy of and accountability for information found online.

Although democratization, openness, inclusiveness, and encouraged interactive co-participation in developing web content are appealing because of the vast amounts of information they provide and the ability to easily access said information, we need to seriously think about accuracy, accountability as well as the retention of individual authorship when applicable.

Unfortunately, there are numerous examples of inaccuracies that riddle the Internet.  Even more troubling is when these inaccuracies pertain to misleading medical advice.  Some kind of guiding compass must be relied upon to “follow up [on such] conflicting information with a solid, unambiguous message that communicates those lessons that [in this cited, educational study] the instructor deems most important.” 12

Regarding a study called Safe Infant Sleep recommendations on the Internet: Let’s Google It, researchers found that parents, instead of following American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations because they often contain hard-to-understand, medical jargon, type key phrases into a search engine and follow the advice given by high-ranking websites. 13  When researchers tested common key phrases, they found that in the top one hundred search results (out of 1,300 websites total) “only 43.5% of these … websites contained recommendations that were in line with the AAP recommendations, while 28.1% contained inaccurate information and 28.4% of the websites were not medically relevant.” 14  In this example, parents obtaining and applying incorrect information from data presented online could have devastating consequences.

Maintaining individuality while permitting specified, collective web interactivity

Whether closed or open, passive or active, web pages on the Internet deliver information to users.

It is important to recognize that an open and interactive Internet is desirable for the benefits it could bring.  At present, however, we must expect that the advantages of openness and heightened interactivity and inter-connectivity are offset by lack of accountability coupled with inaccuracies that pose potential pitfalls.

Perhaps it’s best to recognize that there should be a balance between the two models presented in this article:  niches (e.g., Wikipedia) where wikis are the norm and groups of Internet users collectively create material that has the potential of being inaccurate and lack accountability, with control mechanisms in place to correct such inaccuracies; and niches (e.g., bloggers or individual website creators) where accuracy and accountability can easily be verified and attributed.

References

1  Strickland, Jonathan.  “Democratization of the Web.”  Howstuffworks. How Web 2.0 works.  Accessed on Saturday, August 3, 2013.  http://computer.howstuffworks.com/web-202.htm, 3.

2  Ibid., 3.

3  Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  Wiki.  Accessed on Saturday, August 3, 2013.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki

4  Ibid.

5  Ibid.

6  Strickland, Jonathan.  “Democratization of the Web.”  Howstuffworks. How Web 2.0 works. Accessed on Saturday, August 3, 2013.  http://computer.howstuffworks.com/web-202.htm, 3.

7  Ibid., 4.

8  Ibid., 3.

9  op. cit.

10. Ibid.

11  “What does open source mean?”  Howstuffworks. Accessed on Saturday, August 3, 2013.  http://computer.howstuffworks.com/question435.htm

12  Philip Kortum, PhD, Christine Edwards, BS and Rebecca Richards-Kortum, PhD.  “The Impact of Inaccurate Health Information in a Secondary School Learning Environment.”  Journal of Medical Internet Research. Accessed on Saturday, August 3, 2013.  http://www.jmir.org/2008/2/e17/

13  Rehman, Jalees.  “Accuracy of Medical Information on the Internet.”  Fragments of Truth.  Posted on Thursday, January 17 2013.  Accessed on Saturday, August 3, 2013.  http://fragments-of-truth.blogspot.com/2013/01/accuracy-of-medical-information-on.html

14  Ibid.

 

STATIC AND CLOSED VERSUS INTERACTIVE AND OPEN INTERNET WEB PAGES Copyright © 2013 Luba Rascheff