Wednesday, 12 March 2014


THE INTERNET AND SIR TIM BERNERS-LEE - No self-respecting futurist could let today, the 25th anniversary of the birth of the internet, go by without comment and some risky crystal ball gazing. It is written that "to predict the future, first study the past" to which we should add "...and study the present". The Arpanet & Internet came first, dating back to the 1960's as a university network, adopted by  the US defense industry. Sir Tim Berners-Lee conceived the idea of making The Internet open to everyone and so launched the World Wide Web WWW. Now the terms are interchangeable - which is valid because nobody quite knows which system owes what to whom, where or when. 

PAST - As ever, I can crib the entire past of the WWW internet from The Guardian, possibly the best newspaper in the world (The Guardian was born in Manchester, as I was, and as was the Rochdale Cooperative Society - currently under attack by the secretive Legions of Obscene-Greed - $5M is not enough - "I speet on your $5 million dollars"). 

But what The Guardian summary omits is that Sir Tim Berners-Lee worked at the atom-smashing cyclotron at CERN, Switzerland (now the Large Hadron Collider, hunting The Higgs Boson) in the 1980's. I got my first desktop office PC in 1987. Most top scientists worked at CERN for just a few months or years - then returned to whence they came, taking all their hard thought new knowledge with them. Sir Tim lamented the loss, or deep burial, of such valuable ideas and he lobbied for all notes, papers and books by CERN experts to be archived and cross referenced or interlinked  on CERN computers - or what we now call hyperlinked. Amazingly this unique archiving was implemented. I know this story because in 1992 I traveled from Oxford to a (revolutionary) Telework Conference in Berlin; on the bus to Heathrow airport, an unassuming quiet man asked me where I was going and why - and then he made the link between his project and mine. He was Tim Berners-Lee, returning to CERN. 

By grafting the hyperlinked CERN and other vital civilian archives onto the pre-existing American defense industry Internet, which had been developed to globally route military communications, even in a nuclear war that might wipe out 90% of transmitters, via a fishing net type wired and wireless matrix (based in thousands of main-frame mostly IBM computers) of such complexity and alternative routes that the matrix would send and receive messages even if large holes were blown in the matrix (or web); and then by making the system available to the public as the World Wide Web (WWW) - Sir Tim enabled today's public Internet. He charged nothing for this incredible world changing innovation and he intended that access would be free to all, for all time. 

PRESENT - The Internet, still in its infancy, is now under sustained attack from every mad dictator, moral leader, outraged citizen, persistent civil-servant, self-flagellating puritan, spy, pompous politician, creative artist, avaricious business, deluded prophet, and all others who believe that they alone have the absolute right to ration access to information, deny free-speech, tell everyone what to do and monitor all communications of all the 7 billion citizens on the planet. Countless maniacs proclaim "I CAN RULE ICANN" - non-profit ICANN sets the global protocols for the Internet. To counter these sad, bad, mad lunatics and to keep the Internet open - like a road network that anyone can use - Sir Tim Berners-Lee today proposes an Internet Magna-Carta. (Magna Carta is an agreement made in 1215 between King John and his "Subjects", the people of England, to curb the King's divine rights to screw everyone else. It is the foundation of western democracy). 

FUTURE - Sketching out the future of the Internet could be an endless task - a "how long is a piece of string?" question. How far ahead does a Futurist look; locally, regionally, nationally, globally? Which strands of technology do we follow and forecast? Will I be alive to celebrate my accurate predictions? Fortunately, I have already written the definitive book, AD 2516 - After Global Warming. You will not be surprised to see that it looks 500 years ahead; is a wonderfully amusing, unputdownable novel; and is soundly based on credible real science (I read New Scientist, Scientific American and dozens of science primers). You can read the first 30 pages on Amazon E-books, free of charge, and see how the Internet has morphed into the Q-Field - and you can treat yourself by downloading the entire book for 5 or 6 hours of pleasurable and compelling reading - at a risibly low affordable price. Click the cover in the right hand margin of this page - or the Internet hyperlink above. After the great floods, the Internet will survive as a global right of all citizens on our planet and across our solar system (I don't extrapolate, yet, into our galaxy).

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