Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Somethin Somethin dub dub dub 2010

As I write, Vint Cerf is mumbling at the podium. Ooops, there he goes, now he's unstuck. Cerf is speaking to the underlying connectivity of the network infrastructure.

Mobile has 4.2 billion users, 1.3 billion PCs. Follow that traffic trend... Asian countries have over 750 million with only 20% or so exposure... the growth opportunity. The shift to mobile returns us to the time when the network was not constantly connected. This is happening at the same time that the expectations for the interfaces are increasing -- photo, audio, geo-location -- smart application behaviors will require the software infrastructure to perform much more coordination and negotiation... REST appears to be a much smarter integration methodology than a sloppy stateful architecture.

Near term changes he suggests: IPv6, internationalized domain names, security for the DNS system, and digitally signing for the address registration; the openness and laxness of router security has become a major area of risk. The addition of consumer appliances as internet connected devices, and the inclusion of local area sensor nets.

Onto the Deeply Linked, Semantic Web: to a markup geek, it is nothing new at all.  Web publications. Persistent public identifiers. Perhaps it is telling that a past that was heretofore shunned by the Googles of the world, is now considered to be its Future?

Cerf went on to speak about security,   but much of what he covered really dealt with the promiscuity of sloppy practices on the net.  Lax behaviors in social networking, unsafe configurations, lack of diligence by governments and businesses, and invasive devices all contribute.  "If anyone is looking for a good thesis, the problem of determining if a configuration is bad is a hard problem." The site "" set up w/ intent to clean up the internet of bot nets.

New technologies he covered include Flow Routers, Map/Reduce (functional programming over cloud computing resources), cloud collaboration; the vision of an invasive introduction of sensory devices presented was as much a replay of the Star Trek - The Next Generation "Borg" episodes as I've ever heard.

He notes that Moore's Law no longer in effect, due to effects of heat. Our bloated software can no longer be made faster by faster hardware. (But don't forget some of the lowest level of software is written to make up for mistakes in the hardware.)

Cerf closed with several important, but again historic problems. The IP problem -- the Web being system enacted as a massive number of copies of data. The possibility that our data is encumbered by the computing systems for which it was originally created, and the concern for long-term availability of the data and the software. Similarly, the creation of artifacts for which no reasonable access can be made without the massive resources of the cloud itself. How to preserve and replicate the environments as they evolve?

At the end of the talk, the last question asked was by a woman about Cerf's twice referring to "bad configurations". His answer struck a raw nerve deep within my soul. We need a system -- an algebra or calculus -- for detecting bad configurations. I wrote just that sort of application several years ago. Might be a big opportunity for me.

I almost didn't register for the conference. My cynicism thus blunted, I look forward to the rest of this event with more optimism.  

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