Monday Mar 31, 2008

The Bled Declaration

We closed the day by adopted the Bled declaration, calling on the Commission and member states co-ordinate their R&D and do other good things, including the support in the construction of a "Future Internet Assembly".

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What changes in technology will do to the Internet tomorrow

The afternoon panel was billed, in contrast to the morning's emphasis on society and economics, as about the technology. The session was opened by Lutz Heuser, of SAP, who had an interesting slide about the nature of innovation and a layered architecture model of the internet, which is pretty common place in these meetings, layering business services over common services over a platform, which itself has computers, switches and interconnects. He did ask where the european business services were? Thus ignoring plazes, and bebo, and if I new the non-UK economies better, I bet I could name some more of these SaaS Web 2.0 startups from Europe.

Christian Grégoire, of Bell Labs, Alcatel-Lucent spoke of the need to re-invest in the network's intelligence and that vertical industries adoption of remote sensor technology will change the applications portfolios, the bandwidth demands and backbone topology. A number of speakers seem to equate the internet of things with RFID, I wonder if the argument that they lack intelligence and programability has been considered and dismissed, or just not engaged with.

Jan Uddenfeldt a senior advisor to the CEO of Ericsson spoke, surprise surprise, about how mobile phones will drive change. I am not sure on two counts. Phones while very portable, have CPUs, RAM, storage, a screen, a keyboard and a network interface. This makes them computers, and if you have a consumer Sony Ericsson, its a pretty poor screen and keyboard. The volume and rate of adoption does make a difference, but the "internet of things" is a step beyond connecting people.

Krishna Nathan Vice President of Storage System Development at IBM. An interesting and thoughtful speech about how the "internet of things" will drive the evolution of an event driven network; sensors will require real time management. He explored the use of sensors to manage the data centre? They made quite a lot of noise about it earlier this month [ IBM Press Release ]. I was quite annoyed about this; I had planned suggest Sun did something about this leveraging Wonderland and Darkstar. (See also MMORPGs, making them massive, at this site.) However, it may not be too late. It interests me that no one is really talking about the nature of the services that the internet will need to provide for these new models. He was explained well the changing nature of traffic patterns that will occur as sensors become pervasive. His slides are also worth a second read.

Jean-Charles Hourcade of Thomson SA, spoke from the perspective of a content company and his speech shows why we need to consider change from different perspectives. He argues that the devices of the future are the pc, gateway and phone. (I don't think so). He argued that HDTV and Cinema Technology will raise the bar again. This is probably true, but to me what's popularising video is youtube, and the reducing of video's length. They've become snacks. A countervailing force in the UK is the BBC's iplayer and BT Vision. Maybe the UK has some more serious legacy inhibitors to change. Both the commercial structure, where content providers own their own network and the business is dominated by de-facto or de-nationalised monopolies, and the age of the local loop. I wonder how easy the rest of Europe will find it to move forward.

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and in the rest of the world

After lunch, we listened to presentations from the US & Japan. The americans seem to be concentrating on systems issues and using virtualisation to deliver resources to individual researchers. When I get the slides we might discover how easy it is to join their network as suppliers which is an indication of how well they've addressed and solved the 'federation' issues. The presenter was Heidi Dempsey and the projects web site is Fumito Kubota from Japan presented on Project Akari, which is being run by the New Generation Network Research Centre of Japan, an interesting view on the growth of communication in Japan. The Japanese project has massive academic input, and is very focused on the network layer and bandwidth.

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The socio/economic impact

The rest of the morning was taken over with a panel presentation, which focused on the socio/economic impact of the changing internet. The first speaker was Andy Wyckoff from the OECD who spoke of a number of economic issues reinforcing the link between creativity and wealth creation. In fact the OECD are running a ministerial conference, see, which has had massive and unexpected support from the OECD's member and candidate members. He also emphasised the need for openness & interoperability. He also argued that smarter interfaces will be needed to truly create an internet of people, and that is required before further evolutions will occur.

Led by Geert Lovink of Institute of Network Cultures, the panel explored the question of paying for creativity given the marginal cost to copy is zero. Will it be possible to implement a form of micro payments?

Another issue raised was the duopoly of the search engines. It was argued that it is necessary to have a diversity of search engines, and that fortunately, the smaller players are staying in the market and continuing to innovate. Search will remain the "killer app" of the internet, but where is the "only people are experts" dimension. Will the next evolution be people finders?. They may become more important than resource finders, and is a dimension of the NESSI problem. How will you find services, in a world of billions, with hundreds of thousands joing each day. (Obviously thats the vision, not today's reality).

Dag Johansen asked if can we build a 'push' search engine, and that its very important to protect one's privacy. He (and others argued) that many internet users are prepared to trade some of their privacy for free services and resources. In terms of his privacy, he deliberately uses multiple search engines to hide from those that wnat to know about everything he does, he also stated that he doesn't think Google is good enough to justify exclusive use. I am moving towards this behaviour and often use exalead which tries to use semantic technology to improve the search quality. Another thought this raised in my mind is that {english} schools are once again pretty poor, they're teaching how to use apps, not the internet, and so while todays children are being taught in class how to use Word to write a letter, they are missing how to protect your privacy and use firewalls and spam filters. Actually it would seem they are teaching how to circumvent poorly configured content filters. (Don't ban Google images for the UK & USA, if you leave Ireland, India and Australia available.)

Diogo Vasconcelos from Cisco came up with the following insight, "People like politics, with politicians it depends", he also raised the issue of sustainability. Some of his visions had a real 'Minority Report' touch. A question was raised suggesting that, sometimes selling you stuff you thought you didn't want is good. But how much more than Amazon recommendations do we need? This did remind me of the minority report scene where the shop recognises Anderton (Tom Cruise) via an eyeball scan. Diaogo repeated the idea that the EU is the most connected place in the world? I wonder if its true. I find connecting in the States when traveling easier, the network and wi-fi seems much more pervasive, although I often have to pay. You can see elsewhere in this blog for my views on Italy and Brussels. My recent travels have confused me and I can't make up my mind whether to buy a wi-fi or 3G connected hand held appliance. I hope that I will be allowed to trial a new vodafone commercial solution, or maybe I'll check out BT Fon, which reminds me, I really need to sort my household content subscriptions. It just never stops.

The morning was finished up with a presentation on internet governance, and the need to address bureaucratic degeneracy and market failure. See also, which is a United Nations body.

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