Tag Archives: Facebook

Web vs Internet?

Last Monday, the Queen Elizabeth prize for engineering was awarded to Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Robert Kahn, Vinton Cerf, Louis Pouzin and Marc Andreessen for their contribution in the current revolution in communications that has taken place in recent decades. Every one of them were treated as inventors of the internet while in reality, this is more complicated.

After the awards, the question was raised if people really understand the difference between the internet (a single application) and the infrastructure that makes it possible, the web. In reality, Cerf, Kahn and Pouzin can legitimately get most of the credit for designing the network; Berners-Lee built the web on the foundations laid by them; and Marc Andreessen in turn built on Berners-Lee’s work by creating the first major web browser. So what’s the difference between the web and the net?

There is a general and increasing misconception around the difference between the internet and the web. Currently, there are 2.4 billion internet users in the world, which means about 4.6 billion people are still unconnected. As the Guardian rightfully states, it will not come as a surprise to you that both Facebook and Google are already targeting them. At present, Facebook, for its part, has signed up 44% of the US population, 30% of Europeans and 37% of Latin Americans. But it only has 6.6% of Asians and even fewer (5%) Africans. Most users of the internet in poor countries will be connecting to it via mobile phones. As a result, both Facebook and Google are persuading wireless carriers in poor countries to offer customers free or very cheap online access that is limited to stripped-down versions of the web giant’s sites. Once those new web consumers will get experience in the ‘proprietary worlds’ of Facebook and Google, they will demand more and will be willing to pay for it.

As a result, more and more people will believe that Facebook or Google IS the Internet….

So why does this matter? The network that Cerf and Kahn built was deliberately designed as an open, permissive system. Anyone could use it, and if you had an idea that could be realised in software, then the net would do it for you, with no questions asked. Tim Berners-Lee had such an idea – the web – and the internet enabled it to happen. And Berners-Lee made the web open in the same spirit, so Mark Zuckerberg was able to build Facebook on those open foundations.

However, people like Mark Zuckerberg do not have the intention to allow anyone to use Facebook as the foundation to build their own applications (which Facebook cannot control). In other words, through Facebook’s and Google’s smart market entry strategy more and more people will consider the internet and the web to be similar, and Facebook and Google to be THE internet. Questionable don’t you think?

 

 

 

 

 

Technologies that will help shape Smart Cities.

There are a lot of technologies which we already use today that will probably also be (more) relevant in the future. Today’s technologies will evolve to be more powerful and they will integrate more with each other and with the city.

Smartphones allow us to communicate anytime and anywhere. They contain a lot of sensors like cameras, gyros, accelerometers, GPS, compasses and so on. In the future, the number, accuracy and performance of these sensors will grow and the combination of sensors will give users a powerful sense of their surroundings. With your smartphone, you will be able to interact with the digital and physical world. There are some ideas that personal mobile computers will become fashion statements. You will be able to wear them like a watch, headset or glasses so you’ll be able to interact visual and audible with the city and its surroundings. These will be technologies of the future of smart technologies.

Another change that will occur in already existing technology is the 3G and 4G networks that now provide acceptable but intermittent connections at an ok speed. Deployment of the cell towers in the future will be faster and more organic. There will be so many devices in the cities of the future that even remote neighborhoods will be able to enjoy solid wireless access to the cloud. The idea is that smartphones won’t have signal strength indicators since wireless access to the cloud will be pervasive and ultrafast all the time.

Cloud computing in the future will contain all of our personal information. The applications (like Google Drive now) will be available at anytime and everywhere. You should be able to edit a text document on the train or adjust sales proposals at a clients office.

In the future, eye-tracking and voice recognition technologies will be combined with augmented reality. These futuristic information glasses will transmit objects that you’re viewing and words you’re speaking to your smartphone which will interpret, find and compute your intent and transmit the results back to you. Augmented reality will be used to project images onto the lenses of these glasses.

Social networks will also become more integrated with other digital components of our lives. They will be integrated with our calendars, address books, GPS,… So for example when you go to a meeting you can be presented with recent and relevant posts that the person you’re meeting made on Facebook.

There are a lot more technologies that are already used today that will become more important in the future. They will probably appear in a new and innovative way so they meet the standards of Smart Cities. Beside all of these existing technologies, new technologies are already being made.