Tag Archives: internet

Planning for the Wireless Future

A recent article in my local paper showcased a new solar powered phone charger and wi-fi hotspot built into a park bench. Apparently these are coming to cities such as Boston and New York, but they are already in a park in my own town. This got me thinking about the ubiquity of wireless connections and the expectations that there should be access almost everywhere. Vehicles are becoming personal internet access points, and I suspect that I could even turn my bicycle into a hot spot. With this expectation of widespread and growing wireless access, how is a network architect supposed to plan for the future? In this post I hope to synthesize best practices of corporate and campus planners to help you plan your own infrastructure.

 Greenfield or Incremental?

Unless you are moving into a brand new building you don’t have the luxury of the greenfield approach, or starting from scratch. The folks at Cisco and other network component providers recommend developing a master plan and then tackling the project in stages. A wireless network consists of routers and switches in the back end and access points at the front end. If you have not been performing periodic upgrades then the entire infrastructure may need to be replaced.

When replacing the system components, look to the future in terms of technology and capacity. There is still a lot of equipment running on the old 802.11b/g standard but 802.11n is a better solution. Even better is 802.11ac but there are not many current devices that can access this standard, although they are coming fast. When developing a plan, look out at least five years to estimate the wireless devices that will be accessing your network. Don’t forget about bring your own devices (BYOD) and Internet of Things (IoT) introducing devices that we may not even have thought of yet.

Appetite for Bandwidth

A December 2015 Educause survey found that 61% of undergraduates in a typical college or university are trying to connect at least two wireless devices to the network at the same time. Some are trying to connect up to four devices at once. University of Oregon enrolled 23,634 students for fall 2016 so using the average of two devices, that is over 47,000 devices potentially hitting the network. That is a lot of access points and switches that need to be working right. Particularly for colleges, but also for businesses, it is important to have the right mix of access, speed, and reliability.

In the article mentioned above, Michael Spande, director of Enterprise Services at Bethel University, says “People pick their colleges based on factors like how good the wireless network is. They share their experiences online, and we can either look good or have a big black eye.” Quality wireless access has become a competitive differentiator.

Refresh, Refresh, Refresh

Whether you are managing a university, corporate, or hospital network, it is important to keep refreshing the hardware and software to ensure high performance. It is hard to predict what the future will hold, so network architects need to be part seers and part engineers. Just like PCs, the technology changes so quickly that a planned refresh cycle is critical to keep up with demand and with newer devices trying to access the network. Some recommend replacing one-quarter of the components every year while others stretch that out to a five-to-six-year refresh cycle. It depends a lot on demand and requirements of the devices accessing the network.

Thoughts

I remember when we installed the first wireless access points, they truly were a novelty. We targeted conference rooms because all of the offices were already hard-wired so wi-fi in those areas would have been redundant. Times have changed and wireless access is the future. Whether sitting on a park bench or in a restaurant, or playing golf on the front nine, our “always on” society is quickly adjusting to internet access anytime, anywhere. Are you ready?

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

The Double Edged Sword of Information Availability

Photo of man using a smart phone in front of a computer.I recently came across the Harvard Genome Project. For the project, a team of Harvard researchers are collecting personal genome information to share with researchers who hope to create breakthroughs in disease eradication and prevention. It struck me that with our ability to share information and make it available to different groups, either intentionally or unintentionally, we have created a double-edged sword. On the one hand, with technology we have greatly expanded research opportunities and created the infrastructure to track down long lost relatives. On the other hand, our privacy may be jeopardized if that research information falls into the wrong hands or if a long lost relative prefers to stay lost. Is the genie out of the bottle, or are we still in control of the exabytes of information in the cloud, some of it personal?

Research for a Brighter Tomorrow

The Internet that we know today was born as the ARPANET under a contract to the United States Advanced Research Projects Agency. Its original intent was to connect research facilities to share information. In December 1969, Stanford University, University of California Santa Barbara, University of California Los Angeles, and the University of Utah were connected to collaborate and advance research. By 1971, several other prominent universities, private research firms, and government agencies had joined ARPANET, extending the geographical reach well beyond the southwestern U.S. The original Internet was intended to further scientific research, not to share cat videos. In that vein, the Harvard project exemplifies the positive aspects of information sharing.

Technology and Democracy

Before we were all connected by technology, there was radio and television, which are “one to many” media. One broadcast, such as the nightly news or a presidential fireside chat, went out to those who chose to listen or watch. There was no way to give feedback or to refute what might be misinformation. Now people around the world can share real time information on developing stories; we no longer have to wait until the five o’clock news or place complete trust in the newscaster.

We can also take on the role of broadcaster. We can participate more deeply in the democratic process by speaking out on issues of the day and join with others to have an impact on legislation that affects our lives. Whether we live in the safety of the U.S. or in a war ravaged country, we have a voice and it can be heard, thanks to technology.

The downside is the ability to spread misinformation. It is important that we choose carefully the news sources that we trust. The Onion has made a sport of parodying trending news but their articles are sometimes quoted as facts. It is up to each one of us to distinguish truth from fiction.

The Privacy Issue

I wrote a blog in July highlighting the breach of private information submitted to the website Ashley Madison. Users expected their personal information to remain private, but hackers who broke into the site published that information. This is where I wonder if the genie is out of the bottle and any information we choose to share, be it our genome data, private photos, our current location, or politically sensitive information, should be considered potentially public. Would we conduct ourselves online differently if we expected our information to go public? Would we be more careful?

Thoughts

Technology advances have allowed us to share research, information, product reviews, political news, or even to find each other. I believe though that with this new power and connectivity comes responsibility that we sometimes take lightly. We need to approach this new world with eyes wide open. Let me know your thoughts.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

The Information Umbrella’s Best Blogs of 2014

Happy New Year from the AIM faculty and staff!

Our blog writers’ curiosity took some surprising turns in 2014, which sparked us to ask what resonated with you readers. Below is our list of most popular blogs of the year, with a special challenge to astrologers to make sense of the odd coincidence involving publication dates.

Hand holds the world#5 Our Shrinking World

AIM blogger Kelly Brown ponders the question “With everything we have in place, are we really tapping the potential of a shrinking world or still limiting ourselves to the familiar surroundings and friends to supply us with answers and advice?” From April 15, 2014.

parade
#4 So We Had a Parade

Guest blogger Tim Williams, a 2000 AIM graduate, an adjunct instructor for the AIM Program, and COO of Sesame Communications, shares his thoughts on his experience in organizational culture and team building. From July 15, 2014.

digital vortex#3 The Dark Side of the Deep Web

Kelly Brown’s curiosity takes him deep into the layers of the Web. Think onions and murky depths. From April 8, 2014.

overstuffed garage#2 A Terabyte of Storage Space: How Much is Too Much?

How much storage is enough? Kelly Brown calculates just what will fit into 1,000 gigabytes. From July 8, 2014.

 

child using computer#1 Too Many Coders?

Are there too many coders to meet the needs of the future? Not enough? That question resonated with more Information Umbrella readers than any other in 2014, rocketing this blog post to top spot for the year. From February 18, 2014.

 

What do you want to read about in 2015? Send us a message with your ideas.

Don’t miss The Information Umbrella next week when Kelly Brown scores a touchdown with a timely topic!

Internet of Things: How Will They Communicate?

Smart home concept sketchI have talked before about the coming Internet of Things and the changes it will bring. The Internet of Things or IoT is a term coined by Cisco to describe the interconnected nature of devices that are linked to each other and to the Internet or an intranet. Imagine a future where your car communicates with your refrigerator and your oven and your home heating, security, and entertainment systems. On your way home from work your car automatically detects your intended destination and communicates with your refrigerator to release your dinner to the oven. By the time you arrive home the lights are on, your security system has unlocked the door, and dinner is on the table, with soft music playing to soothe you after your hectic day. This is all well and good but it will require a lot of work in the background to embed all of these things with devices and to build the infrastructure to be able to connect everything. This is no trivial task and provides opportunities for both entrepreneurial and tech minds.

IPv4 vs. IPv6

If you think about how many items are produced every day worldwide and then consider that if even a small portion of those items are connected to the Internet you realize that adds up to a lot of unique Internet identifiers or addresses. In the early days of the Internet, a system was developed which provided for unique Internet protocol or IP addresses for every computer. Currently, version 4 or IPv4 allows for a maximum of 232 or 2.4 trillion addresses. IANA, the world body assigned to distribute those addresses, reported that the last block had been given out in February 2011 and the remaining addresses are now in the hands of five regional distributors.

Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) allows for a maximum of 2128 unique addresses. In theory, it should be enough to cover all computers, tablets, smart devices, and “things” for the foreseeable future. Even though IPv6 was introduced in 1995, it is not yet widely used because of the complexity of conversion and the manpower needed for the task. This provides a huge opportunity for  individuals who understand the conversion process and implementation procedures of the new addressing scheme. However, much work needs to be done, and it is not just a matter of flipping a switch.

Embedded devices

There are ample opportunities for entrepreneurs who can not only come up with a way to embed devices in everyday things but also those who can develop the interconnection between devices and who can do a deep dive in to the data to create meaning. There are three important steps that need to take place to make the Internet of Things a reality:

  1. Devices need to collect various data points such as a manufacturing process or a patient status or the geospatial position of a package.
  2. Those data points need to be collected, probably in the cloud, and/or shared with other devices, smart or otherwise.
  3. The collected data needs to be analyzed to affect improvements to the whole cycle. Without this deep analysis, the data will be useless to decision makers.

In all three of these areas, I see opportunities for enterprising minds that already have these skills or are willing to develop them to be out in front of the Internet of Things.

Thoughts

Do you have ideas for everyday things that you wish could communicate, such as your car keys when they are lost, or your car in the mall parking lot during the Christmas shopping season? Some of these are already becoming a reality. It’s your turn to develop the next connected device or help develop the back end infrastructure that will collect and process all of the new data points to improve our work and our lives.

About Kelly BrownAuthor Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program . He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

The Not So Flat World

Road closed by gateThomas Friedman wrote a book in 2005 called The World Is Flat in which he painted a borderless world. It would be borderless in terms of trade, information exchange, resource sharing, politics, and workflow. His premise was that the Internet and associated periphery would level the playing field so that all countries could enjoy prosperity and the full employment. Nine years later, we are certainly further down that path, but there have been some setbacks and roadblocks.

Rebuilding Walls

A recent article suggests that not only is the world not flat, but borders are reappearing that indicate that countries and cultures are closing their doors, as opposed to opening them. In the article, the author suggests “the burst [of the Internet] is leading to a world that is disconnected from physical and political geography.” In other words, there are two developing worlds—one physical and one virtual—and they are not necessarily in lockstep. This idea aligns with recent blogs that I have written on virtual currencies and the retrenchment of countries after the revelation of National Security Agency spying.

Borders in the Physical World

In his book, Friedman cites the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall as evidence that borders are opening and the world is becoming flatter. He argues that this event ushered in a new era of cooperation and a homogenization of communist and capitalist ideals. It was indeed a momentous occasion and did much to introduce western thought into former communist East Germany and beyond. The eastern block countries struggled mightily as western marketers suddenly discovered untapped consumers. They struggled to build their own industry to compete in this new, flat world. This great change aside, borders are still rising and falling as evidenced by the recent integration of Ukraine back into Russia. I think we will see more countries follow as they decide which combinations will bring them the most prosperity and stability.

Borders in the Digital World

Much of Friedman’s book focuses on the Internet as the great leveler. As people have broadened access to thought leaders, they expand their thinking beyond their geopolitical borders and are influenced by a host of outside sources. If we consider this a separate world outside of physical boundaries, then the possibilities are unlimited. Virtual currency is trying to accelerate this growth of the digital world by creating a trading mechanism, uncontrolled and independent of the currency attached to a physical country. Even the digital world has borders however, generally where it intersects with the physical world. Europe, Russia, and China are all talking about creating a local Internet where citizens trade within their own borders and are protected from influences outside of their borders. Thus, the world is becoming less flat as countries and regions struggle with how to keep their citizens secure from threats that were not supposed to develop in a flat world.

Thoughts

Two things intrigue me about this idea of a flattening world. One, the idea that there may be two independent developing worlds, and two, the fact that borders fall and borders rise in both worlds. Again, independent of each other, or at best, loosely connected.

Do you think the world is getting flatter, or do you think it is getting spikier? What do you think of the notion of two separate worlds? Let me know your thoughts.

About Kelly BrownAuthor Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

The Evolution of Record Keeping

Colorful folders fly into your laptopToday’s post is written by Charles Gilman, a current student of the AIM Program. We asked Charles to share his thoughts on his experience with information management.

When I joined the Air Force in 1995, we had two computers in our office— one for our boss and the other to be shared by the rest of us. The shared computer had two main functions: (1) it had MS DOS software which allowed us to record the results of our inspections and download them weekly onto a floppy disk that was sent to a repository each month; (2) it held our medical intelligence (med intel) information which we received from a paramilitary contractor (an expensive one, at that).

The med intel arrived each quarter in a large envelope or a box, if it was a big update. The package contained a disk to upload into the computer and three-hole-punched sheets of paper, including an errata sheet, telling us which pages in these giant binders need to be replaced. You see, for decades, we maintained all med intel in binders under double lock and key. In our office, we secured these binders in the boss’s office in a large, bright red metal footlocker with a white cross on it, and only our boss had the key. This information was classified “secret” so any of us who had to work with the med intel had to have a security clearance. In reality, because the med intel came from the CIA and other assets on the ground, by the time it had been vetted, processed, printed, and sent out to update us, it was months, if not years out of date.

When we connected to the Internet in 1997, it didn’t take long to realize just how obsolete this entire process was. Being able to plug directly into the CIA’s World Factbook, I found it had far more information than what had been contained in our binders. Plus, the information was/is free and updated regularly, so I suggested we stop wasting money on the contractor’s product and use what was already available.

I cannot describe the skepticism towards the Internet in those early days. The absolute resistance to trust computers, much less the Internet, was incredibly intense because so many viewed the Internet as a fad—a toy which was simply a waste of time. Those who were resistant to change argued their case and would rather continue paying thousands of taxpayer dollars per year for out-of-date information (which really wasn’t very exciting anyway—most of the “intel” just listed flora and fauna which had been present for a very long time), instead of using what was available free of charge. I had to print out pages of the Factbook to compare to what we had in our binders to demonstrate how much more information was available.

Back then, I never would have predicted what happened next—our boss loved the change, but she required me to print out those pages to update our binder. I actually wasted several days burning through reams of paper to create our own Factbook (a printed product that could have been ordered from the CIA), before my direct supervisor discovered what I had been doing and brought this insanity to a halt.

Thankfully, we’re far more trusting of computers and electronic information today; although, working for a state agency, I continue to see remnants of that past. We still have staff who print out electronically submitted forms and employees who, rather than e-mailing information, send it by mail and pick up the phone to call and notify the recipient to expect a letter. Electronic security is still a concern, but the sooner we fully buy into electronic media, the sooner we will make greater strides toward sustainability.

Our Shrinking World

Hand holds the worldI spent the past few days in New Jersey and New York City. As I walked around, I heard some languages that I speak, some that I recognized, and some that were totally foreign to me. I was born and raised in a small town and still live in a relatively small town, so hearing this array of languages is unusual for me. As I thought more about this, I realized that the world is becoming smaller. Due to advancements in communications, transportation, and technology, I can easily go to New Delhi or Sao Paulo, or I can meet those citizens who have traveled to my own town. It is possible to communicate with people of the world either face to face or through electronic means. I wonder though, with everything we have in place, are we really tapping the potential of a shrinking world or still limiting ourselves to the familiar surroundings and friends to supply us with answers and advice?

Communication

We have come a long way in terms of communications in the past 150 years. We sometimes think that we have always been able to communicate with someone instantly, but that is not the case. The first telegraph message was sent by Samuel Morse in 1844 between Baltimore and Washington D.C. Never before could a message go from point to point without having to be carried by runner, horse, or boat. The first voice broadcast over wire took place in 1876 and shortly after, in 1901, Guglielmo Marconi followed with the first transatlantic wireless broadcast. These technologies allowed communication from ship to shore. Wired telephone communications turned wireless and transformed into the phones that we all enjoy today. Our smartphone has an incredible heritage and now doubles as a data communication device.

Transportation

Transportation has also developed rapidly to allow us the freedom to move easily about the world. Early maritime travel was hampered by the notion that the world was flat, but once that was disproven, explorers could reach out to new lands and new people. Voyaging over land and water advanced dramatically after the invention of the steam engine, enabling people to go great distances on steam ships and trains. This led to similar inventions in personal transportation by giving us the internal combustion engine that allowed for automobile travel. The world got even smaller with the advent of air transit and it has only gotten faster over the past 100 years. With our modern infrastructure, we can make a journey to the next town or around the world with very little effort on our part.

Technology

Technology has also made our world smaller. It has completely changed the way we communicate with each other and how we organize work. Work groups, by necessity, were originally created around developing, manufacturing, and distributing physical goods. People in the group could see each other, speak with each other, and create products together. Many knowledge workers today are separated from their teams by miles if not continents. We can now take advantage of the moving sun by shifting work around the globe. In essence, a team could, with the right coordination, work on an idea or a product twenty-four hours a day. Even with the great advancements in transportation, we are no longer bound by those constructs. We can create a team of people from far-flung places of the globe and generate incredible new ideas and products. I think that this is the promise that was launched by Morse, Marconi, Bell, Fulton, and other pioneers.

Thoughts

Are you using advanced technologies to your advantages or are you stuck in an old paradigm? How has communications changed for you over the past ten years? Have you changed the way you organize work and recruit the best people for your project? The power is in your hands if only you will use it to develop and create something great. Let me know your thoughts.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at nigh

The Dark Side of the Deep Web

Digital vortexThere have been a number of stories and references to the “Deep Web” in the media over the last two months, including references in Season Two of the Netflix series “House of Cards.” With a renewed interest, I wanted to make sure that I was clear on the different terms associated with the Deep Web. My research prompted me to dig even deeper (pun intended).

The Surface Web

The surface web is the part of the web that is searched by sites such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. It is estimated that this surface layer accounts for only 1–5 percent of the entire web, as illustrated in a recently posted infographic from CNN. This surface layer excludes database search results and all corporate and academic sites behind a firewall. Search engines build and search from an index, so if a site is not part of the publicly searchable index, then it is not included in this layer. It is also possible for a website to intentionally become unsearchable by using a particular metatag.

The Deep Web

The Deep Web is the layer that lies below the surface. Every time you query an online database, the site creates a new page. That new page, however, is not included in the surface layer index because the web crawlers cannot do the same thing. The web crawler can only build an index by visiting websites and searching their links as well as the links referencing those sites. Other examples of data in the Deep Web are academic journals that are either behind a “for fee” structure or protected by a firewall. All intranet data on corporate networks also resides in the Deep Web layer. Businesses such as Bright Planet provide services that assist you in navigating the Deep Web.

The Dark Web

The top two layers can be considered to house legitimate data and transactions; they simply represent information that can be searched and indexed by web crawlers (surface) and information that cannot be seen by automated searchers (deep). Within the Deep Web, however, is an isolated area called the dark web. This is the area where cyber tracks are erased and transactions for goods and services may or may not be legal or legitimate. You can access this part of the web through browsers such as TOR that can be downloaded and allows access to the TOR network. TOR is an acronym which stands for “The Onion Router.” If you think about an onion and its layers, TOR allows you to access the core of that onion. TOR operates by hiding originating addresses among a network of servers so the end user remains anonymous. This area may house legitimate anonymous transactions but it is also the home of drug and other illicit trading.

Thoughts

I think it is important to understand the different terms relating to the different layers of the web and to understand the purpose of each layer. Could you benefit from a service that dissects the larger Deep Web for big data not available in the surface web? It is possible and very useful to be knowledgeable about all available options so you can provide the best IT service to your customers.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

The Second Machine Age?

Steel robotic android hands holding blue digital earth I have been reading a book recently called The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by MIT researchers Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee. In this book, the authors project a future where mankind will work alongside increasingly sophisticated computers and machinery to create a better world. They tell a compelling story about the history of the industrial age leading up to the current technological age and describe our current time as the second machine age.

Others, however, are not so optimistic about our technological trajectory and where it is leading us economically. In 2003, economist Tyler Cowen wrote a book titled Average Is Over: Powering America Beyond the Age of the Great Stagnation in which he argues that technology has been and will continue dividing workers into two classes. Those workers that are proficient with such technology as computers and robotics will thrive, but those who are not will find themselves unemployed or underemployed. In the author’s defense, he does lay out strategies that can help the latter class to join in the prosperity.

My purpose for this blog post is to start a dialogue and hear your thoughts on the pace of technology changes and how they will affect our future and our economic system. Will technology lead us into a bright future or drive us into perennial unemployment?

The Second Half of the Chessboard

In their book, Brynjolfsson and McAfee refer to another publication, The Age of Spiritual Machines. The author, Ray Kurzweil, draws an analogy between the old story of the emperor and the inventor, and our current technology advancement. In the story, the inventor of chess negotiates with the emperor for payment for this new marvel. He asks only one grain of rice that doubles on each square of the chessboard. The emperor readily agrees, thinking that the inventor is indeed a humble man. By the time they reach thirty-two squares, he is up to 4 billion grains of rice. After that, they reach the second half of the chessboard where things get really interesting and will eventually reach 64 quintillion grains of rice.

This story is based on exponential increase, and the analogy is that we are just now entering the second half of the chessboard. If you thought that the pace of technology advancement was furious in the past, hang on for a wild ride in the future.

Thoughts

The questions still remain—will we benefit from technology or will we be run over by it? Will we be driving the bus or be passengers? I believe that it is up to us and how prepared we are. It is going to take work and constant learning to be in the driver’s seat. What do you think? Are you optimistic or are you worried? Can you keep up? Let me know your thoughts by replying to this post. I hope that we can start a conversation and figure this out together.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

 

The Beginning of the End of the World Wide Web?

Outline map of world overlaid with razor wireI wrote a blog post recently on the fallout of the revelations about the US National Security Agency (NSA) spying last year. One of my concerns at the time was the balkanization of the Internet. Balkanization is the process of drawing national borders around the Internet, much the same as physical borders. We would no longer have the World Wide Web, instead it would be broken up into the Web of Germany, the Web of Japan, the Web of Chile, and so on. This would be done to protect a nation from activity such as spying on another nation. National Internet traffic would stay within country boundaries and a strong national firewall would be constructed for traffic that had to move across the border. I have been reading stories the past week that have confirmed my fears: nations are slowly moving toward just such a model.

Germany

A recent article out of the UK reveals that Germany is floating plans for a European communications network meant to bypass the US and prevent spying by the NSA and the British counterpart, the GCHQ. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is quoted as saying:

“Above all we’ll talk about European providers that offer security to our citizens, so that one shouldn’t have to send e-mails and other information across the Atlantic, rather one could build up a communications network inside Europe.”

The Germans are particularly incensed by revelations last year that the Chancellor’s cell phone was monitored from the US Embassy in Berlin. This is just the beginning of a proposal, but it feels like the beginning of walls being built.

Brazil

According to a recent article in IEEE Spectrum, Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff is pushing legislation: “… to force Internet companies such as Google and Facebook to store local data within the country’s borders. She also wants to build submarine cables that don’t route through the United States, set up domestic Internet exchange points, and create an encrypted national e-mail service.” Now, those are not just switches and routers that would be directed inward but national cables would be off limits, too. In other words, Brazilian traffic could only flow over Brazilian cables.

China

The Great Firewall of China already exists; it restricts Chinese citizens’ access to the full Internet. There are censorship mechanisms in place to ensure that information going in and out of China meets government standards. The same filters are already in place in Russia although not to the same extent. India is also looking for ways to close the borders of the Internet. All of these efforts counter one of the basic premises of the Internet—the fact that it is open and accessible to all.

My Thoughts

I agree with a recent open letter to President Obama from Peter Singer and Ian Wallace of the Brookings Institute. They state in the letter:

“The sooner that we can articulate a clear, robust case for a U.S. vision for the future of the Internet, the better. And that needs to be one that, while acknowledging the natural shift away from U.S. control, makes both the pragmatic and principled arguments for preserving the values that have made the Internet such a successful driver of positive global economic, political and social change.”

The Internet is not US-centric, although history and some countries would suggest otherwise. It must remain an open exchange without borders, without censorship, and without state oversight. The whole metaphor of the “cloud” transcends borders and allows the Internet to operate efficiently and openly. Advancements in networking technology have allowed us to operate across the globe and I believe that it would be a giant step backwards to erect artificial barriers where they don’t belong.

Are you concerned about a splintering of the Internet? Let me know your thoughts.

 

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.