Rainie, Cerf interview: Google, Internet encounters and economic problems of journalism

28 04 2010

Special session four kicked off just after 4 p.m. with Lee Rainie interviewing Vint Cerf, co-inventor of the Internet Protocol and chief technology evangelist for Google. Cerf helped Rainie establish the Pew Internet Research Center and assisted with its earliest research initiatives.

Lee Rainie interviews Vint Cerf during a special session at FutureWeb2010. "The part I like most about my job is the repeated and regular exposure to people who are smarter than I am," Cerf told Rainie. (Photo: Dan Rickershauser)

Cerf addressed questions about his position at Google, which he describes as developing in real time; unexpected encounters with the Internet over the years; and the controversy surrounding services in China.

“A piece of me is always astonished (by the Internet),” Cerf said. “Every time a page comes back with all the pieces, I’m astonished. If you knew all the things that had to happen for that page to come back, it’s really amazing.”

He says younger generations have a different view of the Internet and its technologies because “it’s always been there, and isn’t always remarkable,” quoting the adage, “technology is what you didn’t grow up with.”

Cerf reminisced over the initial stages of the Internet, including the moment when he realized that it would be possible to commercialize the system. Prior to the late 1980s, there had been no attempts to utilize the tool to make money.

He said the turning point came in 1989 when commercial email systems were able to connect online to different email systems. Instances of spam mail that followed broke the policy in government that said no commercial traffic could flow through a government-sponsored system.

Rainie asked Cerf to elaborate on the “dark side” of the Internet, including the continuing problem of spam.

“Spam became a problem because email was free,” Cerf said. “If we found a way to charge a little for email, then span would have been less of a problem.”

Another problems that Cerf attributed to the dark side is cyberwarfare, which he said occurs on an international level with the general population gains access to technology and abuses it. He said its important to realize that when something because this essential to society’s infrastructure, problems are bound to arise. The important thing is to learn how to cope with the issues.

Rainie and Cerf discussed the possibility of government intervention and the implications of asserting authority in an effort to maintain order. He said he is sympathetic to the idea that there should be a plan for dealing with a serious disruption to the system. At the same time, he hopes that “if there is such a plan, the openness of the Obama administration will allow for greater scrutiny.”

When addressing  the question of Google’s management of its China services, Cerf said he is part of a group whose job is to discuss corporate policy. His group has long debated whether Google should offer services to China, because it didn’t want to be in a position where the government could demand information to expose someone.

Click to see Vint Cerf speak on the recent controversy between China and Google:

“The outcome is pretty interesting, and of course some of it is still in play,” Cerf said. “China isn’t the only regime exhibiting concern about the use and abuse of the Internet. There isn’t any pixie dust we can sprinkle and make everything better. In this decade, we have to live through the bad parts and the good parts.”

Cerf discussed the economic problems of modern journalism and the ways he thinks the news media can best survive.  He said the steady erosion of newspapers began well before the Internet had a strong presence. Journalists should consider the cheapest and most efficient method of distributing news.

“I think if the news industry is going to survive in online mode, they’re going to have to provide more than just news,” Cerf said. “They’re going to have to engage with readers in a way that they can take reactions. This more engaged form of news reporting might be an interesting way of gaining readership and increasing the likelihood that advertising can support it.”

He said the quality of news reporting is now essential to the success of a publication.

“People are going to have to be a little braver about going online and doing things they haven’t done before,” Cerf said.

-by Ashley Dischinger

ADDITIONAL DETAILS FROM THIS EVENT…
Video and more written FutureWeb coverage:
http://bit.ly/imaginingtheinternet
FutureWeb YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Futureweb2010#p/u
Flickr photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/38539612@N02/sets/72157623891937652/





Internet needs to have more accessibility to poorer countries, Berners-Lee and Weitzner say

28 04 2010

In an afternoon session led by Lee RainieTim Berners-Lee and Danny Weitzner of NTIA (National Telecommunications and Information Administration) discussed the future of the World Wide Web and its accessibility to poorer countries and areas within the US.

Tim Berners-Lee discusses ways to bring Internet access to poorer countries with session moderator Lee Rainie. Photo by Elon University Relations photographer Kim Walker. Creative Commons rights.

“The overall motion is very much forward,” Berners-Lee said. “We could get to where the Internet could become socially unstable… If someone understands the technology in ways we don’t understand it, they can use it in ways we think is unfair”

Weitzner of NTIA said the company is developing ways to research Internet usage through working with the Census Bureau.

“We have the advantage of being able to work with the Census Bureau…and find out what people are doing with the Internet, who’s using it and who’s not,” Weitzner said.

According to Weitzner, 65 percent of Americans have broadband Internet.

“Were interested in those other 35 percent,” Weitzner said. “Why don’t they have it…where do they live?… A big part of research going forward is finding out who these people are.

“We know the 35 percent is disproportionally rural,” Weitzner said.

At NTIA, funds from the recovery act are being spent on broadband infrastructure improvements and grants are being utilized towards middle mile projects (fund Internet extensions to low-service areas in the country).

Research is not just looking at the U.S. though. The WWW Foundation explores the health of the Web and who has global access, Berners-Lee said. He said 20-25 percent of people around the world use or have access to the web. Only one percent has access in Rwanda.

Danny Weitzner, left, also participated in the afternoon discussion, speaking about ways to maintain quality Internet access for the masses. Photo by Elon University Relations photographer Kim Walker. Creative Commons rights.

Weitzner said he was grateful the Obama administration has put so much effort into researching Internet accessibility.

“We’re not there yet as you know and I think that’s what we all have to work on together.”

Another concern of Weitzner’s was how to keep the Internet available to the masses. He blamed this on how some internet service providers have blocked certain traffic and have to control the way people use their internet connections.

“There’s now a question mark about how we the Internet will remain open and non-discriminatory,” Weitzner said. “It’s going to be an important couple of months coming up as we see how this all plays out.”

According to Berners-Lee, education will be greatly affected by the Internet. He said organizing data on performance in classrooms does have benefits but it risk standardization issues.

In a later question posed by an audience member on his ideal classroom setting, Berner’s Lee described it as having “the biggest screen I could possibly buy, best sound system, fastest computer and fastest  Internet connection.”

Video:

Tim Berners-Lee talks about his biggest surprise with respect to the Internet

Danny Weitzner talks with Lee Rainie about the results of the census and description of broadband and use

-By Laura Smith

ADDITIONAL DETAILS FROM THIS EVENT…
Video and more written FutureWeb coverage:
http://bit.ly/imaginingtheinternet
FutureWeb YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Futureweb2010#p/u
Flickr photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/38539612@N02/sets/72157623891937652/





Sir Tim Berners-Lee: Open government and the World Wide Web

28 04 2010

The second WWW keynote session began at 11 a.m. with Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, sitting down to a keynote plenary panel discussion on issues surrounding open government and the World Wide Web today.

WWW 2010 - Panel. Left to right, on stage: Tim Berners-Lee, Andrew McLaughlin, Nigel Shadbolt, David Ferriero and Paul Jones. Mediated by James Hendler. Introduction by Michael Rappa followed by N.C. Lt. Governor Walter Dalton. April 28, 2010. Photo by Elon University Relations photographer Kim Walker. Creative Commons rights.

The panel was moderated by James Hendler, a pioneer of the semantic Web from RPI. Panelists included Andrew McLaughlin, deputy CTO for the US Executive Office of the President; Nigel Shadbolt, director of the Web Science Trust and Web Foundation; Paul Jones, UNC professor and director of ibiblio.org; and David Ferriero, archivist of the United States.

Each panelist had an opportunity to answer a question, before opening it up to discussion to the audience.

Berners-Lee first addressed the overlying question of why society should push for access to government data on the Web.

“It is a resource that has huge value,” Berners-Lee said. “It turns out the data is much more powerful when matched up with something else online. The real benefit of the Web is the serendipity. You find that people will use the information for all kinds of other things.”

He says that open government on the Web also implies greater transparency, allowing the way the country operates to become very apparent and enables people to hold the government accountable. Berners-Lee says this can lead to stronger checks and balances and opens the government to the constructive criticism of the people.

“What keeps me up at night is more having to do with the culture of the government than anything else,” Ferriero said.  “For me, it’s a social problem. It is a bottom-up initiative (to encourage agencies to undertake more transparent practices.) Governments need to be transparent, collaborative and participatory.”

McLaughlin says one way society can encourage agencies to assume more transparent practices is by showing how open data sources can actually improve business practices.

“Open data actually helps you do your job better,” McLaughlin said. “We need to persuade companies that they can look better and operate more effectively by freeing the data.”

Jones spoke about some local initiatives, including the North Carolina Sunshine Foundation. The organization has developed a reputation as a strong advocate for open access to government information.  Citizen participation is crucial to the continued push for open government on the Web, he said.

“We’re trying to pull off a revolution as to how governments relate to data…there’s going to be some turbulence,” McLaughlin said.

As citizens continue to push back through the “turbulence” in the fight for open government on the Web, Shadbolt raised a rhetorical question that struck the core of the issue:

“How are you going to make sense of the data around you if you can’t find it?” Shadbolt asked. “We’ve got a long ways to go… but the assumption is we can move there.”

-By Ashley Dischinger

ADDITIONAL DETAILS FROM THIS EVENT…
Video and more written FutureWeb coverage:
http://bit.ly/imaginingtheinternet
FutureWeb YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Futureweb2010#p/u
Flickr photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/38539612@N02/sets/72157623891937652/





The new Internet holds opportunities, threats Cerf says in WWW2010 Keynote address

28 04 2010
WWW 2010 - Vint Cerf keynote address, April 28, 2010. Photo by Elon University Relations photographer Kim Walker. Creative Commons rights.

WWW 2010 - Vint Cerf keynote address, April 28, 2010. Photo by Elon University Relations photographer Kim Walker. Creative Commons rights.

Vint Cerf gave the keynote speech to officially open the WWW2010 International Conference in Raleigh April 28.

“I’m a little daunted to come and speak at this conference,” Cerf said. Cerf described his work at Google as working in the “underlying plumbing” of the Internet and not as much the visible work most consumers see.

In his speech, Cerf spoke on new features of the Internet as well as the dangers most recently threatening it.

Currently the Internet serves 1.8 billion users, approximately 26 percent of the world’s population Cerf said.

Two of the newest aspects of the Internet that are important are cloud computing and social networking, he said. Mobile phones are also allowing for this technology to be made portable.

“Mobiles are starting to become capable in interactions of sensory interactions (such as photography, video, sound etc.),” Cerf said. “The notion is that everyone here can become a reporter of information, not just consumers of information.”

Cerf also said technology such as Patty Mae’s sixth sense technology, which detects human gestures, may be seen more frequently in the future.

“We clearly need to do some serious work to articulate and discover the information that’s out there,” Cerf said.

Cerf also highlighted some of the threats the Internet is currently experiencing.

“Authenticity is becoming increasingly important,” he said. “There a lot of things on the net that are virtually unauthenticated and we believe them.”

Security issues are another threat, Cerf said.

“There a lot of security problems on the net and they are not just technical,” he said. “They are consequence of people succumbing to social engineering…we are guilty for choosing the same password for everything so we’ll remember them.”

Some other threats Cerf mentioned included naïve browsers, weak operating systems, hackers and privacy invasions.

“We all become reporters and we’ve created an environment where we can share that information with anyone if we want to,” he said.

New technology the Internet is utilizing, Cerf said, includes flow routers (as researched by Stanford professor Nick McKeown), massive data correlation and sensory networks.

Cerf said his overarching point was “there is a lot that can be still done to today’s internet to make it a lot better.”

-By Laura Smith and Ashley Dischinger

ADDITIONAL DETAILS FROM THIS EVENT…
Video and more written FutureWeb coverage:
http://bit.ly/imaginingtheinternet
FutureWeb YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Futureweb2010#p/u
Flickr photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/38539612@N02/sets/72157623891937652/





Day One of FUTUREWEB starts now!

28 04 2010

The first day of the FutureWeb conference at WWW2010 in Raleigh features the following schedule – JOIN US…

TWEET from FUTUREWEB!
Please use the hashtag #fw2010

FOLLOW FutureWeb events on TWITTER! http://twitter.com/futureweb2010

READ BLOGPOSTS from FutureWeb!  https://futureweb2010blog.wordpress.com/

FutureWeb daily VIDEO/WRITTEN COVERAGE!  http://bit.ly/imaginingtheinternet

TODAY is a FUTUREWEB SPECIAL EVENTS DAY

9-10:30 in BALLROOM A – VINT CERF WWW KEYNOTE:

FutureWeb attendees are  invited to the WWW2010 KEYNOTE BY VINT CERF, Internet pioneer and Google vice president.

10:30-11 – Coffee break

11-12:30 in BALLROOM A – WWW KEYNOTE PANEL:

FutureWeb attendees are invited to the WWW2010 KEYNOTE PANEL discussion on OPEN GOVERNMENT AND THE WORLD WIDE WEB featuring SIR TIM BERNERS-LEE, inventor of the World Wide Web; ANDREW MCLAUGHLIN, deputy CTO for the US Executive Office of the President; JAMES HENDLER, a Semantic Web pioneer from RPI; NIGEL SHADBOLT, director of the Web Science Trust and Web Foundation; PAUL JONES, UNC professor and director of ibiblio, and DAVID FERRIERO, archivist of the United States.

12:30-2:20 – Lunch on your own

2:30-3:30 in ROOM 402 – Special Session:

A series of public interview sessions are being led by LEE RAINIE, director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project. At this first one he will speak with Web inventor SIR TIM BERNERS-LEE, and DANNY WEITZNER, formerly W3C Technology & Society policy director, now the associate administrator for policy at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration

3:30-3:50 – Coffee break

4-5:15 in ROOM 402 – Special Session:

LEE RAINIE interviews VINT CERF, co-inventor of the Internet Protocol and chief technology  evangelist for Google.

5:15-6:30 in BALLROOM A – WWW reception:

Only open to those who are non-students, with professional, government or academic passes.

6:30-7:30 in ROOM 402 – Special Session:

LEE RAINIE keynote on the Future of the Web. http://bit.ly/cTa7kH