“Oh How We Weave The #Web :)” ~@DebraUlrich #quote

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In 1969 scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles, transmitted a couple of bits of data between two computers, and thus the Internet was born. Today about 2 billion people access the Web regularly, zipping untold exabytes of data (that’s 1018 pieces of information) through copper and fiber lines around the world. In the United States alone, an estimated 70 percent of the population owns a networked computer. That number grows to 80 percent if you count smartphones, and more and more people jump online every day. But just how big can the information superhighway get before it starts to buckle? How much growth can the routers and pipes handle? The challenges seem daunting.

The current Internet Protocol (IP) system that connects global networks has nearly exhausted its supply of 4.3 billion unique addresses. Video is projected to account for more than 90 percent of all Internet traffic by 2014, a sudden new demand that will require a major increase in bandwidth. Malicious software increasingly threatens national security. And consumers may face confusing new options as Internet service providers consider plans to create a “fast lane” that would prioritize some Web sites and traffic types while others are routed more slowly.

Fortunately, thousands of elite network researchers spend their days thinking about these thorny issues. Last September DISCOVER and the National Science Foundation convened four of them for a lively discussion, hosted by the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, on the next stage of Internet evolution and how it will transform our lives.

DISCOVER editor in chief Corey S. Powell joined Cisco’s Paul Connolly, who works with Internet service providers (ISPs); Georgia Tech computer scientist Nick Feamster, who specializes in network security; William Lehr of MIT, who studies wireless technology, Internet architecture, and the economic and policy implications of online access; and Georgia Tech’s Ellen Zegura, an expert on mobile networking.

“Few people anticipated Google’s swift rise, the vast influence of social media, or the Web’s impact on the music, television, and publishing industries. How do we even begin to map out what will come next?” ~ Powell

“One thing the Internet has taught us thus far is that we can’t predict it. That’s wonderful because it allows for the possibility of constantly reinventing it.” ~ Lehr

“Our response to not being able to predict the Internet is to try to make it as flexible as possible. We don’t know for sure what will happen, so if we can create a platform that can accommodate many possible futures, we can position ourselves for whatever may come. The current Internet has held up quite well, but it isready for some changes to prepare it to serve us for the next 30, 40, or 100 years. By building the ability to innovate into the network, we don’t have to know exactly what’s coming down the line. That said, Nick and others have been working on a test bed called GENI, the Global Environment for Network Innovations project that will allow us to experiment with alternative futures…” ~ Zegura


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