JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 44 : May 24, 2001

Business, marketing & futures commentary.
New attitudes, no platitudes.
Stay e-tuned....

  • Computerless Software
  • MIT Tech Review : Nanotech, Infotech and Biotech
  • George Gilder: The Coming Boom
  • Book: P2P - Harnessing Disruptive Technology
  • Free online access advances inexorably
  • eFeedback :
    • eNews balance
    • Anonymity
    • Are whiners for real?
    • Silicon body Borgs

Computerless Software

Today's computer hardware and software all reflect desktop power, where remote access is still obtained through a relatively slow modem connection. With practical high-bandwidth (DSL, cable-modems and eventually optical-fiber connections) most computing will be done remotely and the desktop computer will simply be a window to access the Internet. In his 1998 book "Machine Beauty: Elegance & the Heart of Technology" David Gerlernter wrote: "Software's ultimate goal is to break free of the computer."

It has been estimated that within the next few years, the average computer user will have 5,000 gigabytes of personal information scattered around the Internet - emails, photographs, videos, movies, TV programs, sports events, books, teleconferencing archives - all part of what Gerlerntner calls "lifestreams". SUN proclaims: The Network is the computer. But perhaps, soon we will wonder what a computer is…

Interestingly, because of his technology involvement and predictions, David Gerlertner was crippled and nearly killed by a bomb; he has never recovered his full hearing or full use of his right hand. The bomb attack came from the infamous Unabomber - the Harvard educated engineer, anti-technology, neo-luddite Theodore Kaczynski, who is now in jail awaiting execution.

David Gerlertner wrote another book: Mirror Worlds, in '92 - and has now started a company called Mirror Worlds Technologies, with software called Scopeware. (Apparently the name Lifestreams was not available).

Click Take a look at Mirror Worlds Technologies and Scopeware

Click Review excerpts of Gerlerntner's book Machine Beauty

Click David Gerlertner's The Second Coming - A Manifesto

Free Online Access Advances

When a scientist has made a discovery - often after many months or even years of tedious experiments - they typically publish their results in a scientific journal (usually for just the honor, with no payment). Up to now, scientific journals have controlled who can read them and who cannot. But, perhaps not for long.

A self-organized coalition of 15,817 scientists have threatened to boycott all journals that fail to provide free online access to their articles within 6 months of publication. Instead, they insist that they will publish in a free online venue. The scientific journals have long resisted this, seeking a price for information that is usually provided free of charge. The scientific community has ramped up this debate, with authors now starting to force the hand of the information providers for "the public good".

This kind of grass roots organizing bodes well for the future value of the Internet. You may recall (JimPinto.com eNews - April 20, 2001) MIT’s impressive April 4 decision to put nearly all its course materials online, for free access to anyone who is interested, setting a standard we can only hope other leading universities will follow.

Click Scientific American article : Publish free or perish!

Click MIT makes nearly all courses free on the web

MIT Tech Review : Nanotech, Infotech and Biotech

MIT Tech Review has launched three new topic areas: Nanotechnology, information technology and bio-technology. This is an excellent way to monitor some of the latest topics in these three important arenas.

Click MIT Tech Review Nanotech

Click MIT Tech Review Infotech

Click MIT Tech Review Biotech

P2P: Harnessing the power of disruptive technologies

We have previously discussed Napster, as one of the best-known examples of the burgeoning P2P (peer-to-peer computing) arena.

Recently, O’Reilly Publishing released a book: "Peer-to-Peer: Harnessing the Power of Disruptive Technologies", a collection of chapters written by the people who are driving the state of the art in the P2P space.

The traditional client-server Internet model ("client" asks for and receives information from "server") is beginning to give some ground to peer-to-peer networking, where all network participants are approximately equal. P2P participants, usually ordinary computers run by everyday people. ICQ chat service and Napster music-sharing are examples.

The primary advantage of peer-to-peer networks is that large numbers of people share the burden of providing computing resources (processor time and disk space), administration effort, creativity and legal liability. Further, it's relatively easy to be anonymous in such an environment and it's harder for opponents of a peer-to-peer service to bring it down. The primary disadvantage of peer-to-peer systems is the tendency of computers at the edge of the network to fade in and out of availability. Also, accountability for the actions of network participants is a problem.

By forming networks of computers at the so-called "edge" of the Internet, it is possible to offer valuable services without the burden of building and administering large, centralized computer systems of the sort that host traditional Web sites. Napster is the most successful example to date, though nerds will note that it's not a completely peer-to-peer system because users register their file libraries with a central server when they log on to the service.

This book is NOT about how to build the next Napster system. Rather, it aims to get its readers thinking about what happens when information systems shift away from client-servers towards the peer-to-peer model.

Click Internet World article - Peer-to-peer Power

Click Review HARNESSING P2P and buy the book online

George Gilder Essay : The Coming Boom

The companies that George Gilder waxes eloquently about in his Technology Report have crashed in the stock market, just like most of the others. However, Gilder remains the pre-eminent technology soothsayer and predictor of inflection points.

Gilder’s latest (May 2001) essay in The American Spectator is worth reading. He harps on his theories of definitive abundance with irrepressible energy and usual metaphorical license:

    "In every era, the definitive abundance is revealed by the price of a key factor of production, plummeting over a cliff of costs and releasing. Like a giant river reaching a falls, the key resource releases a surge of kinetic energy into the economy as the price drops. From horsepower to kilowatt hours, the countries, companies and individuals that exploit the ever-cheaper resource gain market share against all others, and end up casting the character of the age."

Gilder predicts that even if the current administration and Federal Reserve follow "their well-trodden paths of failure", they will delay the tidal wave of new growth, but cannot stop it. He insists that the Telecosm will still prevail, and investors who understand its dimensions will be able to "spurn the catastrophists and prosper from the largest opportunity in the history of the world economy."

Click George Gilder in The American Spectator : The Coming Boom


Regarding the balance between tech-futures, marketing and industrial-automation news, Steven Rakers [rakers@att.net] gave this e-advice :
    "I think many enjoy hearing the industrial automation news. However, I also enjoy the technology future information. Perhaps a combination of the two is the right balance?"
Jim Pinto response :
    I will continue to do my best to provide good eNews. To all you industrial automation mavens out there : eSpeak to me! Send me more "stuff" !
One ardent eNews reader was e-anxious :
    "I am tempted to dish some inside info to you, but wonder about the anonymity. How could you "protect the innocent" ? Not only am I part of the machine but, as a loyal employee, I am interested to develop us into a company lacking in the current arrogance that (I feel) is endemic within large corporations. (PS: You should see some of the self centered powerpoint presentations I see !)"
Jim Pinto response :
    You may be sure that, if you request confidentiality, your name will NEVER be mentioned, or even linked, to a story I e-publish.
Anthony Kerstens [anthony_kerstens@netzero.net] was e-wondering :
    "With all this inside information you get, have you ever wondered if the source is negative to the point that their fears and dour predictions are like self-fulfilling prophesies? I ask this because the tone behind a phrase like "internal mental masturbation" strikes me as tired and frustrated. It's like this person has already given up on the battle and has no interest in even trying."
Jim Pinto response:
    Not all of the comments I receive are negative, though the negative ones always seem to be more provocative. Some people are more open than others, and many get frustrated with their superiors and the bad stuff they see, and so they tend to vent. The good ones leave. I do try to get confirmation from at least a few people before I e-publish anything significant.
Bob Dannenfelser [bobdannenfelser@mottley.com] Systems Engineer at Ingersoll-Rand e-commented on The Silicon Body:
    "I read with great interest your recent articles regarding the emerging "merging" of flesh and technology. Being a StarTrek fan from way back, it dawned on me that we have the potential of becoming the BORG! Could we slip into the role of the "bad guys" without even realizing it? Makes the cloning controversy seem almost hum-drum! Is resistance futile?"

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