40 years ago the Internet was born - now it devalues everything it touches

40 years ago the Internet was born - now it devalues everything it touches

Summary: The Internet will enable a new golden age of humanity but getting there will be very messy...

TOPICS: Browser
There are millions of people being disrupted out of their jobs thanks to the Internet. Is it a good thing? I think so... Let's take a look at its beginnings:

The first command typed in was "lo" which crashed the entire Internet - all two machines. Internet Reaches 40th Birthday Milestone

Undergraduate Charley Kline was given the simple job of logging on remotely from UCLA to the SRI machine; his one command was "login".
The first attempt, however, proved too much for the "interface message processor" or IMP for short - the system crashed as young Charley reached the letter "g".

... 12 years on, only 213 computers being linked up to the network.

The Guardian is collecting stories for its "A people's history of the internet."

To mark the 40th anniversary of the first stirrings of the internet we asked you to tell us your experiences of life online. Hundreds of you responded, and here we present an interactive documentary of your stories and videos, alongside our own research and interviews with key figures (About this project)

Without doubt, the Internet is the most significant collection of technologies ever created. It enables huge numbers of new types of businesses and services, many of them replacing pre-Internet businesses. Anything, any service, business, that can be digitized is now open to disruption because of the Internet. The Internet devalues everything it touches. I define "devalues" in a monetary sense, dollars and cents because clearly it creates tremendous amounts of value. But that value often cannot be quantified or measured, or recovered, in a financial sense. For example, look at the transition to online journalism -- it creates tremendous amounts of value because huge numbers of people read online journalism but we don't have (yet?) a good way to recover the value of that work in dollars. And journalism is not the only sector being disrupted in this way because of the Internet. The challenge for Internet based companies is to figure out how they can transform the value that they create into dollars and cents. The challenge is that competitors can continually undercut each other because the costs of providing Internet based services is relatively inexpensive and it is difficult to lock up customers. Switching costs are very low for customers. It helps if you are government regulated. The Telcos, for example are able to make use of VOIP and other advances in communications technologies to reduce their costs of doing business yet they are still able to raise the price of their services. Being a government regulated industry helps them keep competition away. But if you are in the music industry, movie industry, journalism, software services, cloud computing, if you are a software engineer, if you are a web designer, if you design logos, if you do any kind of digital work you are exposed to a huge amount of competition, you are exposed to the lowest cost provider in your sector -- thanks to the Internet. It's interesting that countries spend billions of dollars to protect their living standards by limiting immigration because they know that low-cost labor hurts the living standards of their citizens. Yet there are no controls on exporting jobs via the Internet. That will change or at least there will be efforts made to change this and other aspects of Internet use, because of the disruptive effects that it enables. It's not a good thing but some governments will try to do this. I believe the Internet will eventually enable a new golden age but getting there will be messy. These are interesting times. Happy birthday Internet. --- Please see: The Internet devalues everything it touches . . .

Topic: Browser

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  • you are devaluing your proffesion

    shame on you.

    internet is one of the greatest invention in human history.
    • Establishing walled islands on the Internet

      The Internet is like a huge river, or better yet, sea, that allows users to move from small island to small island (web application), to find the things they care about. I believe similar to the way countries establish rich, compelling environments to keep people in, companies that exist within the Internet need to establish extremely rich, sophisticated island economies to keep people in, so that they can prosper and grow.

      Google is able to do this via brand and scale. But the vast majority of companies which cannot achieve scale to provide sufficient free, ad supported services, need to, I believe, use differentiated user experiences and services, to make money under tier priced subscription models - maybe starting from free. Therefore e.g. a group of web sites and blogs oriented around computer news, could come out with a common e-reader software for the PC, which allows users to access these web sites' content, with a distinctly better user experience and set of services than that found in the browser, and these web sites could charge for access to the e-reader software and services, using tiered pricing. Users would still be able to access the group's free web sites. But they would also be encouraged to download the e-reader software and enjoy a better user experience - from a cost of free or very modest annual fee, to higher subscription fees. People with a casual interest in computer news may wind up sticking with the free web site, but many computer enthusiasts would probably opt for the e-reader software - and provide a means for the web sites to monetize their content better.
      P. Douglas
      • No thank you.

        I don't want to install a separate piece of software for all the various on-line services I want to consume. That makes absolutely no sense and defeats the whole purpose of a web browser (i.e. only one piece of client software on my machine that gets me everything I need).

        And don't forget that everything you install on your system that has to connect to the internet is a potential attack vector. Web browsers (all of them) have problems but at least you can elect to have only one or two. Imagin if you had to trust every content provider to develop secure software for their individual "e-reader". No thank you I say.
        • That's all right. But many companies and consumers can benefit from them.

          A large amount of desktop software already connects up to the Internet. This includes iTunes, the Zune desktop software, Windows Media Player, Windows Media Center, MS Office, Windows Live Essentials, and iLife on the Macintosh. All of the above software give you better user experiences than the browser, and manage security well. It is in a lot of companies' best interest to come out with local software for PCs and devices, because this allows them to better differentiate themselves from one another, and suck people off of the browser, which tends to drive the value of their services down towards zero.
          P. Douglas
          • Actually I've gotten pretty sick of that.

            Everything under the sun wants to phone home to its master to automatically update itself. Sure, I realize that there is a lot of that out there, but I'm all for reducing it wherever possible - not increasing it.
      • Information and knowledge should be free.

        If you follow trends, the internet is currently one of the best ways to obtain information, and knowledge, for free. Also, with less bias - as people can go and read several different sides of a story, get more facts, and such.
        I tossed out my TV back around 9/11, due to stupid media companies and their stupidity, lies, and hype. Actually, I didn't toss it -- I kicked it out the window after watching a blatant lie in the news reports which I was witness to while I was deployed. They twisted things around so badly so that they could have the next new media frenzy. I haven't owned a TV since. I like my internet. I like open source, which the internet enables. I like the 'net for news, which I can read anywhere I wish, and if something interests me I can check as many sources as possible so that I can get the misinformation/bias out, and get the truth in.

        I don't like installing proprietary, buggy, flawed, and backdoor-having software to do anything. As another person said, my browser is the only software I will ever use for finding information on the internet.

        News sites generally generate revenue through advertising, which consequentially is the same as they do on TV (paid channels - which STILL have ads - aside). The internet should be no different. And if it ever changes for the worst, then the public outcry will be immense... and someone will most likely make a new 'net, or just hack the crap out of the one we have now. Either way would be fine with me, though the latter has it's merits since it punishes those who would have the world live in a darkness of knowledge. It is bad enough as is.
    • If you could spelllll ...

      your message might mean more.

      His is right on.
  • The king's fate

    I continue to find your definition of 'devalues' unsatisfactory. You focus too narrowly on a business perspective, indeed the perspective of one business. Your logic is akin to M$ defining the meaning of the word 'capable'. Looking at what is happening in the wider context is far more helpful.

    In plain English. Journalism is not devalued by moving online for its principle virtue lies in communication, the work of the investigative reporter allied to the skill of the roving photographer. We hear 'the papers were full of it' to describe a momentous event. What value was the reporting of the recent tsunami to the Thai people and holidaymakers? In the 2 hours it took the wave to traverse the ocean ... would they have preferred a quick Internet newsflash to the reams of sympathetic condolences?

    The Internet speeds the transmission of digital information so any business dependent on it can therefore be made far more EFFICIENT. Typically the accompanying change in delivery media disrupts the MONETISATION of that business. That's much more transparent! Those two words tell the essence of the story.

    Unfortunately for businesses they don't go together! Increased efficiency tends to mean less money. Moreover big increases in efficiency mean a lot less money. We do not lament the invention of knitting machines to make cheap clothing for the penniless immigrants you bar from your country (or perhaps you'd like to go back to hand knitting?). Of course things should be done in a controlled manner.

    So get on with it then! I say again: will King Canute please get off his royal ar*e and start the transition already. The wave will hit you in only one hour now. Your presence on the shore will not be viable.

    "The challenge is that competitors can continually undercut each other because the costs of providing Internet based services is relatively inexpensive and it is difficult to lock up customers."
    The ideal situation ... unless you are an incumbent business.

    "The Telcos, for example are able to make use of VOIP and other advances in communications technologies to reduce their costs of doing business yet they are still able to raise the price of their services. Being a government regulated industry helps them keep competition away."
    Suggesting a change of government/regulations ... and explaining why the EU Commission keeps a close eye on your antics ... and why you are having such a problem with NN in the USA ... and why consumers feel they are being ripped off.

    I look forward to the destruction of many incumbent businesses: moreover will speed their demise if I can. In the words of the poet:

    And darkness rises from the eastern valleys,
    And the winds buffet her with their hungry breath,
    And the great earth, with neither grief not malice,
    Receives the tiny burden of her death.
    The king is dead. Long live the king.
    • Fair enough...

      Yes, the Internet does challenge the monetization of the services and
      products businesses produce, that's the "value" they create. And I
      support the greater efficiencies the Internet enables. And I do resent the
      telcos keeping a walled garden around their business and not exposing
      themselves to the greater efficiencies enabled by Internet technologies.
      Consumers are paying way more than they need to. How long can they
      keep doing this? With the government on their side they can keep it up
      for a long while. Maybe WiMax and similar technologies will be able to
      vault the walls...
  • By your definition....

    the industrial revolution devalued human labor, science "devalued" religion, education devalued scribes, etc, etc.
    You can't put a "value" on something you don't understand, like the old farmer in "Grapes of Wrath" that wanted to talk to "the man" at the "Land Company" evicting him.
    Progress always displaces the unprepared.
    • Great title - sure to get hits!

      But "devalue" is a little disingenuous. It's really the ultimate [i]market equalizer[/i]. It makes markets more efficient, leveling the playing field by giving everyone access to the same information in order to properly value transactions.

      In the past, having more information than your competitors virtually assured you'd come out on top. The Internet has pierced that veil.

      Granted, there is still an imbalance of information, as there is still info not yet on the web, just as there is incorrect information as well.

      Not to descend down into a political discussion, but the Internet can be called the great Democratizer, because everyone gets a voice. Of course, these very forums are a good example of what happens in a true democracy, as opposed to a federalized, representative democracy. ;)
      • The main thing devalued is "Truthfullness"!

        Anyone can annonymously claim to be an expert and put out distorted information as fact (IE: advertising fluff, slanted reviews, etc).
  • RE: 40 years ago the Internet was born - now it devalues everything it touches

    and not one mention of AL Gore I think he needs to go back and check his facts...Al Gore invented the internet just ask him.
    • Givre it up, Dead

      Al Gore did not invent the internet.
      Al Gore does not think he invented the internet.
      Al Gore never said he invented the internet.
      • Gore quote:

        drobinow: Do you have a source?

        Here's one for you: http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/stories/1999/03/09/president.2000/transcript.gore/

        I don't know how you could possibly misconstrue his words... (emphasis mine)

        From an interview with Wolf Blitzer on March 9, 1999:

        BLITZER: I want to get to some of the substance of domestic and international issues in a minute, but let's just wrap up a little bit of the politics right now.

        Why should Democrats, looking at the Democratic nomination process, support you instead of Bill Bradley, a friend of yours, a former colleague in the Senate? What do you have to bring to this that he doesn't necessarily bring to this process?

        GORE: Well, I will be offering -- I'll be offering my vision when my campaign begins. And it will be comprehensive and sweeping. And I hope that it will be compelling enough to draw people toward it. I feel that it will be.

        But it will emerge from my dialogue with the American people. I've traveled to every part of this country during the last six years. During my service in the United States Congress, [b]I took the initiative in creating the Internet.[/b]...
        • Gore quote

          And you're misquoting. It's very convenient that you end the quote in the "creating the internet" part as well. Here's the full quote:

          "But it will emerge from my dialogue with the American people. I've traveled to every part of this country during the last six years. During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country's economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system."

          I'm no native speaker but that seems to indicate that he's trying to take some credit for your government infrastructure deployment initiatives.
  • Perception is, everything on the internet should be free.

    And its cousin is, everyone is "entitled" to all they can eat.

    Sorry but I see a great deal "bad" about the internet but am unwilling to throw the baby out with the bath water.

    You are right though, interesting times ahead.
  • RE: WRONG 12yrs later only 213

    To date myself back in the late 70's I was at U of Il on
    ARPANET conversing with people in UK, Russia, Asia, and
    family on Plato terminals.
    The terminal had a 8080 processor, but no OS to speak of.
    Still number is low.
  • RE: 40 years ago the Internet was born - now it devalues everything it touc

    The Internet and digitization don't devalue anything. It removes CONTROLS by certain businesses and entities (like governments!). Controls of access, information and replication shifts the ability of those businesses and governments to limit product or it's distribution to the individual. Those who don't adapt will perish. GOVERNMENT controls are the worst solution.
  • Absoluetely Right

    We continue to equate "low cost" with "good value" and contrary to economic dogma, that simply isn't true.