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'Father of Internet' Comes to Town
Vint Cerf and other Internet luminaries debate global open web strategies in Seoul
Cynthia Yoo (cloudatlas)     Print Article 
Published 2008-06-20 13:37 (KST)   
Vint Cerf
©2008 Photo courtesy of Joi Ito
Vint Cerf is known for his snowy-white beard, his snazzy three-piece suits and a certain set of communication protocols that laid the foundation of Internet networking. Numerous awards and accolades have followed Cerf since, including the title of "Chief Internet Evangelist" at Google.

Cerf along with other global open web experts, met with their Korean counterparts at the "Future of Global Web Technology Forum" this past Thursday in Seoul, to discuss the adoption of global web technologies and standards within the Korean web ecosystem. The conference promised lively and insightful discussions into how Korean Internet companies can emerge from their "walled-gardens" into the global open-web environment.

The forum, sponsored by Korean Internet communication technology (ICT) firms such as KT and MSKorea, took place in a packed auditorium with hundreds of young Korean web developers eager to listen to the proselytizing open web evangelists.

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They came to hear the "Father of the Internet" Vint Cerf predict the future of the web. And deliver he did. Cerf ruminated on current and future global trends and their effects on the shape of the Internet in 2035. Given current global population and environmental trends, Cerf predicted that the vast majority of new web users would be from developing countries and that ICT will advance to meet the rising costs of transportation and communication.

The consequences of such advances in ICT, Cerf said, are that the logic of the Internet will shape laws and policy. Intellectual property law will adapt to meet the realities of ICT. Cerf also predicted that the next great challenge for web developers will be to fashion a semantic web that would recognize not only text but also its meaning. Cerf concluded his talk by highlighting his great concern over BIT ROT; the growing problem of lost knowledge because of changing technology that interprets the information.

Following Cerf was Mitchell Baker, the other keynote speaker of the forum. As a board member of the Mozilla Corporation, Baker argued for open and transparent development of web standards. She argued against quick "innovative" applications that serve short-term profit margins and lead to long-term effects of industry fragmentation.

Baker highlighted Korea's use of Active X applications on encryption keys to highlight such "innovative" applications that keep developers in their walled-gardens and hold-back innovation in the long-term. Baker said that Korea finds itself in a technology fork: whether to continue using active X applications that prevent non-IE browser usage and innovation or to join the rest of the world in creating open-web standards.

Most of the speakers gave sales pitches on their companies' new products and services. Choi Doo-hwan, the KT CTO spoke on the concept of the "Invisible Internet." The idea elaborated in the April, 2008 issue of Wired, forecasts that consumers will no longer access the Internet only through their PCs or mobiles but also through gadgets like the Wii and even household appliances that tap the Net selectively. Choi then pitched how the new KT SoIP (IPTV) service showcased this idea.

Likewise, Laurence Moroney from Microsoft pitched their new Silverlight application. Moroney spoke on the need to balance "innovation" with following industry standards. He cited AJAX as the classic example of an innovation that set the industry standard.

Nonetheless, Moroney found himself battling criticisms that MS favoured their own competitive edge over fragmentation of the web. In the Q&A session that followed, Moroney defended MS actions as innovative applications that delivered a "richer consumer experience" than industry standards would allow.

Moroney was perhaps speaking to the wrong crowd as they were already converts to the open-web ideology that sees Microsoft as more of a barrier than a ready partner.

Cynthia Yoo is an OhmyNews staff writer.
©2008 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Cynthia Yoo

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