Building the next Internet

Ignorance and greed are on target to break the current Internet, so what will the next one look like?

The Internet's rapid rise and impending fall has been amazing to witness. Sure, technically it's been around for 30-plus years, but for most of humanity, the Internet showed up in 1997. In those brief 15 years, the baboons of ignorance and greed have been doing their damnedest to destroy it, as this SOPA and PIPA nonsense clearly exhibits. Even if they've been shelved or postponed for now due to the massive and highly publicized backlash, they're guaranteed to return in a different disguise sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile, those of us who built the thing have been trying to keep it going. The Internet started off like an Airstream camper from the 1960s: a sleek and futuristic symbol of a new era, a shiny vehicle that would take us to unexplored frontiers. But instead of transporting us to, say, the Painted Desert, it would bring us to a golden age of knowledge and enlightenment. It would carry us to the next level for humanity. For a brief period of time, it was all those things, and it was glorious -- a bit slow, but glorious.

[ Also on InfoWorld: Find out why Paul Venezia thinks politicians should never make laws about technology. | Roger A. Grimes details 10 building blocks for securing the Internet today. | Subscribe to the InfoWorld Daily newsletter for the key news in technology development and IT management. ]

The Internet of today still resembles that trailer, but we've bolted a few jet engines to the rear end and used a ton of J-B Weld to glue on new parts and try to keep the older, critical components together, all while rocketing toward the horizon at a breakneck pace.

The whole time, those baboons keep throwing bombs from the side of the road.

The Internet began and grew organically. It was constrained by the limits of technology, which caused it to be used and appreciated by a select few for many years. The advent of faster links, better protocols, and -- most important -- pictures brought it into popular conciousness.

But at that point, the basics were in place, the frameworks were solid, and technological advances in high-speed and long-distance data transmission allowed for monumental growth that brought us to where we find ourselves today. The fact that the continued exponential growth of the Internet has caused no significant problems to date is a thundering testament to the minds that developed those core concepts.

But there are gaps and fissures, such as the dismal state of security, the corruption of SMTP due to spam, and other plights. In time, those issues could be dealt with and fixed. The real problem is that the baboons are using larger bombs and are getting way more accurate.

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