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December 2007 General Meeting

Program Review: John Patrick on The Future of The Internet

by Chris Novell

For the sixteenth consecutive year, John Patrick, President of Attitude LLC and former vice president of Internet Technology at IBM, delivered a speech on the future of the Internet, both informing and entertaining the audience composed of both members and guests.

The well attended event has been a staple on the DACS program calendar, a presentation containing insights and perspectives gathered by Mr. Patrick from a myriad of international sources. Indeed, he relayed to the audience that at a conference recently, someone had remarked that his placement of the current Internet at 5% of its potential was perhaps even too high!

There were several contributors to the Internet that got high marks from Mr. Patrick. eBay was cited for its careful attention to their process from end to end, or, as he refined, from beginning to end. Escrow, shipping, taxes, terms and conditions, recourses, and reputation are just some of the details the company addresses. The federal government received recognition for its early leadership and innovation with the availability of e-filing tax returns, and the huge gaming industry was named as contributing to the development of certain practical skills such as learning how to collaborate and communicate. Universities are realizing that it makes sense to enable students to retain their email addresses on a permanent basis. Danbury Hospital now uses a Smart Card, eliminating the need for the clipboard sign-in sheet.

Noting that Nintendo’s Wii has a browser, Mr. Patrick described what many of us may have had as a transient thought: the PC is becoming a minority player! He sees the hand held category as continuing to gain prominence.

Mr. Patrick expressed his belief that U.S. corporations are not responsive enough to the modern commerce constellation: customers are expecting a 24/7 online marketplace that offers choices rather than barriers. He also pointed some cultural differences that have occurred. Most adults in Europe and Asia readily send and receive text messages on their cell phones whereas American adults are not so inclined, and Asians commonly make use of vascular scans, a biometric technology that does not require any actual contact.

The Internet continues to expand the reach of people everywhere, Mr. Patrick commented. Linux is changing the game, to a situation where if there is a problem that needs an answer, a person can turn to the community. Home schooling, which used to take place in the home, can now take place online as well. Mr. Patrick believes that there can be adequate policies to provide for privacy. He also favors the structures that are needed for safeguards to be provided by technology, rather than by laws. As an example, he referenced the “Do not call” legislation that is burdened with 19 exceptions.

In closing, Mr. Patrick reiterated the trend for people to be empowered by the Internet. He recommended getting some pointers from kids. Oh, and yes, his website, patrickWeb is written using OpenOffice.