by Jack Corcoran
It was our December 2001 DACS meet-ing and once again John Patrick packed the house. It was his ninth presentation to our user group. And, once again, he shared with us his penetrating and comprehensive view into the way the Internet is evolving.
John Patrick is Vice President of Internet Technology at IBM Corporation. His responsibility is to be sure that IBM is at the cutting edge of Net development and going in the right direction. His actual role as he describes it is strategist, Internet evangelist and chief dreamer. In this role John lives and works with Net developments all over the world.
I have had the privilege of writing the DACS.doc reviews for the last four of John’s presentations to our user group. Looking over my notes of those reviews, a remarkable and impressive pattern emerges. His basic theme over those years has not changed and he has been right. The particular emphasis of each meeting has changed, though. This emphasis is John’s real gift to us in that it tells us what to look for and how to deal with it.
His basic theme over the years is how a great platform is constantly evolving.
Great hardware devices
- Cheaper and more powerful computers of both the PC and server variety that are the means of building the platform.
- Other computer-based devices such as hand helds, kiosks, imbedded controllers, and dedicated processors can also use the Net
- A variety of high speed means for data transmission over wire, fiber and through the air are all capable of doing the job, and the content could care less which path it travels.
Great software vehicles
- Effortless e-mail. Ask any teen-ager.
- Virtual conferencing.
- Language translation conversations
- B to B packages that are now taken for granted.
- Cyber vehicles for doing more, cheaper, faster.
All of this makes for a truly marvelous platform, but John continually emphasizes that it is only a platform. What it really does is make information available – anywhere, any time, and, potentially, to any one. The real value of it all is what people do with that information.
Over the years the base of John’s presentation always has been the marvelous capability out there. But the message he delivers each year is based on the current status of development. Let’s go back a few years and look at the different emphasis he made at each presentation.
December 1998 – technology has delivered a platform for doing great things. The possibilities are limitless. The Net is evolving to be always ON. Information availability is moving power to the people. E-business is where it is all going. We are moving into a new way of life.
December 1999 – the capabilities are blossoming. Applications are going on line. Bandwidth galore is now available. The next-generation Internet (Ngi) is being contemplated. The people using Web applications are enhancing their lives and fortunes.
December 2000 – euphoria. Web-based systems are approaching real time. The disruptive changes are moving into mainstream. Pockets of cyber activity are all over the globe and flourishing. In many cases the utilization overseas is ahead of that in our own country. Everything is headed up.
Then a funny thing happened on the way to the forum …
December 2001 – we were all anticipating John’s explanation of the .com bubble burst and the implications of the stark realities of 9/11. And once again his insight and perspective came through.
He pointed out that the .com failures are probably good in the long run in that we return to responsible and practical business practices. He also pointed out that the financial impact of the .coms on the overall economy was actually rather small.
Even though our life as a citizen is permanently changed, John did not see Net activity being adversely affected.
The first part of John’s December 2001 presentation was what we always look forward to, a view of the cutting edge developments.
On the technology side,
- Video TV is progressing nicely and with the advances in bandwidth, the Net will inevitably deliver TV of the quality we expect to see in our living room.
- The modem is currently the bottle neck.
- It is not crucial which of the currently competing high bandwidth methods or suppliers will prevail. The functional capability is what really matters.
- Servers will soon have to be much more powerful.
- The new IEEE 802.11 standards for wireless connections will have a major impact. Devices integrated into the home and portable devices (notebooks, hand helds, etc.) will easily interact with near by central computers and communication stations.
- Autonomic computing routines for self healing and self managing.
- Digital signatures are being integrated into applications.
- Linux continues to captivate those who would like to be captivated.
So it’s all available and functioning. But it was here in the presentation that John Patrick’s voice displayed just a touch of impatience and frustration. Not everyone is jumping into the play box. There is reluctance by some to move away form the old way of doing things. There is even rejection (with rationalization, of course) by others. However, John then came through with the characteristic insight and projection that we have come to expect from him.
The emphasis of the December 2001 presentation was not on the hardware platform and the software vehicles. They have matured to where they can provide an e-environment that provides a major enhancement of our way of life. The means are here, but they have not yet been accepted and practiced by the percentage of the population necessary to establish the Net as the structural foundation of our economy and communication system in the way the automobile is the structural foundation of our transportation and residential system.
From his observational vantage point, John sees the elements necessary for the Internet to achieve that level of societal acceptance and integration. He bundles his ideas on this under the catch word phrase “Net attitude.” He explained this as the mind set generated by thinking big and using the Net capabilities in new ways to do old things in completely new ways.
This insight is pivotal to anyone seeking fame, fortune, or fulfillment on the Internet. He is telling us that the future now lies in the established ways of getting to the minds of the people. In order for the Net to bring power to the people, we must bring the people to the power. When thinking garage sale, the first thoughts must be of the Internet, not the garage.
“Net Attitude” by John R Patrick, Persens Publishing, is his book, which came out in September 2001. In it he uses 2/3 of the book to set up his premise, then the last 1/3 to describe the mind set that will take us into the Internet way of life that will inevitably transform all that we practice today.
I have previously described a John Patrick presentation as “… taking his audience on a magic carpet ride over the landscape of our emerging e-world.” At our December 2001 meeting John again did exactly that. Read his book. It is our future.
Jack Corcoran is an old retired computer programmer who has enjoyed a magic carpet ride over the ever-changing computer landscape since the vacuum tube days. He can be contacted at [email][email protected][/email].