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DACS General Meeting December 2008

Program Review : John Patrick – Future Of The Internet

by Sean N. Henderson

John Patrick at podium

The excitement over our December meeting is still being felt. John Patrick took the stage before the largest DACS audience of the year – all eager to hear about the technology that touches nearly all of our lives.
John Patrick has given this presentation to our group well over a dozen times. At the beginning of his presentation, he was presented an engraved thank-you gift – a chrome dash plate for one of his motorcycles displayed on his website. He then began his presentation with the excitement and eagerness of someone who truly understands the role of technology in modern life.
Much of his program comes from his book, Net Attitude, and those who have seen it previously recognized many of the slides and stories. One of the features that remains the same is this percentage number – the Internet is still in the 5% of its potential. He maintains this low number despite the record number of people worldwide now on-line and on other metrics. He still criticizes many, if not most, businesses for having an inside-out mentality – where the Internet is a tool used to push back on customers or where businesses miss the mark completely and gave numerous examples. John Patrick sees the Internet as being a democratizing force giving “power to the people” and a way to give people real choices.
John Patrick champions government and the public sector for being closer to these ideals. One example he cited was the U.S. IRS’ e-File program with it’s large participation numbers. He went on to give examples on how even Danbury Hospital – where the meeting took place – was forward thinking.
For the businesses he offers as examples of having it “figured out”, he still uses eBay as an example of a company that thought through the experience of using their service in an end-to-end fashion. He also mentioned that eBay may be the largest reputation database in the world. Nuggets like that demonstrate how much John Patrick really envisions how organizations should interact with their customers.
New this year was his talking more in depth and thankfully defining “cloud computing”, and what it means for everyday people and for those who are tech savvy. Personally, he uses Google Docs and Gmail exclusively for all his office-related tasks. His logic is that Google probably has better system administration, reliability and security than what he can offer with his own servers and backups at home. He said he still needs to run Windows for a couple of applications (he mentions Quicken), but otherwise the Internet and software titles will use more frameworks and software layers to make operating system choices more flexible.
The keys for a successful Internet and Net Attitude, as Mr. Patrick describes in his book, are: fast, always on, everywhere, natural, easy, intelligent, and trusted. Some of these attributes, such as trusted, are obviously more difficult than others to implement and to be accepted. He readily discloses that much of what is blocking the Internet’s potential is often as much political if not technological. He cites lobbyists for Verizon getting public Wi-Fi blocked in many jurisdictions. He also used Verizon as an example of a company that missed the mark by unreasonably limiting what types of requests could be handled by way of email.
He also spoke about the changing role of libraries and schools. Libraries, he said, were already expanding, not with books, but with events and computer labs. He also talked about the Internet Bubble, and said that the problem wasn’t technology, but poor business models “trying to push water uphill.”
Mr. Patrick is a great speaker and especially on this topic. DACS looks forward to the next time our members and visitors are treated to this presentation.
As a reminder, DACS General Meeting presentations are free and open to the public, and held at the Danbury Hospital Creasy auditorium. DACS has been serving the Danbury and surrounding communities for nearly two decades. Visit dacs.org or see any Board Member for information on joining DACS and getting involved.
Sean N. Henderson is a DACS director, officer and regular contributor to DACS.doc.