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DACS General Meeting December 7, 2009

Program Review : John Patrick – Future Of The Internet

by Rob Limbaugh (DACS president)

John Patrick at podium
We had a fabulous turnout for John Patrick’s annual presentation, “The Future of the Internet”. This was John’s eighteenth time back and he brought several new perspectives along with updates from the past year.
The US still lags behind many other countries in public technology infrastructure. We also pay for slower delivery compared to those in Europe. Many municipalities outside of the US offer Wi-Fi everywhere.
America is also slower at adopting the ‘Internet in your hand’ or, as John put it, “When asked where the Internet is, what would you answer?” In many countries the answer is “Wherever you are” because of Internet connectivity on cell phones and PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants).
He commended the US Government’s stance of being mostly “hands off” with regard to restricting the Internet and how it interconnects and works. John pointed out how it is important to note how easily and swiftly things could have become restricted, in part due to events such as 9/11, and how such restrictions and changes would have completely disrupted the core concept of the Internet as it is today.
We were introduced to a new term: lifelogging. This is where people are blogging on sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, and refers to others who have a history of their life already ‘online’. John said that whatever one’s personal view on ‘lifelogging’ is, everyone—especially young people—should be very mindful of the long term impact that it can have and of the possible repercussions. Our social lives are becoming more and more searchable on the Internet and some of us are contributing to the point that privacy may hardly exist for some. (Side note: Recent news headlines have included reports of authorities using publicly available searches on the Internet for solving crimes, determining whereabouts, social connections, and possible motives.)
Medical information sharing is rapidly changing. John explained how Danbury Hospital, local practices, pharmacies, labs, and radiology services are establishing methods and systems so that a medical profile is accessible to those that need it. For example, digital copies of blood test results can be accessed by a doctor who can then electronically submit an updated prescription to a pharmacy that can then fill the order after confirming there are no issues with other drugs or allergies. Then , it can be ready for you to pick up. You could access the information and also consolidate your medical records for historical purposes.
Cloud computing was another point of excitement. John explained that the Google Android phone and the Chrome OS are changing where the ‘desktop’ resides, as well as your information and the way you access it in general. The phone and netbooks are moving in a direction where they are access portals rather than computing devices.
Some things still need work. John recapped how companies really need to step up to the ‘always on’ concept, especially for playing in a global consumer base. Email is still the ‘killer app’ because we all use it, but the paragraphs of disclaimers need to go. A business that still has a cheesy looking website cannot expect to be taken seriously anymore—if an inferior competitor has a better site, they will probably win out.
I certainly look forward to having John Patrick back next year and hear his assessment of how things he’s explained have panned out, what netizens learned from them, and how the Net will change as a result.

And from the editor Patrick Libert. . .

IN THE EIGHTEEN years that John Patrick has been prognosticating to DACS audi- ences on the Internet phenomenon, I have been a member for only five. But in a single presentation, I feel like I’ve relived the whole revolution. He has that special knack to make tech- nology a fresh and interesting subject, regardless of the composition of the audience I embraced computer technology in the early nineties, not as a contributing “geek” but as an end user with a technological degree who loves everything scientific.
The development of the Internet has allowed me to delve ever deeper into the ocean of this technological explosion which we are witnessing in our lives daily. I will be the first to try a new software, a tantalizing piece of hardware, almost as soon as it released.
John Patrick confirms that we are only at the threshold of what we will be able to accomplish in the future, thanks to tech- nology. What is the most important ac- complishment of the Internet? In my opinion, increased communications between human beings anywhere. Increased communication > better understanding > less conflict!
Let’s all embrace it.