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The Power of “Click”

Review of John Patrick keynote at Zero-Knowledge’s “Privacy by Design Conference”

by Fred Carter

Montreal, Canada

December 3-5, 2001

According to John Patrick, VP Internet Technology at IBM, only 4-5% of the Internet’s potential is being used. There is a growing gap between consumers’ expectations and what they get. Compare the convenience of generating postage bar codes via the Internet vs. archaic online service centers that require you to print and fax forms back to them during normal business hours for processing in weeks. We can close the gap with technology and attitude. Issue: application integration. Ask the kids: Instant messaging is preferred way to communicate online, yet MNC’s prefer the “old way” with snail mail, fax machines, and 9-5 hours of operation.

Future Primitive

John Patrick VP Internet Technology, IBM


“Primitives” are semiotic signposts for the future. The most successful future technologies will have these attributes: Fast; Always On; Everywhere; Natural; Intelligent; Easy; Trust.

Fast: Despite the economic downturn, there will be over 50M high bandwidth subscribers by end-year. Optical backbones and Wireless LANs (IEEE 802.11) are being deployed; We are seeing the advent of “edge” servers.
Always On: Forget dial-up modems – “Always on” connections are changing consumer expectations and use dramatically, and will fuel network growth far beyond the current Web, e.g. we can close the garage door remotely using our cell phone; health telematics allow pacemaker data to be uploaded for real time hospital monitoring and response.

Everywhere: The PC browser will lose its monopoly on displaying content, as other devices, such as televisions, pagers, smart cell phones, and PDAs tap into the network. The convergence of Instant Messaging (IM) and broadband wireless technologies will mean that affairs can be conducted anywhere, anytime, with no more dead waiting times or missed opportunities.

Natural: People are evolving with technology. Ask the kids: “synchronous” IM is more natural a communication medium to use than asynchronous e-mail –still the Internet’s “killer app”. There is potential of IM to go far beyond “chat” with the growth of back channel communications networks, e.g. help lines allow you to find and purchase on the spot; conferencing anywhere, anytime; hi-quality satellite “XM” radio signals that you can listen to while driving across the continent.

Intelligent: Content is not what it used to be: think instead of “fragments” published to different media, called up or assembled by multiple different devices. Application integration is the “Holy Grail”. Devices will learn to talk to one another, make coordinated decisions, and perform automated tasks at our bidding. “A dial tone environment for the web”: Autonomic computing systems mimic our bodies; Servers that sense power failures -or hackers- and call for help; new apps for e-learning, knowledge management.

Easy: Not easy to design and build, but easy to understand and use. Open standards will provide the framework for the global application web that allows you to pay for your hotel room using your frequent flyer reward miles – all in one quick online transaction. Grid computing means cheap and accessible “IT on tap” by any device.

Trust: Like the multiple plastic ID’s in your wallet, new technologies and distributed network and database architectures will allow us to use multiple digital IDs online. They will be used in different trusted relationships to authenticate and secure data privacy. The consumer will be in control, carrying data-keys. P3P is making strides. There is still confusion around security v. privacy. Government leaders should resist temptation to regulate too much.

Internet Attitude: Think outside in vs. call center mazes. Think big, start simple, iterate like crazy, and grow fast.
How to survive and thrive: Listen to customer, anticipate next generation; build on frameworks, get a taste of Internet Culture: talk to kids —talk to the elderly.

Net Attitude
alphaWorks Community – IBM