Bob Frankston: Thinking Outside the Pipe

by admin on Oct.18, 2011, under Uncategorized

(Original at Bob’s Blog)

Monday, October 17, 2011

We’ve unnecessarily restricted the benefits that we and our economy can enjoy from [the Internet's] abundance because of the artificial limitations of the telecommunication industry’s limited palette of services.

 

A picky eater can be undernourished amidst abundance. The Internet has given us a taste of the abundance all around us. But we’ve unnecessarily restricted the benefits that we and our economy can enjoy from that abundance because of the artificial limitations of the telecommunication industry’s limited palette of services.

Connecting a mobile pacemaker to a physician’s office is simple using Internet protocols but it becomes difficult when the telecommunications providers control the path and need to assure that they make a profit from each message. It’s similar to the problem of asking a railroad to serve a small town that doesn’t buy many tickets. Fortunately we have an alternative – roads serve the communities without having to be profitable because they benefit the community.

Cities provide roads everywhere because they don’t need every inch of pavement to be a profit center. When New York City’s private transit companies failed, the city took them over instead of letting them fail.

The wires that run along our streets cost very little by comparison to roads, so why are we investing so much effort to prevent us from communicating unless we pay a provider?

[. . .]

We need to free ourselves from the past and recognize that the Internet is based on a very different concept.

To understand this we can look at the packets, or containers, we use to ship goods across the oceans. They can be loaded on boats without the ship owner knowing what is inside. The containers can take any path across the ocean – they aren’t restricted to channels and you can even use airplanes.

If you are shipping an entire factory you split up the components and place them in containers. When they get to the destination you reassemble them in order and if some get lost you ship replacements.

One might not be so casual about delays and replacements for expensive gear; but with Internet packets that all happens within a thousandth of a second.

[. . .]

 

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