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Views from the Prairie

October 15

Time for New Internet

It is time to call for a new Internet. The current Internet was designed for an academic lab, not the needs of business. We need a new Internet especially when we start having the Internet of Things being used in business. The risks are just too huge.

There are a couple of requirements for the new Internet. First off has to be that when communicating with a remote device, both sides know who really is talking to each other. The current state of email spamming, web site spoofing, DNS redirecting, and other fraud is not acceptable. We are starting to build Internet access into critical infrastructure such as electricity grids, traffic control, medical devices, and policing. We cannot afford to have the same wide open, fallible network when human lives are at stake. The recent examples of people being able to hack into and take over automobiles shows just how bad things can get. This requirement is critical when considering remote updates of equipment.

A second requirement is those who put costs on other people have to pay those costs. We see how the cellular networks are moving towards that with the data limits and different rate plans for different amounts of usage. The same has to be done with email and web sites that push data onto other machines. Those who are sending out huge amounts of "spam" need to pay for that. Those who push out videos in ads need to pay for that bandwidth use.

Yes, this new Internet will not be anonymous. We can leave that to the old Internet. Business needs secure, secret communication but where everyone is known. Compare the Citizens Band Radio with a cell phone. Both communicate widely and you can move around with both. One has anonymity and is a bit dated. The other does not have anonymity but fits with the needs of business.

Can we have a new Internet? Absolutely. If we can shut down the air space and require an immediate update to airplanes to make them safe, we can do the same to the Internet. It is time to call for federal action to make a new Internet.

Entrepreneurs and Revolutionaries

Reading up on revolutionaries shows that they often have a very strong idea of how the world should be. They become convinced that they know better than those who are in power today and take action to make the world in the way that they want it to be. The Revolution in Cuba changed some things but mostly it stagnated.

Entrepreneurs share that strong sense that they know how the world can be changed. Without that sense, very few people are able to build a successful business. But there are some important differences between revolutionaries and entrepreneurs.

One major difference between the revolutionaries and entrepreneurs is that of examining the results of their actions to see if the results are what they really wanted. When revolutionaries do not find the results they wanted, they turn on each other to find the blame for what went wrong. The Soviet revolutionaries quickly started purging their ranks of those who were not "pure". American extremists of both conservatives and liberals have done the same. Religious revolutionaries have expelled people and (in previous centuries) gone to war with those who did not agree.

The best new products are not ones where we get to impose our ideas on society, but where we give others new capabilities to make something happen. For example, the Apple Macintosh was a commercial failure until someone else came in with a laser printer and the ability to print at a higher quality what was on the screen. Suddenly, millions of people could see how they could do more.

Successful entrepreneurs talk about how many times they had to "pivot" and change what they were doing because the results were not what they wanted. It is a constant re-evaluation of the situation to see if our solution will work or can be sold for a profit.

Another difference between entrepreneurs and revolutionaries is the acceptance of the "right time". New products and services only work when offered at the right time - a time when people will accept them. The US Patent Office is full of products that were offered too early.

Revolutionaries drive their revolution "Now!". Thus, we hear claims that this is the most important election in our lifetimes. Yet, the next election finds things no different. Looking at history, there have been many times when the revolutionaries took up arms only to be defeated by the authorities and executed. In the vast majority of cases, revolutionaries have been wrong about the time to start the revolution.

While we can learn from revolutionaries, it is important to recognize where they miss the mark.

Risky Business

The current internet is so unsafe that it is estimated many hospital machines have been infected with viruses. Even closed circuit TV controller's have been taken over and used for doing harm to web sites.


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