I just finished up a comment to Matthew Russell’s recent “Coming Soon: Gecko-driven Google Office (and Operating System)?” post, a post which has proven to be quite popular. It’s an excellent, thought provoking piece of which I would encourage you to read if you haven’t already, including a lot of great comments that follow from a lot of folks that bring out a lot of important points. (yes, a lot of the comments are mine, but they stem from the comments of others of which in and of themselves were fantastic, thought provoking comments…)
I’ve decided to pull my last comment out and republish it as its own post because I believe the overall theme/topic that it covers (Net-Neutrality) is of MAJOR significance. If you have a few minutes to read this, I ask that you would.
NOTE: My comments extend from a previous comment to the same post, and as such starts off,
In other words, we’re just installing the hard drive into our new machine… Let’s perfect the concept of reading and writing from and to it respectively before we concern ourselves too much with building applications that use this new read/write capability.
That makes about as much sense as … nothing, I guess, as it doesn’t make any sense what-so-ever.
Let me see if I can rephrase this into something that,
a) is a little less embarrassingly lame
b) makes a LOT more sense…
rephrase: The web makes a fantastic medium for publishing content. As of late there has been a surge to go from what was basically a read-only medium (the hard-drive comparison above) to a read-write medium (the lame attempt at an analogy of some sort, again, from above.) A side effect of this has been the attempt to flip-the-(read)r-bit to (read-write)rw on this same (medium)hard-drive, but to run our applications from this same medium as well.
The problem with this is simple,
By pushing more cost-intensive processes onto the server-stack, the server must either,
a) increase its processing power
b) piss off the users of the service it provides, most of which will never return.
On the flip-side we have all of these machines with gigahertz of processing power, most of which is 4-5 times as much as we all had less than five years ago, and anywhere between 500megs-2gigs+ of RAM, again, 4-5 times as much as we had in the same mentioned time frame.
With the above paragraph in mind, why are we not focused on building applications that are user-hosted-centric instead of server-hosted-centric?
If we think of the WorldWideWeb as a REALLY BIG read/write hard drive, in which contains data in which we can render/process locally, we both take advantage of all of the processing power that each of our machines have while spreading out the processing cost/load over a greater surface area.
The result is a faster, more efficient read-write web, of which we all gain,
a) a faster, more reliable “hard-drive”.
b) the ability to communicate more efficiently because of this faster hard-drive.
c) lower overall cost for faster (over-the-wire) Internet service, as well as the services provided on the web due to the fact that the service providers are not required to invest HUGE amounts of hard currency to increase hardware capacity to keep up with the rising usage of their services.
c:1) the obvious side effect of using more local processing power is the demand for faster machines will increase instead of decrease, and as such the cost of this processing power will decrease due to standard supply chain rules in which have proven that demand increases the supply which decreases the cost due to an increase in competitive forces supplying the demand.
This all may seem a bit over-the-top, but when you consider that history has proven that when you spread the burden-of-cost across a broader surface area (this can relate to both currency, and over-the-wire/processing cost, etc…) the result is a stronger overall economy which relies less on importing necessary supplies (read: centralized server processing power in which we draw resources from with each request, importing the results to our local supply chain) for survival, and more on what the local-economy (read: our own (local) machines and the power contained within) has to offer.
Wars have and continue to be fought over the import of both raw material and manufactured product. If we spend the time now to build the ability to produce the products we rely on for day-to-day survival, or at very least produce the processing plants that process the imported raw materials, we will be doing more than just ourselves a favor, but our children, and our children’s children, and so forth as well.
Control over the Internet is a hot-topic of debate at the moment. In fact Tim Berners-Lee recently blogged about the importance of Net-Neutrality (see: http://dig.csail.mit.edu/breadcrumbs/blog/4); why it was important for him when he developed HTTP and HTML, and why it continues to be important to this very day.
Instead of taking fifteen more years to catch-up with TBL’s vision of the web, why don’t we instead listen to what he has to say now, so we don’t have to try to fix all of the mistakes later.
Of course the Internet didn’t start with TBL, he simply put all of the existing pieces together that had been developed over the previous 20-40 years (leaving room for the fact that before the first lines were connected back in the early 70’s LOTS of other things needed to happen first to make those connections possible), resulting in what he termed the World Wide Web.
But TBL does know a thing or two about how to build and extend from the previous work of others, and as such it seems that placing a bit of trust in his understanding is a pretty smart thing to do.
So once again, as Tim recently points out, Net neutrality is of significant importance. One way to ensure that the net moves forward in a neutralized state is to neutralize the need for resources by using decentralized, local suppliers instead of importing from centralized sources. Its been proven time and time again that when centralized control is given to a handful of suppliers, the result is never a good thing as those who are once in power want to stay in power, and will do whatever it takes to do just that…
Stay in power by maintaining control of resources…
If we give up control of the Internet by centralizing the suppliers of the things we desire, the exact same thing is going to happen as it always has.
To extend from a comment made by Senator Sununu (January 25th, 2006) in a recent Senate Commerce Committee hearing on the Broadcast Flag and Audio Flag:
“The suggestion is that if we don’t do this, it will stifle creativity. Well…we have now an unprecedented wave of creativity and product and content development…new business models, and new methodologies for distributing this content. The history of government mandates is that it always restricts innovation…why would we think that this one special time, we’re going to impose a statutory government mandate on technology, and it will actually encourage innovation?”
If we place focus on the centralization of control by both building and encouraging the use of centralized applications, how is this time around (giving power to centralized sources) going to be any different?