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Internet's Dead, Not the Web

(George Gilder addresses Wired's September cover story, "The Web is Dead", by Chris Anderson and Michael Wolf.)

May I be so bold as to contradict my old friends at Wired? I would suggest that they have the picture wildly upside down. What is dying is not the Web but television and the Internet. The onrush of video bits as a share of traffic is irrelevant to the prospects of the web, which is measured not by bulk traffic but by information entropy: by impressions, transactions, and servers. The video flood, however, is deadly to the Internet with its ungainly TCP aks-naks, buffers and security patches, multi-layered latency and dropped links. It is the Internet that must die as a result of the dominance of video traffic.

Video will kill the cumbrous, porous seven layer Internet model just as the rise of voice killed the old best efforts, asynchronous, non-deterministic telegraph network. As my friend Henry Gau ingeniously explains, the rise of voice communications with their needs for deterministic synchrony required a new Bell infrastructure to replace the old Western Union tap-tap. Similarly video's needs for deterministic synchronous delivery precisely parallel the previous demands of voice streams when they became the prevailing form of traffic early in the last century with the rise of telephony.

Who will build this network remains in question but the floods of video all the way down from the server through the living room to the desktop to the handset cannot be handled by some Microsoft, Symantec, or Cisco patch on the old Internet.

As for Google, its goofier-than-Gore postures against life giving CO2 and
bizarre drive for a network neutrality litigation carnival in Washington
make it easy to make fun of. But contrary to all Wolff and Anderson's
disparagement of the company and its allegedly obsolescent open Web model,
Google is becoming more central than ever to the new era and is
emphatically on the right side in the wars over the future of the
Internet.

While Wired touts the end of the Web, Google is unleashing a program to
mash all TV and other video onto the Web. It is producing ingenious
end-of-TV software that transforms any Android or iPhone into a Web
browser remote control for capacious big screens or even uses the Android
or iPhone screens themselves (and soon their onboard projectors). Its new
Native Client software, already manifest in its Chrome browser and coming
OS, trumps Apple's Objective C language (Jobs' mandatory apps legacy from
his old NeXt machine), that Wired trumpets a super now force on wireless
phones. Thus Google promises to fulfill at last my Life After Television
dream of a teleputer in every pocket (or bioslot), with access not to a
hundred channels but to a 100 million interactive sites on any display.

At the same time, Facebook, a Website with no significant new technology,
does not "control" the future as Wired imagines. Like AOL, MySpace, and
Twitter, it will have its day in the sun before falling into the gap
between a social playground and a commercial hustle.

The death of the Web? Apple uber alles? Giant monopolies closing off the
world in a cutesy Farmville cartoon garden? That's Weirdsville.

The flood of video will indeed require a simpler, synchronous, secure and
deterministic replacement for the current Internet. But the Web will
thrive for decades to come and if Google can break away from its silly
medieval green politics, it may well lead the Web's victory parade.

You can email brucechapman@discovery.org

2 Comments

One has to wonder if the fallout of the Verizon-iPhone deal includes a slowing down of Android's momentum.

exquisite article! Thanks :-)

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