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Livecasting and forecasting the Internet

May 19, 2008

by Mark Ollig

It seems every day a new way of communicating appears on the Internet which inevitably turns into the latest trend.

One of the newer Internet trends is a real-time social interaction called “livecasting.”

Another definition of lifecasting is “broadcasting each and every moment of your life on the internet.”

The first “livecaster” was said to be Steve Mann.

In 1994, Mann wore a bulky head-camera and started a continuous “real-time” video transmission of his daily activities – broadcasting them over his web site for all the world to see.

By continuous I mean he was transmitting twenty-four hours a day.

Here is Mann’s web site where you can see him wearing his famous camera head-gear, http://wearcam.org/steve.html.

On March 19, 2007, Justin Kan began a real-time “video blogging” of his day using a web camera and a microphone.

A little over four months later, on July 21, 2007, Justin Kan’s “Justin TV” web site went online.

Included in his web site were over 60 individual broadcaster channels, starting with the most popular on the top page. A directory of each channel in the Justin TV network shows which channels are livecasting and which are not.

Past livecasts are archived and available to view.

Today, there are thousands of live broadcasters on the Internet, ranging from students to retired folks spread out over a variety of hosting web sites like Justin TV.

Many are doing their livecasting broadcasts on the web site Justin Kan started. To view a livecast, visit http://www.justin.tv.

There are specialized livecasts also. These include gaming, news, sports, radio and television stations and some technology-related livecasts. Pets including cats, dogs and fish even have their own livecasts. I would like to point out viewer discretion needs to be observed on some of the broadcasts.

My readers can rest easy – this humble “bits_blogger” has no immediate plans for starting a 24-hour live broadcast of his endeavors.

In looking to the future trends of the Internet, let’s hear from one of its founders, Dr. Vinton G. Cerf.

Dr. Cerf, who is one of the original Internet pioneers, is known as the “Father of the Internet.”

From 1976 to 1982, Dr. Cerf played a key role in the Defense Department’s development of what became the Internet. He said it has been a “roller coaster ride” in terms of where the technology has gone since those early days.

Dr. Cerf, along with Robert Kahn, developed “TCP/IP” which is the fundamental transmission control and internet protocols which frame the basic architecture of the Internet.

TCP/IP supplies the “handshake” set-up between various computers and provides the means for them to “talk” and exchange information with each other over a network.

The work Dr. Cerf and Robert Kahn accomplished allows the Internet to exist as we know it today.

Dr. Cerf spoke before The US Senate Committee Hearing on Network Neutrality and said he was “ . . . fortunate to be involved in the earliest days of the ‘network of networks.”

Dr. Cerf recently attended a Technology Alliance annual luncheon and talked about the early days of the Internet and his thoughts about its future.

He also answered the question of whether or not the term “surfing the Internet” originated from his last name. “It did not,” was his response.

Dr. Cerf said he recently purchased two terabytes of hard drive storage for $600.

Here is some perspective in terms of how far the computer industry has come in the past 30 years.

Dr. Cerf calculated how much just one terabyte of disk memory would have cost back in 1979.

The number was a mind blowing $100 million.

And what will the Internet look like in 10 years?

In 10 years Dr. Cerf said there will be many more “mobile devices” connecting to the Internet – nearly 10 billion, by his estimates.

When he was asked what the Internet might look like in 2050, Dr. Cerf laughed and said, “Thinking about it makes me wish I were eight years old.”

Dr. Cerf did entertain some far into the future speculation and said, “Over a period of a hundred or a thousand years, the probability of maintaining continuity of the software to interpret the old stuff is probably close to zero. Where would you find a projector for an 8mm film these days? If the new software can’t understand, we’ve lost the information. I call this ‘bit rot’ [and] it’s a serious problem.”

Your humble and sometimes over-reacting columnist suggests we start adding 8mm projectors, VCR’s, typewriters, an assortment of computer models and any old electronic devices into all museums immediately.

Dr. Vinton Cerf now serves as a vice president and chief Internet “Evangelist” for Google.

You can watch and chat with the livecasters on Justin TV at http://www.justin.tv.

The remarks Dr. Cerf gave before the US Senate Committee hearing is available at http://commerce.senate.gov/pdf/cerf-020706.pdf.

Wikipedia has an excellent biography about Justin Kan and Justin TV. You can read at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justin.tv.