The greatest difficulties lie where we are not looking for them.
– JOHANN WOLFGANG GOETHE
lexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) is often referred to as the Father of Technical Communication. In fact he wanted to invent something that would specifically help the hard of hearing. Likewise, Vinton Cerf is widely regarded as one of the Fathers of the Internet, and coincidentally wears a hearing aid.
In the early-70s a graduate student, Cerf worked on a data packet networking group that was the predecessor of the Internet. After this his career just took off – doctorate, assistant professor where he conducted research on packet network interconnection protocols and co-designed a major protocol suite. His status simply grows and grows, vice-president of MCI Digital Information Services from 1982 to 1986…and so on, through to ‘vice-president and chief Internet evangelist for Google’ (as he is described on his own medium, the Net) in 2009. And I ask myself, How did he foresee the groundswell of change?
In fact he didn’t. When I interviewed him in 2004 he was more interested in the future possibilities of his research than on his historical accomplishments. And why not? Technology is booming and is a source of constant change.
Intel co-founder Gordon Moore stated in his 1965 paper, ‘Since the invention of the integrated circuit in 1958, the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit has increased exponentially, doubling approximately every two years’, commonly referred to as ‘Moore’s Law’.
Here are some other things to look at and consider when analyzing this ‘Ground Swell’: A surge of new communication tools; Wireless and landlines colliding; Social networks opening doors for some, scaring others creating confusion; clashes between early adopters and those who don’t care to adopt; Facebook, YouTube, Linked In, Twitter, Me.dium, Lijit, Brad Feld’s Blog (one of the top blogs in the world); Search engines, Wikipedia, and others fight for survival; Email and spam; new media such as w3w3tv.com; hand held wireless tools; the youth; Moore’s Law; and this is only the tip of the iceberg.
Christine Heckart, General Manager of Marketing, Connected TV Business, Microsoft Corporation said, “When the Internet rolls over an industry it will be fundamentally changed. As it has with the newspaper industry... so it will with television, the question is, how will that look and who will pay for it?"
There are volumes of books detailing the history and exploits of these and hundreds of others that have made a difference in the field of technology and communication. It is a constant ground swell of change.
Boy! The acknowledged Father of the Internet has sure spent a lot of his career time out of the lab - in committees usually as president, chairman or chief. The lesson to be learned here is the surprising mixture of creative and boardroom life.
Vinton Cerf is also the active public face of Google, which in itself indicates the future direction of discretion. There was a time when inventors weren’t celebrities, but now – fulfilling Andy Warhol’s ‘15 minutes of fame’ dictate – the spotlight is good for business. And,
Vinton Cerf never rests on his laurels, he continues to break new ground in a sector that (more than any other) is bursting at the seams with the word NEW.
The ever-changing Internet and social media is a continuing demonstration of this ground swell of change.