If you still believe that governmental bodies will be the drivers of societal and infrastructural change, your perception might not be up to date. In the past, several organizations such as local governments or supra-national bodies such as the UN have been seen as responsible to intervene in global issues. However businesses are nowadays proving to be entities driving important societal and infrastructural changes, both at a local and international level. Businesses are increasingly “fixing” institutional voids in emerging economies where public bodies have not tackled these problems efficiently. An example of this would be Facebook’s initiative to make world-wide internet access available.
Through its initiative Internet.org, the idea is to enable collaboration within the tech industry through partnership focused on challenging the great barriers developing countries face in terms of internet access, which Zuckerberg himself has outlined as a human right. Their offering pursues to make this access a 100 times more affordable, through a twofold strategy: reducing both the cost and the amount of data, two pillars in which Facebook believes it is able to successfully perform. Moreover, the task will not be addressed by Facebook alone; by collaborating with important players in today’s tech industry, the Internet.org partnership aids to get the best knowledge for the task possible. Additional partners participating in the initiative include Sony-Ericsson, Samsung, MediaTek, Qualcomm, Samsung and Eutelsat.
Whether Facebook’s intentions are altruistic, or it merely aims to give 5 billion people access to its internet jewel, the end result is the same. While in the first world we constantly praise the wonders and progress brought about by the internet, the truth is that two thirds of the world are still not connected to it. As our economic focus switches from resource-based to knowledge-based, the internet provides the backbone allowing global sharing of ideas and information. And the simple truth is that no public body is as able as one of today’s tech giants to tackle this issue. Facebook has the tools, the means, and more importantly the knowledge necessary to undertake this task. Earlier this month, for instance, Zuckerberg stated that for the past year, Facbeook has been looking into aircrafts and satellite technology to develop solutions which would enable “beaming access down to communities from the sky”. In addition, 100 million users (mostly in developing countries) already benefit from its “Facebook Zero: Facebook for every phone” initiative. If this is its reach independently, what they will be able to achieve through a partnership surely looks promising.
It seems that the new heroes of today’s societies may not be in the public, but in the private sector. In an era where knowledge and information sharing are drivers of economic growth, Facebook and other partners in the Internet.org initiative have certainly undertaken a highly relevant yet challenging task. Will they succeed in switching the two offline thirds of the world online?
(Representation of Global Internet usage: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Internet_usage)
Finley, K 2015, Facebook looks to space to bring the internet everywhere, Wired, 05 October, viewed 6 October 2015, <http://www.wired.com/2015/10/facebook-looks-space-bring-internet-everywhere/>.
Internet.org by facebook n.d., Internet.org, viewed 6 October 2015, <https://internet.org/>.
Russel, J 2015, Facebook and telecom partners launch Internet.org to drive universal, global internet access, The Next Web News, 21 August, viewed 6 October 2015, <http://thenextweb.com/facebook/2013/08/21/facebook-and-telecom-partners-launch-internet-org-to-drive-universal-global-internet-access/>.
Ever wonder why seemingly simple web pages take long to load? Chances are it’s not the content that is weighing you down, but third party trackers. These parties track your movement over several websites, analyzing your behavior and record your browsing habits.
To put things into perspective the following example from a Guardian article provides some figures. In loading the popular tech site ‘The Verge,’ the actual content only ran 8k, whereas the surrounding ads ran to 6MB. During a second study, it was discovered that almost an order of magnitude more data is needed for the trackers than the article itself. A more recent study explained this ‘weight’ in a measure more familiar to the everyday user; seconds. By turning off third party scripts, the homepage loaded within 2 seconds, down from 11 seconds.
We can therefore conclude that third party trackers take up more data (and thus more time) not only during the launch of a page, but throughout the entire duration of our browsing. These are two luxuries few of us can afford on our mobile contracts nor during our busy lives. An additional consequence for portable devices is less battery.
But fear not, solutions are available, with my personal favorite being Ghostery! This extension for your browser identifies which services are trying to track you and then gives you the option to block them. When first installing the extension the following categories are given; Advertising, Analytics, Beacons, category_iso, privacy and widgets. Given you full control of where you would like to make exceptions.
I like the newly found control I was previously unaware of. Since installing I can say I have observed a slight increase in speed. However, I do enjoy it when I load specific websites that a customized experience is opened for my profile, for example making my purchase recommendations better or my preferred settings more familiar. This customization is reduced if not lost when disabling all the trackers, therefore in the future I might consider allowing certain websites to use third party trackers for my own benefit.
Remember; “if you’re not paying for something, you’re not the customer, but the product!”
-Is this something you would install?
-What are some additional trade-offs of these services?
-If adopted on a grand scale could these extensions create problems?
As the internet is expanding rapidly and new households are being connected to the internet on a daily basis, the demand for new technologies to facilitate this rapid expansion is growing as well. The old architecture of the internet had several drawbacks such as IPv4. However, we have come a long way and practically every place has wireless internet (Wi-Fi). The advantages of Wi-Fi over cable networks are obvious and are the catalyst for the surge in mainstream adoption of wireless technology worldwide. For example, Taipei is currently implementing a free public Wi-Fi network for the city.
China is a rapid rising economy at the moment and, as a result, its huge amount of citizens are moving to urban settings in a fast pace. These demographic changes put a huge amount of stress on governments, both national and local, to facilitate this transformation adequately. Although a large part of China is already making use of the internet, it still is very limited in terms of amount of connections in smaller cities and internet speed. Moreover, let’s not forget the great firewall of China blocking a large amount of content on the internet to Chinese society. Nevertheless, scientists at China’s Fudan University have managed to create a futuristic solution: internet emitting light bulbs.
This technology, dubbed Li-Fi, can at the moment provide 4 computers per bulb internet at speeds of 150 mbps which is much higher than the average broadband connection in China. As you can see, this new technology might provide China and other countries new ways for internet adoption. Moreover, it could provide companies huge investment costs of large internet servers and router networks within the firm; rather, it could replace all the light bulbs with Li-Fi ones as light is essential within society.
To me, these are interesting developments and could lead to a more worldwide adoption of the internet, creating an even more connected world. Also, imagine the possibilities of this techology such as Li-Fi streetlighting. Can you think of other usefull solutions?
The last days of IPv4
When the internet was originally designed in 1970, their founders seemed that is would be highly unlikely that the IP address space would become an issue overtime. Because with the current IP address scheme (also known as IPv4) it is possible to allocate almost 4.3 billion IP addresses. Which seemed to be more than enough space at that time. But despite this incredible number they could not have overseen the massive growth of the internet in the late 90s. During the last decade the number of Internet users has grown even more (see image below).
To anticipate on these space issues of IPv4, the IPv6 scheme was introduced in 1996 by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). IPv6 will be able to hold an impressive amount of: 340,282,366,920,938,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 unique IP addresses. However, IPv4 is still operational and used to facilitate the internet today. Actually the last block of IPv4 addresses space has been allocated in February 2011.
Transition from IPv4 to IPv6
This year an actual transition has been set in motion to migrate the internet protocol from IPv4 to IPv6. But the problem is that over the years the internet has become quite complex, and it is challenging to coordinate such a migration as it involves governments, enterprises, manufacturers, internet service providers (ISPs) and even individuals. It will require a collaborative effort from many users. To encourage this, an initiative was launched on June 6th which announced the beginning of the official transition of internet to IPv6: http://www.worldipv6launch.org/. However, the actual transition will probably take several years, because many governments and enterprises are still hesitant to invest in their network infrastructure to make it IPv6 compatible. China and other connected Asian countries, have heavily invested in IPv6 deployment, and European companies transacting with Chinese businesses in that region will probably need to head the line of IPv6 transition in this country.
The future is IPv6
At any rate, the transition from Ipv4 to IPv6 is essential for the growth of the internet. If the transition does not happen in the near future, newly produced internet devices which will not be able to connect to the internet because of the lack of available IPv4 addresses. On the other hand, when this transition has been completed, techniques like NAT (Network Address Translation) would become obsolete. Also, smart phones, digital cameras, cars, refrigerators, microwaves, TVs, and many more devices will be able to seamlessly communicate which each other in the future.