|Internet Zero: Interdevice Internetworking |
You've heard of the plain old kick-around Internet, of course, and Internet2, as well. Internet2 is still doing its thing, primarily educational-research backbones and large-scale computer gridding, while the folks running the Next Generation Internet (NGI) projects have declared that they've completed their mission.
I must have blinked during that one, or been in the wrong time zone, thus asleep at the time. From their ngi.gov web site:
"The Next Generation Internet (NGI) Program has been successfully completed and the Federal agencies are currently coordinating advanced networking research programs under the Large Scale Networking (LSN) Coordinating Group. Please see the LSN Website at itrd.gov "
Getting back to Internet Zero, or Internet-0, also showing up in periodicals alternatively as I0 (which I read as "I-Zet), what exactly is it?
The October 2004 issue of Scientific American Magazine** has done a full-length feature article on I0 that I found very interesting, intriguing and in a way a refresher of what Internetworking is all about from another perspective. As a New York consultant accustomed to the fast pace of daily business and life in general, this article was like a relaxing walk through a park in some backwoods location in Vermont during a change of leaves. Written by Neil Gershenfeld, Raffi Krikorian and Danny Cohen, I0 is described as an architecture that defines the protocols and internetworking relationships of everyday objects found in the home and the business place. From the article, I'll type-copy the sidebar titled:
-- Giving everyday objects the ability to connect to a data network would have a range of benefits: making it easier for homeowners to configure their lights and switches, reducing the cost of complexity of building construction, assisting with home health care. Many alternative standards currently compete to do just that - a situation reminiscent of the early days of the Internet, when computers and networks came in multiple incompatibly types.
-- To eliminate this technological Tower of Babel, the data protocol that is at the heart of the Internet can be adopted to represent information in whatever form it takes: pulsed eclectically, flashed optically, clicked acoustically, broadcast electromagnetically or printed mechanically.
-- Using this Internet-0 encoding, the original idea of linking computer networks into a seamless whole – the Inter” in “Internet” can be extended to networks of all types of devices, a concept know as interdevice internetworking.
One passage that I thought was blatantly obvious, yet refreshingly instructive to see put this way, stated, in their seventh of what they refer to as “The Sevenfold Way” to I0:
“The seventh and final attribute of I0 is the use of open standards. The desirability of open standards should not need saying, but it does. Many of the competing standards for connecting devices are proprietary. The recurring lesson of the computer industry has been that proprietary businesses should be built on top of, rather than in conflict with, open standards.”
How many times a day can you use that argument to make your case? I can think of more than a few. Another discussion that was equally awakening was the slow speeds being factored into I0s design, citing slow bits - and bit sizes larger than network sizes - running over various forms of media as opposed to the fast bits used over optical networks by Internet1 and 2. The authors made good use of comparing binary digital ascii format to Morse code in order to amplify these points, although I0 does in fact employ bits and not dots and dashes, per se.
** I read this article in the hard copy version of Scientific American that probably won't appear on its Web site for at least another month, if ever for non-subscribers. In this respect SciAm.com is, IMO, rather mysterious as to what they will or won’t show gratis. A couple of sites to explore for further reading were provided by the authors:
“How the Internet Came to Be,” by Vint Cerf in “The Online User’s Encyclopedia,” available at: internetvalley.com
“When Things Start to Think,” by Neil Gershenfeld [Henry Holt, 1999]
Other publications are available at cba.mit.edu
I commend highly a visit to the MIT site (url immediately above) for anyone interested in this subject.