Old Technologies, New Approaches
  • 28 Dec 2023
  • 2 Minutes to read
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Old Technologies, New Approaches

  • Dark

Article summary

Thank you to Geof Wollerman for sharing his blog in our knowledge base.

If the internet is like a once-classic sports car turned rusty jalopy, then it is also a jalopy we seem reluctant to trade in—either out of stubborn sentiment, or simply because it still runs.

It is no revelation that IT and the internet have become overly complex over the past 50+ years, leading in large part to the increasing costs and vulnerabilities associated with both. In short, in the world of technology, complexity happens, and complexity is costly.

At the same time, most of the solutions that claim to solve the various costs and problems which have built up around this complexity are only treating the symptoms, not curing the disease.

Most solutions only add costs and layers of complexity to the already messy IT stack that underpins the critical digital infrastructure of global commerce and our daily lives—a stack that has been adding various layers for more than 30 years.

One of the first integral layers added to the internet stack was the Domain Name System (DNS) in 1983, followed shortly after by the World Wide Web (WWW) in 1989.

To be clear, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with these two layers, these two foundational protocols—which expanded public access to and commercialized the internet, respectively—only that they were developed separately and remain separate to this day.

This separation has spawned many of the complexities, latencies, and vulnerabilities that now threaten the current and future state of IT.

So, as we look to solve many of IT’s and the internet’s problems, as we explore new approaches to an old technology, it is worth also looking at what got us here in the first place.

Namely, that the internet’s early innovators made choices which eventually led to problems these innovators understandably did not see coming at the time. While accelerating IT into the modern era, they also unknowingly ensured that today’s innovators would need to make much different choices.

As we hurtle into the future, as artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), and a swelling tidal wave of Big Data compound the acceleration of IT, our problems are only going to multiply.

Decades into the internet experiment, it may just be that only bold moves, hindsight, and humility will ensure that the next 50 years of interconnectedness bring greater innovations than the last.

Sometimes the best solutions to problems are not to fix them, but instead to walk away from them and to start with something new.

An old car needs more repairs the older it gets, replacement parts that become harder to find, and experienced mechanics who also get older and harder to find. At some point, it makes more sense to buy a new car.

Cars replaced horses. Telephones replaced telegraph wires. Computers replaced typewriters (among other things). Touch-tone phones replaced rotary phones. Mobile phones replaced landlines. And smart phones replaced many things, becoming perhaps the most powerful, single tool humans have ever invented—which we carry in our pockets.

Technologies change and improve all the time. So, when it comes to the internet, why are we still driving the same 30-year-old car?


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