The problem with today's internet, according to (David) Clark, is that its 30-year-old design, which allowed for the development of exciting new applications (the world wide web, e-commerce, file sharing, you name it), is now stifling further growth.
More stories written by Mark Baard
The title isn't as daft as it first seems when you consider the statement made above. It is over 30years old and there are not many things in your home that you purchased 30 years ago and are still using today. Not only using today, but playing an ever increasing part in your life. Ok, I have 'things' in my home that over 30 years old (me for instance), but how many electrical goods in your house are over 30 years?.
When 'the net' was first introduced 'en-masse' to the public, taking email as a an example, there was no need for security, anti-virus or any other type of protection. If you sent an email to someone, you most likely knew that person. No one envisaged that a little while later on, the mail network would be clogged with SPAM. There was never any thought of someone sending a spoof email (for spoof, read phishing as well) and viruses didn't exist. At that point in time it was seen a direct replacement for writing a letter, or making a phone call. You would never have written a letter to a friend saying, "please find enclosed the I Love You Virus". "All your pens and paper will no longer function after reading this letter".
You might have phoned someone up and said, "Hey, B&Q/Home Depot have a great deal on X&Y at the moment", but you would never have sat down and phoned every person in the phone book from cover to cover.
(I wonder if the upsurge in telemarketing jumped as a result of the internet usuage? I don't remember getting as many 'cold call' telephone calls when I was younger, apart from the odd kitchen salesman. And I certainly never got any phone calls asking me if I wanted a pill for a bigger penis!!).
No one envisaged that the internet would be abused by so many. In fact so much of the trafic is either porn, spam, hacking, viruses, trojans etc etc that this is the main reason why the internet is so slow. (If you think it is fast, just imagine how much faster it would be if we took the 90% of trash traffic off the network).
With a few simple changes we could elminated SPAM for good? (Can we really do this? I think not)
For example: By making all porn sites use the new .xxx TLD we could set filters up that would block ALL porn sites. (But this has to be a global law/ruling and is hard to prevent by design).
The main benefit of a new design would be as mentioned in the article where they say it opens the possibility of new methods to use the internet. Unfortunately, unless we plan for all the future misuse of the internet, some of these new tools will just become new platforms for 'abusing' the users of it.
I like to think back to the early 90's when the idea of charging people per/byte or kilobyte of data they sent or downloaded. (I don't think megabyte was even considered back then. You had to be a company to use that much data. Most of the UK was probably on 9600Baud dial-up back then.
Could you imagine being charged for downloading a couple of megabytes of SPAM? Or that link that you innocently clicked on thinking it was a new item on a respected and well read news site opened up a webpage that downloaded a huge presentation to you.
These days they might be charging you for gigabytes of data used (bandwidth), but the point would still be getting charged for something you didn't want in the first place.
Do you think they would have listened back then and started thinking of ways of blocking unwanted traffic?
How many lawsuits would have raged about being charged for services you didn't request?
I can bet the big companies forsaw the possible problems with charging for bandwidth and added the freedom of speach factor in as well and thought it was best left alone.
Not to mention that for example in China, you can rent a SPAMMING machine for $10000 to $20000 a month, no questions asked. They never respond to abuse complaints, they won't throw you off for sending out zillions of emails. They'll happily take your money and let you work your nasty deeds.
The problem with SPAM is us the end user. When a company rents space on a TV Station for a dedicated break during a show, the number of people who will see it is a known amount (within reason). That is to say that there is effectively a known maximum amount of people who will see that advert. From that known amount they reckon on a certain percentage actually picking up the phone or walking to the store to make a purchase on the back of that advert.
Now consider the same advert but sent via the internet. I am no longer constrained to a regional advert, or a national advert, it becomes instantly global. Ok, there are companies like Nike for example who have a global presence and can have global advertising campaigns. But when was the last time you saw a global advertising campaign for a penis/breast enlarging cream for $99 etc etc. Any person no matter what size of company can now reach a mass audience for very little cost.
If say in our TV campaign we had a 0.001% follow up in orders on say a show with 8 million viewers, that is a potential of 8,000 people following up. (It won't probably be as large as 0.001%, even though that sounds like a very small percentage, it isn't. Not when you factor in those who skip the adverts to make a cuppa, those who channel hop, those who just plain don't watch, etc etc. For the purpose of this post, let us just assume 0.001% to make all the figures work. It doesn't really matter what value we use, because you can increase/decrease the figure depending on what the item you are selling is, time of day, etc etc. It is just there to make a point, as are the subsequent uses of it)
Now lets send an email to every computer address on the planet, say about 580,000,000 (see here). With the same level of following up on the email, that would a 580,000 people who would follow up. Ok, lets say that even less people would follow up and assume 0.00001%, that is still 5800 people who will go on to purchase that miracle breast/penis enhancing cream, that will most like end up to be nothing more than vaseline dyed white !. And if I was to market the cream for a fee of $99, I would make a potential income of $57,420,000- $574,200
Ok, if it was that easy to make $57,000,000 or $574,000, everyone would be doing it. Looking at my SPAM filter results for last month, it appears that everyone IS trying to do it. But even if a 1000 people from 584,000,000 ordered something from me at $99, that is still $99,000.
All the time any number of us purchase something as a result of SPAM, they will persist to send it. So no matter what controls are put in place, what ever future designs are made, there are those that will find a way to exploit the network to get their message across. It is far too cost effective for them not to try. So in the long term the only way that we can get rid of it is to stop buying those things in the first place. But you and I both know that will never happen. (For example, while reading this, assuming you made it this far, another 30 mugs have been born, again assuming you took 30minutes to read this far)
Even if we suddenly found a way to kill all SPAM for example, they will find another way. Viral Email campaigns are on the increase and some of the big market leaders are at it already and have been for a long time.
Now at the risk of getting my butt sued off, I am going to use the example of the Ford KA adverts featuring the Evil Twin. They were never officially released by Ford for showing on TV, but found their way onto the net. Soon everyone who received it was forwarding it on to everyone in their address book. Before too long, everyone has a copy anyway. There was no need for Ford to use some dodgy open mail relay in Brazil, or pay some Chinese spam provider. All they had to do was email a few select people and their work would be done for them in a matter of days. Welcome to the art of Viral Emailing, or Social Engineering. Call it what you like. They will find a way round anything we put in place and again it is down to the end user, you and me to be responsible for stopping the SPAM.
I don't believe the 'Urban Myth' that Ford did actually place those adverts out there in an attempt to perform a viral email campaign, but it does go to show the power of such methods.
Perhaps I should change the title to "We Need a New Internet User"
Posted by Chris Wright at July 3, 2005 12:48 AM
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