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Where in the internet heading these days?
December 28, 2012 1:05 PM   Subscribe

Where is the internet heading? What are the issues we are facing with the internet and issues that will arise in the future? What do internet based companies need to worry about and prepare for? Looking for answers as well as places to read and learn about these sort of issues.

For example: SOPA and PIPA bills. Online fraud (oh my, this on its own is a huge topic, I realize). Etc?

Looking for examples of new issues in the internet world that are currently happening, or that will become an issue in the future. Things that online companies need to think about / worry about, etc. Or even things that consumers need to worry about. Examples of what the internet may bring in the future.

Also looking for places to read up about this stuff online.

I know this is sort of open ended, but hopefully you guys can give me some more concrete examples, as I'm having trouble phrasing my questions.
posted by carmel to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
I wonder about the scalability of storage. For instance, 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Think about that. That's a ton of storage, and just for one website (albeit a ridiculously big/influential one). That number will likely go up, too. And when you factor in all of the other things - every video, photo, blog, tweet, status update - that are being created online and stored somewhere, ostensibly forever ... my non-scientific brain doesn't understand how the world will have enough room for the hard drives it will take.
posted by jbickers at 1:22 PM on December 28, 2012


Start here.
posted by empath at 1:22 PM on December 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


IPv6 is the urgent one. But the need was recognized a long time ago, and the transition is happening now.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 1:37 PM on December 28, 2012


It seems to me, personally, that the biggest issue is what's going to happen on the "cyber war" front. The Stuxnet attack carried out by the U.S. and Israel against Iran seems like a major turning point that we haven't yet seen the ramifications of.

If we had physically destroyed the same uranium enrichment facility by bombing, even if no one had been killed, it would unambiguously have been an act of war. But so far we seem to have gotten away with Iran not reacting as though an act of war was carried out against it.

The thing is that most military computer systems and networks have really crappy security, much less commercial systems or infrastructure like power plants or hospitals where even things like automated medication pumps are controlled remotely by computer. So if one nation were to lay the groundwork for and launch an all-out cyber war it could majorly disrupt all levels of society and with global interconnectedness between societies and economies "collateral damage" could spread with no respect for borders. As Stuxnet was a very sophisticated and high-caliber weapon, as it were, its deployment may have kicked off something like an arms race; while at the same time the expectation has been created that a country can get away with an attack like that without any real-world geopolitical consequences—yet.

So I would expect that because most consumers, companies, and other organizations aren't really conscious of how dependent they are on the internet and on internal computer systems, either dealing with attacks or trying to prepare for them will continue to become a bigger and more involved activity for everyone.

Just one of many potential trends, though.
posted by XMLicious at 1:38 PM on December 28, 2012


The recent ITU meetings. And what happened. Explore this further.
posted by infini at 1:41 PM on December 28, 2012


IPv6 is the urgent one. But the need was recognized a long time ago, and the transition is happening now.

I plan and maintain infrastructure for a company whose product relies on the internet. Some of my biggest concerns are about stable bandwidth, scalability across the globe, redundancy, backups, latency, bad NAT implementations, security compliance and auditing, etc.,

IPv6 is actually a weird one. I've tried to learn all I can about it, and I've been trying to plan for using it for a few years now, but the infrastructure just isn't in place yet. When one level is missing (like some silly IIS settings) it doesn't matter if everything else is in place, since I can't take advantage of it. I continually feel like this is going to eventually sneak up on everybody, and we're going to have a weird few years where shit just doesn't work as nicely as it does now. It's insane how little vendors know about IPv4, I'm really disturbed by IPv6.
posted by odinsdream at 1:51 PM on December 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Governments are turning into big brother because for the first time it is technically possible for them to do so.

imo the biggest social issue on the internet is the question of identity and anonymity.

How is identity going to be managed?

Will it still be possible for someone to be anonymous on the internet twenty years from now?
posted by w.fugawe at 2:49 PM on December 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Following on from w.fugawe's excellent point about identity and anonymity, a big issue is the increasingly-closed nature of the web, as part of the second wave of walled gardens. Facebook is especially obvious, but locked-down device ecosystems are part of it too. They are more convenient for users, but as a result we seem to be in danger of losing the open web, where new sites were free to compete with each other for browsers' attention, for a web where increasing numbers of users never leave certain sites and where it becomes increasingly hard not to leave a trail via single sign-ons.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 2:56 PM on December 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


IPv6 is actually a weird one. I've tried to learn all I can about it, and I've been trying to plan for using it for a few years now, but the infrastructure just isn't in place yet. When one level is missing (like some silly IIS settings) it doesn't matter if everything else is in place, since I can't take advantage of it. I continually feel like this is going to eventually sneak up on everybody, and we're going to have a weird few years where shit just doesn't work as nicely as it does now. It's insane how little vendors know about IPv4, I'm really disturbed by IPv6.

I agree. This is going to be like the y2k bug, except with no deadline. How many places in software and on various network infrastructure are things like 32 bit IP addresses hard-coded in? I similarly suspect there will be a protracted period where there will be things like 6to4 NAT kinds of gateways between the internet at large and internal networks. I suspect the internet itself will switch fairly quickly as the ISPs buy new equipment that has ipv6 built in, but enterprises and home users will have no use for it.

There is also the weird reluctance of many system administrators toward ipv6. NAT works fine, they say, and anyway, how will I be able to remember that the app server is f2ed:2342:ea32:abcd when it used to be 10.34.22.112? Or the guys that have their LANs carved up into /28 subnets and oodles of VLANS just because they can and it makes them feel important.
posted by gjc at 2:59 PM on December 28, 2012


imo the biggest social issue on the internet is the question of identity and anonymity.

How is identity going to be managed?

Will it still be possible for someone to be anonymous on the internet twenty years from now?


I think this is the difference between perception of anonymity and actual anonymity. The internet seemed anonymous because nobody cared.
posted by gjc at 3:03 PM on December 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, where to start? Recognizing that I'm repeating (but hopefully elaborating on) some points already made above: As for resources to read more, I'd recommend Ars Technica, which covers a lot of these issues; Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society; Stanford's Center for Internet & Society; and the Center for Democracy & Technology.
posted by maxim0512 at 4:44 PM on December 28, 2012


Governments will try to regulate the internet more. The result will be:

- increased acceptance of bitcoins or a similar currency.
- Darknets will become more common
- Alternative, non-government, DNS solutions
posted by yoyo_nyc at 5:18 PM on December 28, 2012


One problem with the current set of Cloud services is that there are not many that are set up to work or be trusted for the lifetime over which we may wish to make use of them (and the longer period over which others may wish to access the data). We need protocols for dealing with medical records, photos, personal and work correspondence, social media content and so on. The challenges here are not so much technical as they are legal and ethical. To work effectively any legislation would need to be international.
posted by rongorongo at 5:41 AM on December 29, 2012


big data. (wiki)

If we had physically destroyed the same uranium enrichment facility by bombing, even if no one had been killed, it would unambiguously have been an act of war. But so far we seem to have gotten away with Iran not reacting as though an act of war was carried out against it.

One can work through cut-offs. Country A ssh's into a box in Country B and uses it to attack Country C.
posted by sebastienbailard at 6:26 AM on December 29, 2012


In addition to nthing what everyone else has said above, I'd throw in these two challenges relating to the internet/Web/digital infrastructure:

Digital preservation: (a companion to Big Data and the Cloud) So much of our worldwide business, social activities, etc. is conducted electronically and collected/stored/monetized by corporate entities, how do we ensure that this content and the record of these transactions/interactions remains accessible into the future? The wikipedia article has some good links to start with and an excellent investigation of the topic viz. our motion picture heritage can be found here.

Internet research: As more scholars start to use people's online content and interactions as primary sources for researce issues of human subject ethics will inevitably crop up, many of which pertain to privacy and identity, including anonymity and pseudoanonymity.
posted by skye.dancer at 12:22 PM on December 29, 2012


One can work through cut-offs. Country A ssh's into a box in Country B and uses it to attack Country C.

Have you read about stuxnet, the attack I was referring to? The targeted computers weren't connected to the internet and in some cases weren't connected to any networks at all.

Connecting via one indirect hop would have been super-sophisticated hacking in 1989 in The Cuckoo's Egg days but the state of the art is well beyond that now even for the average person working alone, much less nation-states.

The computer forensics that are used for analysis in the aftermath are more sophisticated as well: stuxnet wasn't connected to its creators by investigators simply cross-referencing log entries.
posted by XMLicious at 1:06 PM on December 29, 2012


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