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The topics discussed here grow out of the bread-and-butter issues that confront my consulting and software clients on a daily basis. We'll talk about prosaic stuff like Membership Management, Meetings and Events Management and Fundraising, broader ideas like security and software project management, and the social, cultural, and organizational issues that impact IT decision-making.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

More office cleanup reading...

Here’s another interesting article from back in Janaury I just read while sorting through the stacks of magazines in my office. From January's Technology Review: "The Internet is Broken." by David Talbot. You can find it online here.

Most of what we read about internet innovation these days focuses on "Web 2.0", on all the new interactive internet applications coming on-line. But this article talks about Internet 2.0 from the point of view of the network infrastructure itself, focusing on a massive multiyear National Science Foundation project to redesign the technology used for the net at its most fundamental level.

Why would we need to rethink the net at this level? Because the original internet protocols did not provide for a number of basic capabilities that are added-on as a patchwork of tools, utilities, and applications. We Internet users are so used to this situation that it seems like a natural state of affairs.

The prime example: security. While local area networks and the applications they support devote more and more energy to defending themselves against attack over the Internet, little is being done to make the Internet itself less permeable to malware.

Simply put, the Internet has no inherent security architecture -- nothing to stop viruses or spam or anything else. Protections like firewalls and antispam software are add-ons, security patches in a digital arms race.

Closely related to security is Identity Management. We're accustomed to establishing usernames, passwords, and password recovery rules with each site we use. In the new internet, identity management and authentication at the network level would replace the crazy-quilt of site-specific authentication.

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