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The Six Webs, 10 Years On

09/29/2005 10:30 AM Kresge
Bill Joy, Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers; Former Chief Scientist, Sun Microsystems

Description: It's a good thing that a decade ago, some engineers at Sun Microsystems became dissatisfied with the limitations of the desktop PC and with kludgy TV remote controls. Their frustrations, according to Bill Joy, led to technology breakthroughs we count on today and will likely in years to come. Joy and his colleagues grasped early on the impact the Internet would have on both computing and entertainment. Back in the 90s, they decided to play out how technologies imbedded in daily life would evolve under the influence of the internet. They envisioned the "far" web, as defined by the typical TV viewer experience; the "near" web, or desktop computing; the "here" web, or mobile devices with personal information one carried all the time; the "weird" web, characterized by voice recognition systems; the "B2B" web of business computers dealing exclusively with each other; and the "D2D" web, of intelligent buildings and cities. (Sun's programming language Java was a deliberate attempt at a platform for all six webs.)

Joy sees the six webs as a great organizing principle for understanding how the internet will continue to change. He believes the "here" web will figure most prominently in our lives, with its "nomadic idea that instead of being tethered to an office, we carry around things of most interest to us." He notes the increasing "cleavage between entertainment authored for the 'here' and 'far' webs." The latter is dominated by such corporate interests as game companies intent on copy protection and rights management, while the "more anarchic world" of the internet leads to more interesting content, such as personal publishing, housed best on the "here" web. Says Joy, "Doing things with people you know through a small screen makes enormous sense."

About the Speaker(s): Bill Joy led Sun's technical strategy from the founding of the company in 1982 until September 2003. While at Sun, he was a key designer of Sun technologies including Solaris, SPARC, chip architectures and pipelines, and Java. In 1995 he installed the first city-wide WiFi network. Joy has more than 40 patents issued or in progress. Before co-founding Sun, Joy designed and wrote Berkeley UNIX - the first open source operating system with built-in TCP/IP, making it the backbone of the Internet. Fortune magazine dubbed him the "Edison of the Internet." Joy has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan, an M.S. in Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Ph.D. in Engineering, honoris causa, from the University of Michigan. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is a trustee of the Aspen Institute.

Host(s): Office of the Provost, Technology Review

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MIT World — special events and lectures

MIT World — special events and lectures

Category: Events | Updated over 2 years ago

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