BYTES BECOME BITS
This link introduces you to technical vocabulary, especially computer-oriented vocabulary, and the future of business communication. We will start with some acronyms and some vocabulary about the Internet. We all use these terms, but often they have little or no meaning. Let's take what you look at in the scroll bar of Netscape:
- Connect: Waiting for Reply (in the bottom scroll bar)
- "Http" means the Hypertext Transfer Protocol. Protocol means the structure of the Uniform Resource Locator. You are allowed through bandwidth to penetrate the particular connection. It is a heading that signals something else important will follow. The "www" means World Wide Web, a part of the Internet complex. You then have a domain designation, such as org., gov., com., or edu. That domain signals what institution or organization you are dealing with. Let's say you go on the Web and discover the following URL or Uniform Resource Locator, the address:
- You note immediately you are concerned with the Public Broadcasting System and the domain, non-profit organization. For my home page you are concerned with the domain, education. If you want to find something from the FBI or the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), you would use the domain for government, gov.
- A search engine on the Internet allows you to find something. You have all kinds of search engines called by various names: Altavista, Hotbot, Lycos, Deja News, Webcrawler, Ask Jeeves, Snap.com, and Excite, for examples. I understand America On Line even has its own search engine. Each of these search engines has a common characteristic. You need to write keywords in a frame or box to find information. Depending on how carefully you write the keywords, you may find the URLs and web sites you seek. I can, for example, place the keywords, Business Communication, in a frame on Altavista or appropriate search engine. My answer will involve hundreds of thousands of "hits." Hits mean how many entries come up for any particular set of keywords. Therefore, I must narrow my search with better keywords, Memo Writing, for example, to improve my chances of finding the appropriate information.
You are shopping for a computer, and the salesperson tells you 300 megahertz is better than 200 megahertz. What is that salesperson talking about? Is 300 megahertz 50 percent better than 200 megahertz? Megahertz simply measures electricity flow through wires with those bits and bytes. Those 1's and 0's as part of the computer memory move quickly until they encounter some data not on the line. At this point you should be questioning the salesperson about a systems bus for that slowing of the data. Is 50 megahertz better than 30 megahertz? Hertz refers to wave lines. Your lines may be more undulating with faster megahertz.
The next time you have to purchase a computer, ask the salesperson to explain the systems bus rather than giving you all the details about megahertz. Megahertz of 300 is not necessarily better than 200. You need to weigh other factors. Faster is not necessarily better.
In the April 16, 1998 issue of The New York Times, a provocative statement was issued about the future of business communication. Tom Watson, the author, pointed out how business communications are affected by the Internet: "The rules of communication have disappeared." Changes are coming at a fast clip and include:
- The Internet is changing the way we work.
- We are living on Web time.
- We are working in a virtual environment.
- Sleep is a sign of weakness.
- Working on the Internet is more of a calling than a curse.
Did these previous ideas catch your interest? Have you thought about how your sleep is affected by the Internet? I usually tell my wife that the teaching now occurs 24 hours a day. Whenever that e-mail arrives, it is time for an answer. That may become the middle of the night.
If you have not seen Nerds 2.0.1 on public broadcasting channel, I recommend the experience in video. For example, I learned TCP/IP means Transfer Control Protocol, Internet Protocol. That is a fancy way of saying the rules that control how different computers talk to each other. Protocol means the rules. These five initials or acronym represent, according to Nerds, the five most important information words we all live with.
The conversation about DSLs started with my optometrist. She said she would prefer a DSL instead of an ISP (Internet Service Provider). It was cheaper for her. After some digging, I discovered a DSL means a Digital Subscriber Line. The DSL usually costs about $50-100 a month. Because it is a broadband line, it is 50-100 times faster than the common Internet Service Provider.
How would you like to spend all of your days on-line? How would you like to spend your days ordering everything you need from the Internet? That's what e-cavers do. They huddle in their respective apartments, dorms, or homes and see little of the outside. Good Morning America, the daytime news and entertainment show on ABC, recently asked selected individuals to become e-cavers for a week. They had to promise to order everything over the Internet, including walking the dog and shopping for the groceries. Their results after living as e-cavers were mixed. Certain individuals reported they were charged excessive shipping fees by various Internet-based companies. When a picture was not available for viewing the articles, the e-cavers often received inferior merchandise or the wrong item. Returns meant boxing the incorrect item and returning to the manufacturer or distributor. A tube of toothpaste, for example, cost $2, but the shipping costs added another $10. E-caving has it disadvantages.
Is e-caving the future of information on the Internet? Maybe. Because of its newer technology, e-cavers should become aware of the pitfalls as well as the promise of the Internet. E-caving is not for everyone. The next time you hear the term, e-caver, you will know that is someone who exists only because of the Internet.
Suppose you wanted to use Internet anywhere, your car, your house, or your cabin. You would be participating in nomadic computing, according to Leonard Kleinrock, one of the developers of the Internet. Professor Kleinrock, formerly of UCLA, and now semiretired, still works with Ph.D. candidates and introduces them to nomadic and ubiquitous computing. In ubiquitous computing you would enter a room and start talking. You might ask for your e-mail or something you wanted to cook. Does that sound Star Trek enough? Dr. Kleinrock describes the situation this way: "Walls and desks will be full of actuated sensors, logic, memory, processing, cameras, speakers, microphones, displays, and communications." (Chronicle of Higher Education, February 18, 2000). Kleinrock describes the ubiquitous computing as your being able to talk to the room. To me, that sounds somewhat Bill Gates. As I understand Gates' new home, you can talk to the rooms as you enter them and also display any kind of art or music you prefer. It sounds to me as if Bill Gates has achieved ubiquitous computing. You gain access to information with nomadic computing, and you gain the world of information through ubiquitous computing.
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- Last updated Friday, September 4, 2002
(c)Copyright by G. Jay Christensen, All Rights Reserved