NetWatch

Issue No 7

26 February 1997


GLOBAL VILLAGE

Malaysia thinks big. Cyber capital of Asia?

The Malaysian government is forging s ahead with plans to make the country the cyber-capital of Asia by the 21st century. The planned administrative capital, Putrajaya, will be "an intelligent garden city" and the centre of electronic government.

The Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) will be a high-tech corridor consisting of "a multicultural web of mutually dependent international and Malaysian companies." Cyberjaya, another planned city, will host a Multimedia University.

Canadian Business Online Presence Surges.

Canadian businesses and other organisations are now rushing to get on the Internet, with growth surging by over one-third in the last three months of 1996 alone, according to the Internet Light and Power Index.
By the end of 1996, there were 66,103 domains registered for Canadian business and other organisations, a 36 percent increase over September figures, when there were 42,591 Canadian domain names registered.

"If this growth trend were to continue to the end of 1997, there could be as many as 160,000 Canadian businesses and organisations with registered domain names on the Internet,'' says Internet Light and Power (ILAP) president Tristan Goguen.http://www.ilap.com

SERVICES ON-LINE

The professionals

Professionals seeking research and consulting firms and trade show planners to provide product news and reviews, trend analysis, keynote speeches and seminar transcripts will find it all on the Mainspring A site beta test will target Web users at 100 companies, including Ernst & Young, Raytheon, Reebok and Price Waterhouse.

A public beta test is scheduled for April 11, with a paid subscription roll-out planned for May 1. Mainspring has secured content licensing agreements with 11 professional book publishers to provide book excerpts, including IDG Books World-wide, Osborne/McGraw-Hill Co. and Sun Microsystems Press. Content will be updated as new information develops, which will be at least every two weeks.

Subscribers will be able to access abstracts of third-party success stories, how-to information and competitive intelligence related to the creation and deployment of Internet sites, Intranets and extranets. Full-text articles can be purchased via the Mainspring site or by hyperlinking to the content provider's own site.

The biggest order taker?

The big electronic commerce initiative under way at General Electric took another leap this week, as the $1.6 billion GE Supply division, Shelton, Conn., flipped the switch on SupplyNet. The Web site allows customers to search, price and place orders for electrical equipment and supplies via a standard Web browser.

Accessed via commerce.supply.ge.com, the site showcases GE Supply's XPD2000 computer and communications system, which collects incoming transactions and routes them to one of 126 regional offices for overnight fulfilment. At the outset, target customers for SupplyNet are large industrial and commercial accounts.

New Online Financial Services Research Tool.

Financial services companies are beginning to tap the potential of the online market. In the United States more than 1,300 banks, thrifts and credit unions are already using the Web to reach the 25-30 million consumers online. But with little prior experience to go on, the challenge for financial services marketers is how to adapt generic market data to their specific needs.

"There will be an explosion in online financial transactions and other forms of electronic commerce in the next 12-24 months," according to Edgar Kully, principal of Crestwood Associates. Crestwood's research shows that already 58% of online users are comfortable with purchasing online, and 37% of veteran users make an average of four purchases per year online. Crestwood Assoc. http://www.crestwoods.com

Bills gone banking.

Microsoft and Intuit Inc. have teamed up with Atlanta-based CheckFree Corp. to devise and promote a single standard for banking over the Internet.. The Open Financial Exchange standard seeks to establish rules for exchanging financial data among financial institutions, businesses and consumers over the Internet.

Both Microsoft and Intuit will modify their competing personal-finance programs to adhere to the new standard. Conflicting standards have been cited as one reason that online banking hasn't really caught on with consumers and financial institutions. "The banks are saying we don't want to have all of these choices," says an industry consultant.

SURVEYS

Internet Domain Survey, January 1997

Number of Hosts and Domains advertised in the DNS

Date

Hosts

Domains Replied

ToPing*

Jan 97

16,146,000

828,000

3,392,000

Jul 96

12,881,000

488,000

2,569,000

Jan 96

9,472,000

240,000

1,682,000

Jul 95

6,642,000

120,000

1,149,000

Jan 95

4,852,000

71,000

970,000

Produced by Network Wizards
Available

US on-line population reaches 47 million

47 million adults on-line in the US at the end of 1996, according to an IntelliQuest survey, representing a 34% growth in the on-line population from Q1 of 1996. The vast majority of the on-line population are 'light' users, with only 4.25 million people using the Internet and on-line services for more than 20 hours per week.

Among the survey's findings: the gender balance has tipped, with females comprising 45% of the on-line population; the 25 to 34 year old age group accounted for the biggest growth, now representing 30% of the on-line population; and strong growth is set to continue, with 11.7 million people planning to begin using the Internet or an on-line service in 1997. Contact IntelliQuest at www.intelliquest.com

$100M for Next-Generation Internet

President Clinton has asked Congress for $100 million in his budget request for the 1998 fiscal year to help finance an effort by nearly 100 universities to create what the government calls the Next Generation Internet.

The bulk of the funds would be spent by the Pentagon, the Energy Department, and the National Science Foundation to help support the creation of a high-speed network that would be exclusively for education and scientific research. The network would serve as a testbed for technologies that will be available to commercial Internet users within the next few years.

If Congress grants the request and provides the money, it is still not clear how the Next Generation Internet would be structured. It is expected that some part of the government funds would be channelled to a group of nearly 100 universities that are collaborating on a project they call Internet 2.

The group's preliminary engineering plan calls for a series of geographically scattered high-speed switching points known as "gigapops" that would be operated by groups of universities or by private companies. A gigapop is a point of presence (POP), an Internet access point, capable of handling data at the rate of a gigabit per second.

Rob Hagens, director of Internet engineering for MCI, said that Internet 2 promises to test new protocols and technologies in ways not possible in the typical research and development lab. "One of the reasons the Internet has gotten to be what it is, is a lot of out- of-the-box thinking," he said. "That's something universities are quite good at."

Internet 2 is expected to be the first wide-scale implementation of Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), which increases the number of Internet addresses by an order of magnitude. It would also allow users to select their Quality of Service so that someone might elect to pay more for a high-quality connection to broadcast video or choose a cheaper connection for video conferencing. The university officials responsible for planning Internet 2 anticipate that the first gigapops could be operating by July, and would be managed by universities in a particular region or by a commercial entity.

Organisers anticipate that the gigapops would be connected, at least initially, by the Very High Speed Backbone Network Service (vBNS), which is currently operated by MCI under a five-year agreement with the National Science Foundation.

The vBNS, recently upgraded to 622 Mbps, was created to transfer traffic among five federally funded supercomputer centres, but was extended to two dozen campuses last year. Organisers expect that the gigapops would be connected in the future by national network clouds that would encompass high-speed networks operated by the Internet 2 organisation or by companies like Sprint and IBM. Organisers say a central organisation, dubbed a "Collective Entity," would become responsible for co-ordinating traffic among the gigapops. A process for settling payments would also be established for traffic moving from one vendor's network to another's.

Gregory A. Jackson, University of Chicago associate provost for information technology and chairman of the Internet 2 engineering committee, said he expects participating universities to have 500-Mbps backbones on their campuses and 150-Mbps connections to their local gigapop to provide "absolutely clean" 10-Mbps connections to the desktop.

By Thomas J. DeLoughry Reprinted from Web Week, Volume 3, Issue 4, February 17, 1997 Mecklermedia Corp. All rights reserved. Date: 19970217

Your good health

Shared Medical Systems Corporation (SMS) launched this week the Internet Technology Services (ITS), a program designed to integrate the Internet into health care solutions. The program consists of three parts, the first of which involves bringing the Web to those involved in clinical research, communication, and education.
The second part of the program includes home page design and Web hosting services, and the third includes interactive Web applications. These SMS applications will enable users to access patient information as well as other critical health care-related data. "SMS ITS strategy provides Internet connectivity, support standards, expanded administrative capabilities, and the ability to utilise SMS applications from remote locations via the Internet, further increasing the value of our customers' investments in SMS solutions," said Alan Gold, Vice President of Marketing and Education Services.

So they took your name and number

You gave your name and address to that nice web site guest book? What is your protection for your privacy? Well in Australia little In the US has made recommendations for protecting privacy on the Web.

The FTC staff report said companies should notify people if information collected during registration or via guestbooks will be used for future solicitations. Privacy is expected to remain a big issue, and the potential for regulation looms, so ignoring the FTC's call for full disclosure and absolute security when collecting information might have consequences later.

Surfing for Points

A small number of marketing companies are trying to determine if the frequent-flier concept can be modified to reward frequent Web surfers. At least four efforts have been launched to give consumers points for online activity, while collecting data about them that is shared with sponsoring companies. Proponents say the concept is a sound one that is likely to be popular with consumers who are familiar with off-line loyalty programs.

But one program has already been suspended as its organisers rethink the idea, and some critics question if awarding points to Web surfers will bring much value to marketers or to consumers.

"The same rules apply to the Internet as with traditional marketing. You have to have something of value to offer consumers and advertisers," said Tom Patterson, IBM's chief strategist for electronic commerce. "Otherwise it can be viewed as a gimmick that attracts people initially but not for long."

Comment

The knowledge society

The knowledge society has arrived and few societies are prepared for it. The last great transition was when the cottage industries and crafts that supplied the humble wants of the rural based population were thrown into the cataclysm of the Industrial Revolution.

In that era if you had two arms could stand upright and had a modest grasp of numeracy and literacy you could get a job, raise a family and pay a mortgage. So numerous were such people that Karl Marx forecast they would rule the world!

We now move into a world where knowledge is currency Agriculture occupies under 5% of the population and manufacturing is falling below 30%. The Internet is a harbinger to the on line revolution and an indication that the transition has begun in earnest. To some the cottage lamps are beckoning again.

But three groups suffer.

Group 1:

The ignorant and illiterate school leavers Victims of the sad cult of whole context learning and self construction literacy training. This lunacy has harmed the median learners, not bothered the brightest but left those whose houses are not interested in books with less literacy than their grandparents

Group 2: A large number of young people are well educated but unskilled.. In a knowledge society the most precious commodity is knowledge of the job. Previous experience.

Group Three: the older worker whose knowledge has been superseded and is redundant or who were the easiest to get rid of since they had more resources.

The focus in gaining full employment has been to get these groups onto the bottom rung of the ladder All the schemes which might have worked in the depression of the 1930's have been tried repeatedly and failed.

Why try and cram more unlearned or pseudo skilled entrants onto a crowded bottom rung. of the ladder

Better to move those on the next rungs one step up. Make junior book keepers into accountants, ticket writers into graphic artists. The emphasis should be on giving those in the lower middle ranks a more skilled repertoire.

The unemployable can then train for the first steps on the ladder knowing that there is a place there. While the first steps might be Mc Donald's or data input but the second and third are open for progress.

The opportunities for a number of players are plain

Universities

instead of sitting in beleaguered backwaters of education bleating about lowered income or touring the foreign student pools could to go to local enterprises and contract for online training in areas in real demand.

Private training consultants instead of offering short term courses could provide substantial qualifications online
Prospective students could judiciously mix both options. . Education Al la carte. A skilled worker is both a capital asset and a public benefit.

Enterprises could offer real educational and qualification packages as part of their enticement package to the advancing cohorts of the future skilled.

The State would invest in upskilling the currently skilled to make room for those unskilled to begin the process. A far better investment than the training of a personal social worker for every unemployed and lifetime dole and social security payments..

Real Philanthropists could endow Internet establishments offering such options as a tangible public benefit.

The option is not only to design online MBA courses for the upper ranks but management courses for receptionists and stock broking for pay clerks.

If the receptionist leaves the chair 3pm to online in a conference room would it break the bank to have a part time trainee from Group 2. For the day that she is a real earner.

Group three have opportunities in the training and organisation of such systems, going on line themselves to become contract educators.

Group 1, well its back to square one to achieve what was done in tin shed in small schools houses in the thirties. By rote learning through the screens teach them to read and write

The wider challenge is to remove the notion that education is an activity conducted at specific geographical location to a specific age group at a specific time.