It was as if Vint Cerf, the so-called grandfather of the Internet, was talking to a group of dinosaurs.
Cerf, who helped build the Internet while working as a researcher at Stanford University in the 1970s, spoke to television executives at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival this past weekend and told them how the Internet’s influence was radically altering their businesses and how it was imperative for them to view this golden opportunity to be exploited instead of a threat to their survival (The Guardian report).
Television executives, like most in traditional media, are often staunch defenders of the status quo, even in the face of tumultuous change. Dinosaurs once ruled the Earth, technologists like to say, then, poof, they were gone.
It’s not as if television will completely disappear. “You’re still going to need live television for certain things — like news, sporting events, and emergencies,” Cerf says, “but increasingly it is going to be almost like the iPod, where you download content to look at later.”
Cerf, 64, is the chief Internet evangelist for Google and chairman of the organization that watches over the Internet. He predicts that if current developments continue we will be watching a majority of our television through the Internet, a revolution he says that could bring about the death of traditional broadcast TV in favor of new interactive services.
“In Japan you can already download an hour’s worthy of video in 16 seconds. And we’re starting to see ways of mixing information together … imagine if you could pause a television program and use your mouse to click on different items on the screen and find out more about them.”
Critics have said that the Internet could collapse because people are downloading too much information, particularly video (see our recent post ‘iPlayer is getting a “free ride” say UK ISPs‘), and could overwhelm the network’s infrastructure and capacity. Cerf said this concern is simply “scare tactics.”
“It’s an understandable worry when you see huge amounts of information being moved around online. But some pundits had predicted 20 years ago that the net would collapse when people starting using it en masse. In the intervening 30 years it’s increased a million ties over. We’re far from exhausting the capacity.”
Photo credits: Murdo Maclead for The Guardian; Wikipedia
Also: GuardianUnlimitedTV has uploaded part of Cerf’s discussion to YouTube.