Vive l' Internet revolution

How many times have you heard the phrase "Internet revolution"? If you keep a close watch on our industry, my guess is: at least twice a week.

If you keep a close watch on Internet stocks in the US, it's probably closer to twice a day.

But all hype aside, what is so amazing about the Internet?

To the general non-IT public, the Internet means, at best, Web sites and e-mail.

To those of us who pride ourselves on the knowledge that intelligent packet-switched IP networks route data traffic by the most efficient route, it's all child's play now.

The question is: when it comes to the Internet, do we really know where it's all going?

In the last two weeks, three PR companies have called me to conduct surveys of general industry trends and media perceptions.

The only reason you conduct a survey is because either a) you don't know the answer, or b) you need statistics to validate your opinions. In my case, the questions mostly reflected the "a"-type motive. "What is going to be the hottest IT trend for 1999?" one PR flack asked.

Immediately I thought: The Internet.

It might be Y2K, but after a quick bit of navel-gazing, I think my instincts are right.

Not since the birth of global telecommunications has the business world witnessed such a powerful phenomenon as the Internet. It arguably now underpins every corporate IT decision-making process.

But you know what I think is the most interesting thing about this quiet revolution?

Unlike the noisy industrial or French revolutions, the Internet revolution is about true democracy.

Yes, that's right, democracy does exist in the IT world.

For example, the boss is only an e-mail away, while unhappy users or staff members have the power to conduct effective, low-cost campaigns at the push of a button.

But even more significant is the fact that it proves the old adage is true: "No man is an island". I refer here to our old friend, Telstra.

Telstra has long enjoyed centralised control of its voice network. In contrast, the Internet is decentralised and without any enemies.

My gut feeling is users are just starting to realise just how good freedom from the old giant can be.

Mark Jones edits the network and telco sections of Computerworld. He is also the editor of Network World Today. His e-mail address is mark_joneS@idg.com.au

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