The Grid to Make Internet History

On 30 April 1993, CERN announced that the World Wide Web would be free to anyone. Today, CERN brings use you the Grid which could soon make the Internet obsolete. The UK Times reports that the lightning-fast grid is capable of downloading entire feature films within seconds.

The latest spin-off from CERN, the particle physics centre that created the web, the grid could also provide the kind of power needed to transmit holographic images; allow instant online gaming with hundreds of thousands of players; and offer high-definition video telephony for the price of a local call. […]

David Britton, professor of physics at Glasgow University and a leading figure in the grid project, believes grid technologies could “revolutionise” society. “With this kind of computing power, future generations will have the ability to collaborate and communicate in ways older people like me cannot even imagine,” he said. […]

The power of the grid will become apparent this summer after what scientists at Cern have termed their “red button” day – the switching-on of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the new particle accelerator built to probe the origin of the universe. The grid will be activated at the same time to capture the data it generates. […]

Ian Bird, project leader for Cern’s high-speed computing project, said grid technology could make the internet so fast that people would stop using desktop computers to store information and entrust it all to the internet. “It will lead to what’s known as cloud computing, where people keep all their information online and access it from anywhere,” he said. […]

“Projects like the grid will bring huge changes in business and society as well as science,” Doyle said. “Holographic video conferencing is not that far away. Online gaming could evolve to include many thousands of people, and social networking could become the main way we communicate. The history of the internet shows you cannot predict its real impacts but we know they will be huge.

Will the Grid empower coercive government control at the expense of social resistance movements? In other words, will the Grid become the Holy Grail of the iRevolution? What impact will the Grid have on organizational behavior? Will centralized states be able to capitalize on the Grid more effectively than social resistance networks? We should note that Twitter is already being used in cases when government speed is too slow. One of my dissertation hypotheses is that organizational structure plays an important role in determining whether ICTs can be used effectively or to their full potential.

Patrick Philippe Meier

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