Tuesday, November 25, 2014

BPN 1695: Internet of NEEDS

Last week I attended the European Youth Award Festival in Graz (Austria). Three intense days with a group of creative, ambitious and inspiring young men and women. Although the city of Graz looks like a conventional Austrian city, it offers room for inspiration as a UN city of design.

And it did happened again. One term hit me straight between the eyes and kept intriguing me from the beginning: the internet of needs. Wow, a real good theme for a conference. But what does it cover? It kept me busy, just like terms like Internet 2.0 (with a capital) and internet of things. So I went back into the historic terminology.

Internet was used as term first in 1974 by Vincent Cerf and Bob Kahn in document describing the transmission protocol TCP/IP. The protocol was rather revolutionary as it was not possible at that time to jump from one network to another. You had always to finish a session and start a new session for reaching a computer on another network. So internet was basically a technical term to describe the overarching network of networks.

Internet of documents
This technology got a real boost when the Brit Tim Berners Lee developed the internet of documents. Originally he designed a system to make internal documents accessible of the research institute CERN in Geneva, where he worked. Internally CERN used Standard Generalised Mark-up Language (SGML) for coding documents. Together with his Dutch colleague Eric van Herwijnen he designed a subset of SGML, for the coding of internetpages, better known as HyperText Mark-up Language (HTML). By combining HTML with the HyperText Transfer Protocol (http) it was possible to communicate between different web machines. From 1991 CERN worked on a system to make external documents accessible worldwide. On April 30, 1993 CERN released the software for external use. The World Wide Web was born. At first text documents were exchanged, between various servers. Graphic files, audio files and video files (in that order) followed.

The term World Wide Web eventually disappeared to the background, while the term Internet (with a capital as usually happens with new phenomena) remained en vogue. The term was followed by Internet 2.0. This conference term basically indicated a complex of software for internet. The term Internet 3.0 did not really fly as it did not have a real objective.

 Internet of Things
In the meantime the term Internet of things started to appear from 1999 onwards. Kevin Ashton, head of the MIT Auto-ID Center coined the term with the vision that all objects, including people would be provided with identifiers and could be managed with computers by exchange of data. In the present wired world IP addresses can be given to all things and even to people. The development of the internet of things is technically inspired with an objective to develop smart things such as smart cars, smart homes, smart health, smart economy and smart energy.

Internet of NEEDS
I heard the term the internet of needs last week for the first time. It was used as opposing to the internet of documents and the internet of things. While the internet of documents is traffic in one direction from sender to receiver and the internet of things will only refine this traffic in a smart way, the internet of needs was described as two-way traffic. Besides the internet of needs deals with the needs of users and uses software to cater for connecting people. With social media and mobile apps this aspect can be demonstrated.  Facebook and LinkedIn are examples of the social media. But from the group of social entrepreneurs we see interesting apps coming. The European Youth Award was a shining example of internet of needs with application in the categories Healthy Life, Connecting cultures, Go Green, Active Citizenship and Future Living. But also Vodafone Mobiles for Good challenge is a nice example, for exmple with its Into D'mentia app.

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