Looking back at lifecasting and the internet

May 18, 2018
by Mark Ollig

This week, we’re reaching back into the Bits & Bytes archives with a column I originally wrote May 19, 2008.

My readers should note, today’s column is updated where needed.

The newest internet sensation of 2008 is real-time “lifecasting.”

Lifecasting is more or less a person who broadcasts moments of their life on the internet.

The first “lifecaster” was said to be Steve Mann.

In 1994, Mann began wearing a bulky wireless head-camera and started real-time, continuous video transmission of his daily life activities – broadcasting them over his website for the online world to see.

Mann, wearing his 1994 lifecasting head-gear, can be seen at http://wearcam.org/steve.html.

March 19, 2007, Justin Kan began real-time, over-the-internet lifecasting of his daily doings using a web camera and a microphone.

He wanted others to have a venue for their lifecasting, so July 21, 2007, Kan’s “Justin TV” (JTV) live-streaming, video hosting website went online.

JTV began with some 60 independent lifecasting, video-streaming, broadcast channels focusing on numerous themes.

By 2009, thousands of folks were broadcasting live over hundreds of internet live-streaming websites.

They ranged from musicians, those promoting individual lifestyle channels, political channels, to retired folks chatting about “the good old days” with their online guests using text and voice.

I recall some JTV channels featuring the lifecasting of cats, dogs, turtles, and fish.

Today, Facebook users and other social media venues can instantly broadcast live with each other at any time.

Vinton G. Cerf is one of the original internet pioneers, and is known as the “Father of the Internet.”

From 1976 to 1982, Cerf played a crucial role in the defense department’s development of what became the internet.

Cerf, along with Robert Kahn, developed the TCP/IP (Transport Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) software.

TCP/IP are the internet transmission rules which frame the underlying architecture of the internet.

During 2008, Cerf attended a Technology Alliance annual luncheon and talked about the early days of the internet and his thoughts about its future.

When asked the question of whether or not the term “surfing the internet” originated from his last name, he replied, “It did not.”

Cerf told the attendees at the luncheon, he recently purchased two terabytes of hard drive storage for $600 (remember, this is in 2008).

He calculated how much 1TB (terabyte) of disk memory would have cost in 1979; a mind-blowing $100 million.

Today, one can purchase a 1TB fixed hard drive for $130, or a 1TB External USB 3.0 portable hard drive for $60.

When asked in 2008, to “look ahead 10 years,” Cerf said there would be many more mobile devices connecting to the internet; predicting nearly 10 billion.

He wasn’t too far off on his prediction.

This year (2018) there will be approximately 7.19 billion mobile devices in use on the planet, according to gsmaintelligence.com.

In 2006, Vinton Cerf spoke before the US Senate committee hearing on network neutrality and said he was “. . . fortunate to be involved in the earliest days of the ‘network of networks.’”

He stated network neutrality is essential to the internet’s success.

When asked how the internet will operate in the distant future, Cerf answered, “Over a period of a hundred or a thousand years, the probability of maintaining continuity of the software to interpret the old stuff is probably close to zero. Where would you find a projector for an 8-mm film these days? If the new software can’t understand, we’ve lost the information. It’s a serious problem.”

For me, it is equivalent to asking, “What modern computers are built with a drive to read the data encoded on a 5-1⁄4-inch floppy disk?”

On the other hand, paper books seem to have worked out well, insofar as being a stable medium, where past, present, and future generations can easily read its contents without needing technological intervention.

Indeed. Paper books, newspapers, and magazines require no batteries, software programs, or hardware to read their contents or see the photos they contain.

A book printed 500 years ago is still easily readable.

Can we say the same for information contained within current data storage mediums?

I suppose, 500 years from now, they’ll use an optical scanner with a holographic light beam to read the information contained within “ancient” storage devices.

“I was fortunate to be involved in the earliest days of the network of networks. From that experience, I can attest to how the actual design of the internet – the way its digital hardware and software protocols, including the TCP/IP suite, were put together,” Cerf said in 2006.

The complete 2006 statement presented by Cerf before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation is available at http://commerce.senate.gov/pdf/cerf-020706.pdf.

Justin TV, http://www.justin.tv ceased its live-streaming website Aug. 5, 2014, and became a gaming channel called Twitch TV, https://www.twitch.tv.

There is only one original lifecaster from JTV who is now broadcasting on Twitch; FranktaylorsLifecast. You can visit his live-streaming, lifecasting channel at https://www.twitch.tv/franktaylorslifecast.

My weblog is still operating at https://bitscolumn.blogspot.com.

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