Yesterday, Yvette Miller, Sam Demetriou and I ventured out to Tysons Corner, VA for an event titled “The Future of the Internet.” Presented by business news company Bisnow, the event featured Vint Cerf, regarded as “the Father of the Internet” and now Chief Internet Evangelist at Google, and Steve Case, co-founder of AOL.
The event was laid back, and ran more as a conversation than formal presentation. During the first half, moderator Tony Lupo, a Partner at Arent Fox, conducted a casual interview of Don Rippert, CTO at Accenture, and Vint Cerf. For the second half, Mark Bisnow of Bisnow chatted with Steve Case. The overarching theme of both discussions focused on the speakers’ insights into how the Internet continues to evolve, and the role it will play for users, businesses and society in the coming years. It was an incredible opportunity to listen to what these men, who have been so influential in how the Internet has taken shape and become an integral part of our lives, think about the current state of the Internet and the vast possibilities for its future.
One of the most interesting parts of the discussion, I think, was Steve Case’s opinion about the way the Internet has changed democracy in our society. I won’t quote him, but generally, he does not believe the Internet has necessarily made the democratic process better, but rather that it has created more political “noise.” Having to sift through this excess information of varying quality makes participating in the process more complicated. This viewpoint contrasts with popular opinion that the digital age has made democracy more accessible to many Americans.
I penned a blog post on Election Day in 2008. Two years later, I think most people would agree that the Internet has dramatically changed the way people look at politics and voting. The 2008 presidential election will go down in history as a turning point in how candidates conduct their campaigns. And beyond campaigning, the public can continue to track officeholders’ incumbencies via Twitter and Facebook. To illustrate, a friend of mine works as the “New Media Director” for an Illinois Congressman. Such a position did not exist even five years ago. Good or bad, like it or not, the Internet is having, and will have, an impact on the democratic process.
Another part of yesterday’s event that really impressed me was Vint Cerf’s attitude. He was genuinely impressed with the amazing ways developers have used the Internet’s capabilities to create new applications that make our lives better.
Overall, I found the event fascinating and was glad I had the chance to attend. It reminded me of why I got into this business in the first place.
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