Magazine article Information Today

12: The Internet's Welcome Sequel

Magazine article Information Today

12: The Internet's Welcome Sequel

Article excerpt

Cary Griffith is an author a consultant, and president of The Electronic Book Company. He can be reached at cgriffith@msn.com or cgriffith@electronicbooks.com.

The Net's successor will make information processing faster and easier

Conceived of by a coalition of universities, government institutions, and high-tech businesses, lnternet2 (12) is the sequel to the runaway blockbuster hit called the Internet. The goals of 12 are simple: Take today's Internet to the next level, and give 12 members a new, powerful way to communicate and share information. To that end, 12 members are feverishly working on developing the technology required to implement and maintain 12.

Although 12 is going to be the semi-private network of its members, once the technology has been developed it will be used to upgrade the existing Internet. More specifically, what does that mean for the practice of law?

In earlier Legal Line columns, I've reviewed several Internet sites and Internet applications specifically designed for the law. To date, these sites have featured the relatively basic, though powerful, sharing of digital information--in the form of a variety of different kinds of documents.

Using 12, the quick and easy sharing of virtually any kind of information will be possible. Some of those information types will include video, photographs, audio, word-processing documents, and other specially created types of applications.

What it means for the practice of law is that very large, powerful databases can be created so that law offices will have new tools to both manage and control legal costs. These databases will also be used to create new lines of communication between corporate legal departments and the outside counsel representing them. So how will the blockbuster sequel to the Internet differ from its predecessor?

The Internet: What Works and What Doesn't

The Internet originally began as a National Science Foundation (NSF) computer network. Its primary purpose was to support the access and communication of information between NSF participants and academia. Gradually, the general public and business recognized the value of the Internet, and during the past 2-3 years have taken the network by storm.

Today, public, private, commercial, and academic users convey millions of pages of information across the Web. Most organizations simply take their marketing blurbs and press releases and publish them on the Internet. Some valuable sites publish relatively worthwhile information. And an increasing number of sites are beginning to offer interesting transaction-based services, along with sophisticated database applications.

As of Christmas 1998, e-commerce has become the latest and greatest Internet activity. Consider the way Amazon.com can be used as a database of publications in print, a place to share information about books, or a place to buy books.

Unfortunately, today's Internet innovations can only proceed up to a point. Video, for example, can't be easily transmitted across the Internet because it's simply too large, or--using the technical jargon--it consumes too much bandwidth. Loosely translated, insufficient bandwidth means you can't get a camel through the eye of a needle.

And while commercial services and the public have taken the Internet by storm, the storm is part of its problem. Spend an hour or two following the strands of the Web and you 11 likely encounter your share of entanglements. Sometimes you know you've entered the correct Internet site address, or URL, and the ubiquitous "HTTP/1.0 404 Object Not Found" message appears. It can be frustrating, particularly when you were planning to do important things, like order from the lunch menu at Ole's Cafe. Other times, access speeds are like those during rush hour on a Los Angeles freeway. You watch your screen fill up with uninteresting language, while the pictures--which you've preferred since leafing through comic books in the first grade--take forever to fill in. …

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