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April 18, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:28pm


By CBR Staff Writer

Where is the Internet going and what will it do for you? These were just two of the questions that a conference held at the beginning of the month attempted to answer with the help of speakers from Marimba and Alta Vista. Abigail Waraker reports from the Intra-Multimedia Conference held in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Silicon Graphics heralds the dawning of the three-dimensional WorldWide Web

A three-dimensional interface is the future of the Web, Mark Hughes, European marketing manager at Silicon Graphics Inc told the conference. When the Web technology really becomes ubiquitous, that is when home users take it on, the model will not be clicking on hyperlinks, but a 3D interface, he said. We walk around in a 3D world and this will impact the way we want the Web to look. Java and VRML will be two key technologies to making this happen, he said. In December Superscape VR Plc said it saw the killer application for the virtual reality as the Internet. Company founder and president Ian Andrew argued that the future of the Internet and virtual reality would be based around the concept of real time three-dimensional pages on the Internet. To this end, it launched its Virtual World Wide Web, described as a global network of linked virtual worlds on the Internet. Current gaming technology is one precursor to seeing three dimensions on-line. Interactive games will be big in the future and are the beginnings of the powerful three-dimensional architectures needed to provide a 3D Web, Hughes said. Nintendo Corp has just released Mario 3D, a three dimensional version of the famous game for its N64 games console. This console is more powerful than our most powerful computer in 1989 and uses MIPS technology from Silicon Graphics, he said, adding: There is no reason why something like N64 can’t do more than just play games.

What will drive the Internet home and how will they know if you are a dog?

The debate over what will be the driving factor for the Internet home market continues. There is no one killer application to get me to come home and turn on to the Internet, argued Jamie Minotto, director of sales and marketing at set-top box company, Nchannel Ltd. The killer application needs to have entertainment value and ease-of-use.Electronic-mail is likely to be the strongest driver in the home, especially electronic-mail chat rooms where people can log in and chat to people they don’t know. Videoconferencing, where Granny can see the grandchildren, also has huge potential as a killer application, he said, comparing the concept to the success of camcorders. Also at the conference, Bill Laing of Digital Equipment Corp’s Alta Vista Internet Software Business, Massachusetts, called for businesses to really start making the Internet work for them. There’s this famous cartoon of a dog working on a keyboard, with the caption ‘On the Internet, no-one knows if you’re a dog.’ In business terms, on the Internet no-one knows if there’s two of you or 50,000. They don’t know if you’re squashed into a tiny office or if you’ve got a big building with marble reception and squashy sofas. The playing field has been levelled for small businesses. Too many companies are worrying about the Internet letting new competitors move in on their patch. But it’s just as much about how small businesses can find new customers for themselves all over the world.

The Internet is still in its infancy and will be for a very long time – Sam Hobson, Marimba

The Internet is still in its infancy and can be compared to the commercialization of electricity, said Sam Hobson from JavaSoft spin-off, Marimba Inc, who stepped in on behalf of co-founder and chief technology officer Arthur van Hoff at the last minute, at the IntraMultimedia Conference in Edinburgh. In the beginning the light bulb was the sole purpose of electricity. Now we have a host of applications for electricity, and we don’t think about the source of the power when we watch television. When new applications for electricity came about, like the m

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otor car, people worried about how they would use electricity to deal with it. This is comparable with the Internet today. We are stuck on the problems and difficulties of the Internet. In the future we won’t think about the Internet delivery mechanism, just the applications it offers. The Internet is still in its infancy and will be for a very long time. This could mean that despite all the hype – the Internet has actually been underhyped when we look back on it in the future, he said. He estimates Internet growth will double every three years. Three million new Internet hosts were added last month. Netscape got 10 million users in two years. It took Microsoft 10 years to get that number. Marimba was set up last February. Its Castanet system has garnered a lot of attention as a content delivery mechanism but with its Sun Microsystems Inc pedigree – Marimba’s founders split from JavaSoft – it has only been a matter of time until Marimba delivered on what may prove to be its true cash-cow: software distribution. Marimba is preparing to add authentication and encryption capabilities to its Castanet Web push technology so it can distribute non-Java applications.

Forget the Intranet the Extranet is on its way along with the Extranet Service Providers

The Extranet is the latest buzz word to hit the multimedia industry, just as people are beginning to get their heads around what an Intranet is. The Extranet takes the Intranet concept a step further, and enables an organization’s customers to access certain parts of a company’s data over the Internet and to communicate with each other as well, according to Gordon Howell of Internet Business Services Ltd and keynote speaker at the IntraMultimedia Conference. The Extranet puts companies that you work with in touch with each other. It brings trusted parties into the company Intranet. And it is more efficient than Electronic Data Exchange and proprietary data communications methods. The Extranet will have an important impact on Internet service providers, he warned. Software vendors need to consider providing fully managed Extranet and Intranet services. The Extranet Service Provider will arise to manage these networks. The facilities management model will come in in a big way. Expect the big US companies like AT&T Corp and Global One Inc, and British Telecommunications Plc to go first, he said. 70% of US companies now have some form of intranet compared to 55% just six months ago, according to Howell, indicating the pace of change. These figures are reflected in user expectations. People are starting to expect to find immediate information about a company on a Web site. So companies need to start taking the intranet concept seriously just to keep pace. Howell defined the intranet as an office network that is completely owned by the organization and that also ties in with the Internet and uses some form of TCP/IP, HTML, STMP or other open Internet-based standards in a client-server mode.

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