Archive for February 2007

Even Vint Cerf is talking about the Mirror…

February 22, 2007

Confirmation of these central principles comes from many places, and the opportunity to discuss my book with such intelligent readers and industry analysts continues to be a stunning and unexpected reward for the time spent writing this book.

 The latest confirmation, of course, can be found on CIO.com, where Vint Cerf offers his comments on the nature of the Internet, and how it reflects our society. (http://www.cio.com/blog_view.html?CID=28931)  His examples, of criminal behavior and intent, are certainly part of the overall framework, however, it is much more than a reflection of our worst characteristics.  Like a mirror, our systems reflect the good and the bad, the infirm and the rigid, the dynamic and the static.  Like that mirror, we tend to blame the systems rather than doing the harder work of what Steve Yatko at Credit Suisse has called “re-architecting ourselves.”

In the past few months, admittedly ignoring my responsibilities for this column in response to personal challenges, I’ve had the chance to discuss The System is a Mirror with Paul Kwiat, at the University of Illinois (Quantum Computing) who, with his exceptional graduate team, is studying this at the level of photons (when they are “split, they are called “daughters”).  They are examining the behavior of incredibly small particles, challenging the linear nature of time, and their work raises new and (in my opinion) fascinating issues about our entangled relationships, with each other, with our systems, with our data, and deeper, to the very core elements of which the universe is composed.

In IT, the “stack” will go away.  I discussed this yesterday with the President of EMC Software, though he admits that our current legacy systems remain an important requisite of our attentions.  We are moving, as an industry and as a society, to “the presentation layer” where our community and our technology converge.

This is the very heart of what we should be discussing, as professionals, and as citizens.  To remain focused only upon the machinery is both short-sighted and a kind of denial.  There are many more layers/levels of interaction at work, mirrored in the systems that we build, and it is time for a broader discussion of what our reflections tell us about where we are going, and what we should be doing, along the way.