Internet Evolution & LOs LO11322
Sat, 7 Dec 1996 09:18:27 -0500

This thread was TQM & LOs, but we're talking so much about the Internet I
thought I'd change it.

This thread is one that I'm enjoying very much. To put what I say in
context, I just turned 30 in June. My father has been involved in the
computer industry my entire life, so I grew up around computers. I
remember back in the mid-70's when my dad wrote as Assembler for a small,
nearly useless Monroe computer, and sold it to Monroe for around $800.

I started programming in BASIC and studying electronics when I was 10. By
the time I was 11 I was able help my dad repair Cincinati Milicron
computers (a mini-computer) which he was selling at the time. (The last I
heard of this company, they were involved in Robotics; I don't know

>From the age 10 onward I would lay in bed at night and try to imagine what
computers would be like when I was 20, 30, 40 and so on. I would dream
that my entire house was computerized, making it more energy efficient.
When I was first introduced to networking, in 1980 or 1981, I could see
its use in schools, universities, and businesses, but I never imagined it
could inimately link these three institutions together as it has. I
thought that satellites might play an important part of the future of
networking -- which they do in many respects -- and so I tinkered around
with physics as well as electronics during High School in hopes I might
someday work on the design of communication satellites.

My point is that what has emerged, and what will continue to emerge,
transcends our understanding. The future is largely unknowable, and where
we're at today -- technologically, societally, and structurally -- is not
always a good indicator of where we're going to be in the near or even
distant future. I lost many a good night sleep as a kid trying to peer
into the future. It was an exercise that I value, but at the same time
I've come to appreciate that when I now lay in bed at night and try to
figure out where organizations, the Internet, science, and society are
going I can only do so in broad terms if I'm going to even be close to
being accurate.

But I have the good fortune of working with a company who has the ability
to influence how the Internet evolves. At Novell we have an initiative we
call NEST, where we're exploring how to hook home appliances and every
other imaginable electronic device, to the Internet. For instance, before
leaving your office you could start your coffee maker so a nice hot cup of
coffee is waiting for you when you get home (BTW -- such a device now
exists and is used by our software engineers and electrical engineers; you
ought to see the contraption. You'd think you were in Star Trek the

Someday I'll be able to drive (or float) down the freeway, have my E-Mail
appear on my windshield, read it, respond to it, even listen to voice mail
and video messages, and not worry about crashing my car because there will
be some type of sensor in the line dividers which are connected to the GPS
satellite, which is coordinating and controlling all traffic. So much for
traffic jams (especially if traffic could be stacked vertically -- three
or four cars high -- and flow horizontally), and so much for wasted time
driving between different locations. And so much for bridges, overpasses,
and so forth. This type of technology will have a radical -- and I'm
certain unanticipated affect -- on our organizations and on our work.

And I can't wait to get there. . .


Benjamin B. Compton

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <> -or- <>