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Information Superhighway
by Rick Smith (April Fool's Day 1994)

Bill Clinton stated in a speech that "We must also work with the private sector to connect every classroom, every clinic, every library, every hospital in America into a national information superhighway by the year 2000". Health care and education won't be the ONLY uses for this "superhighway" in the future. Business and entertainment will also be a huge part of this marketplace.

This superhighway metaphor has spawned a rich set of some interesting (and sometimes humorous) "superhighway" buzzwords. Here are definitions of some of these buzzwords that may be used in the future:

The information superhighway - the fiber optic cable, satellite network, or microwave "backbone" that is used to actually transfer the data in this enormous network. According to MCI, this is "... a road that will not connect two points but connect all points" and will connect everyone in a global network -- "there will be no more there - we will all only be here".

Building the superhighway - laying the fiber optic cable.

Builders of the superhighway - companies like the regional Bell companies and the national cable companies.

Paving the superhighway - creating the content and software for use on this network backbone (the superhighway).

Highway map - list of services that can be accessed on the network (superhighway).

Potholes, Chuckholes - system program bugs or trouble spots. Currently a big pothole is how to design and create a low cost system capable of almost simultaneous access in a national on-demand video application.

Traffic jams - slow system response due to too many users and too few system resources.

Stop lights - Complex logon procedures and long multilevel menus.

Highway patrol - system auditing software and security procedures.

Route 66 - good ole Internet - before the "Web".

Red Light District - the sexually oriented online services that contain explicit photographs and video clips. It will be interesting to see how the government will balance regulation of the "highway" with citizens' first amendment rights.

A well traveled road - Network resources used by the early adopters.

Driveway, On ramp - the hardware and software interface (Bridges, Routers, Multiplexers) used to connect the individual user or group of users to the network backbone (superhighway).

Tolls, Gas, Oil - what you need to pay on an hourly or monthly basis to access and use the system (superhighway). Nobody said the system was going to be free. Includes tariff in order to build the network in the rural area.

Driving instructors, Service station attendants - consultants who can assist users and clients (drivers) in using the system who have the money (afford tolls, have money to build driveway) but not the knowledge and expertise (driving skills).

Driving privileges - government regulations regarding who can use the network (superhighway) and how much they will tax it usage (tolls).

Passing lane - system access via 28.8K modem (this month).

Highway robbers - hackers or other users which can steal information from you as data is accessed. Could also be "builders of the superhighway" if things don't go right.

Dirt road - access to CompuServe on a 110/300 acoustic coupler. Group I fax.

The recent merger of Viacom and Paramount is a first step along this superhighway. Only time will tell what will happen with this marriage of cable delivery and content, but who's going to pay for this wedding?

So how's that for "a bit of fun" for April Fool's Day?

Copyright 1994 Rick Smith All rights reserved.

   
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