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Opinion & Essays - Apr, 1997 Issue #45


by: Bob Kirkpatrick
Webmaster, Woodbury Reports
Spokane, Washington 

My neighbor was putting his dog through its paces a few days ago and I stopped to watch. The dog would jump over a stick, roll over, and play dead whenever you told it “Perot Won!” 

“Not bad for a 105 year old dog, is it?” he asked me, smiling. It took a second to click on what he said, but then I realized he meant “dog years.” Dog years, as a rule of thumb is seven to one. At least, that’s what ‘they’ say. 

The internet is the same way. I don’t mean that it will jump over a stick, roll over or play dead. Well, in some ways it might, but I mean in regards to time compression. After some fast calculations on my fingers, toes, and taking into account such things as wind velocity, gravitational deviation, and foot pounds of torque, I calculated that the internet has dog years at the rate of four to one. (That’s 4:1 for you mathematicians). 

Of course, now you’re asking yourself “what does this mean to me, the average internet user?” It means that in the average year, the internet will develop and retire four significant event life cycles. So you have to stay abreast if you want to actually “use” the web, and not merely have access to it. I don’t mean use it like ‘make a website,’ or ‘give your company an intranet or extranet.’ I mean be able, as a user, to successfully navigate around and really experience the websites the way the authors intended. 

A couple of weeks ago, Microsoft announced it had discovered a few security issues with their Internet Explorer Browser. These ‘issues’ would permit a predatory site operator to lay a trap for the unsuspecting web surfer. When you arrive at the site, your computer could be instructed to do literally anything within its power. Your data could be stolen without you knowing it, your software could be erased, and there’s even worse. Microsoft is now offering version 3.02 of the Explorer, with these issues and a slew of operational fixes included. This is a significant event in the internet’s lifestyle you shouldn’t ignore. 

With this information in hand, when was the last time you upgraded your browser? If it has been longer than six months, you should be starting your download or heading to the software store. 

All living things go through a growth process, and cycles. Just as my neighbor’s dog was growing mellow, skilled and personable faster than a human does, the internet also is like a living, growing thing. The technology which permits us to use the net grows and evolves also. That means that we, the users of the internet, have the same built-in obligation to keep abreast as we do with life itself. If we don’t, we can’t complain about not being able to read a section of the web, or about not being able to make an animation work, or about our computers blowing up from underneath our fingertips. Without regular updates, we have abandoned our ability to grow and improve with time and with the internet. 

Which on the net, runs four times faster than your clock! It’s like dog years. 

Copyright © 1997, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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