Internet Mobility - A report from the Internet Global Summit
By Tom Worthington FACS
Visiting Fellow, Department of Computer Science, Australian National University & Director, Tomw Communications Pty Ltd
- Themes of the Event
- First Day of Tutorials
- Second Day of Tutorials
- First Day of Conference
- Second day
- Last Day of the Summit
- About the speaker
- Further Information
An informal report will be presented by one of the presenters at the Internet Global Summit. The 11th Annual Internet Society Conference "INET 2001" is tagged "A Net Odyssey - Mobility and the Internet", 1-8 June 2001, Stockholm. The conference will be looking at mobility not only in terms of the technology for use with wireless devices, but also for wider access to the community and relevant governance to achieve it.
This document was created live at the INET2001 venue in Stockholm using the wireless ethernet network provided for conference delegates, a laptop computer and digital camera. It is intended as readable first person report in the style of my book Net Traveller - Exploring the Networked Nation.
The event had high aims:
INET 2001 is a unique event that brings together users, policy makers, and technologists. The program will comprise more than forty sessions, and will feature three plenary meetings covering some of the issues that concern all of us.
As well as the sessions for delegates to the conference, there were also numerous meetings of IOSC committees. In effect this was the world government of the Internet meeting. What is not appreciated in Australia is the number of Australians involved in guiding the development of the Internet and I attempted to photograph as many as I could grab in the corridors.
There were about 800 delegates to the conference, which is small by IT conference standards. However, the attendees were from all around the world, with a particularly large representation from developing countries. Also the attendees represented a "who's who" of Internet luminaries. This was an academic flavor conference, with business and government present but in the background. It is good to find that despite the hype surrounding the Internet it is still possible to have a serious Internet conference.
Wireless Internet Connectivity
One of the delights of the event was the availability of wireless Internet connectivity. A wireless ethernet LAN was set up at the venue and Cisco offered their Aironet 350 PC cards for one third the normal price (with the option of a refund after the event). It was even feasible to play video of the event, via the wireless network. The result was a considerable number of delegates wandering around with a laptop open in one hand. Perhaps at the next conference they will all have palmtops.
First Day of Tutorials (Monday 4 June 2001)
- Stockholm: Fine sunny day
- Sign on IOSC Secretariat Door: As well as the usual opening times it also lists the IP address of their system.
- Mark D. Urban: Presenting at the accessibility tutorial
- Karl Auer: Ex-Canberran enjoying the lunch. Karl was prominent in the Internet censorship debate in Australia. Since 1 December 1997 he has lived in Zürich, Switzerland, work for the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.
On the first day I attended Michael Burks and Mark D. Urban's Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Tutorial:
This tutorial consists of two components. The first provides an overview of general accessibility of electronic and Information technology, including web pages but also some discussion of alternate access devices such as cell phones and personal digital assistants (PDA's). The second component addresses legal and implementation aspects of the Accessibility issues. Concentrating on the U. S. as a model, the tutorial will address both the legal issues and the way this will be implemented in organizations.
While much of the material was familiar from my work on the Olympic web site case (see below) much was new. The tutorial used the extensive notes provided by the International Center for Disability Resources on the Internet, which are well worth reading.
Accessibility is topical in the USA as "Section 508" of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 comes into force in mid 2001. It requires that electronic and information technology developed, procured, maintained, or used by the Federal government be accessible to people with disabilities. It applies from and is applicable to federal agencies which provide information to the public or to their employees through Web sites. The requirements for web sites are similar to the W3C Guidelines.
One resource mentioned which shows potential is Media Access Generator (MAGpie) , designed to add captions to audio and video in Apple QuickTime, Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL) or Microsoft's Synchronized Accessible Media Interchange (SAMI) format. Combined with speech recognition software this may be useful for online training.
Second Day of Tutorials (Tuesday 5 June 2001)
- Stockholm: Another fine sunny day
- Geoff Huston: Sorting out a networking problem. Geoff is Chief Scientist, Telstra Internet, Member of Internet Architecture Board Secretary, Internet Society Board of Trustees Secretary, Executive Committee Member APNIC Co-chair, Internet Engineering and Planning Group
Developing Countries Networking Symposium
On the second day I continued on the "Uses of the Internet Summit" and attended the Developing Countries Networking Symposium. I was expecting this to be poorly attended, with everyone going to the more technical sessions. However the session was packed with more than 150 people and extra seating had to be brought in. As well as people from developing countries there appeared to be a significant presence from development agencies.
One activity mentioned was the Global Internet Policy Initiative:
The Global Internet Policy Initiative supports adoption in developing countries of the legal and policy framework for an open and democratic Internet. The project works with local stakeholders in consultative, coalition-based efforts to promote the principles of a decentralized, accessible, user-controlled, and market-driven Internet.
The G8 efforts on bridging digital divide received some criticism, with the suggestion the approach was muddled. A report from G8 was released recently: "The Current State and Perspective of the Digital Opportunity Taskforce", June 1, 2001, IT Cooperation Division, Economic Affairs Bureau, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Japan:
- Help Establish and Support Developing Country & Emerging Economy National eStrategies
- Improve Connectivity, Increase Access and Lower Costs
- Enhance Human Capacity Development, Knowledge Creation and Sharing
- Foster Enterprise and Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Economic Development
- Establish and Support Universal Participation in Addressing New International Policy and Technical Issues raised by the Internet and ICT
- Establish and Support Dedicated Initiatives for the ICT Inclusion of the Least Developed Countries
- Promote ICT for Health Care and in Support Against HIV/AIDS and Other Infectious and Communicable Diseases
- National and International Effort to Support Local Content and Applications Creation
- Prioritize ICT in G8 and Other Development Assistance Policies and Programmes and Enhance Coordination of Multilateral Initiatives
First Day of Conference (Wednesday 6 June 2001)
Governance of the Internet
Carl Bildt (Chair), At-Large Membership Study Committee, ICANN made some startling comments about governance of the Internet, particularly domain names, was at an experimental stage. He seemed to be saying that if the Internet community didn't sort out running itself shortly then national and international government would step in. Apparently there had been some "full tough talking in meetings in Stockholm the day before. He invited the audience to join the debate at the ICANN At-Large Froum:
The At-Large Membership Study Committee was recently formed to forge a consensus on the best method for representing the world's Internet users as individuals ("At-Large Members") within ICANN. We are asking for your input to help us achieve agreement on an appropriate and effective means by which Internet users worldwide may participate in ICANN's activities and decisions. This website has been created to help keep you apprised of, and involved in, our work. Please add your name to our email list in the box below, participate in our public meetings and discussion forum, and visit often for information on the At-Large Study and related efforts. We, and other participants, look forward to hearing from you and working with you.
A later speaker suggested it was not formal government bodies, such as the UN, which might be making the decisions, but less representative bodies such as the World Economic Forum.
Where am I and who's with me?
I thought this session was going to be more of the unimaginative "you go past a pitza shop and a message on your phone offers a discount" type. It turned out to be unimaginative and socially useful applications, such as for locating and communicating between a group of applications
Location dependent services increase in popularity when consumers start to be able to access Internet from more than one location, and even from devices that move, like cellular phones. Some traditional web-based services today ask the user to enter the location of the user which accesses the service. Why is not that information entered automatically? How to merge the need for geographic information being sent to services while keeping a strong view on privacy and integrity issues? This session will discuss the benefits and downsides with geographic information being part of services on the Internet.
Second day (7 June 2001)
- Cafe Connect: Tables with power and Ethernet sockets
- "Wireless" computing: My laptop on the table
- Tony Hill: Executive Director of the Internet Society of Australia and a Visiting Fellow in the Department of Computer Science at the Australian National University
- Wireless Opinion: A company at the exhibition offering market research and opinion polls, by using fixed and mobile Internet.
Conference fatigue set in for me on the second day of the conference. The only session I attended was on Serving Mobile devices:
Supporting mobile devices over IP networks requires careful consideration in terms of content adaptation, privacy and security formats, and, in general, in terms of what the 'wireless internet' is.
This tended to be a bit technical and far from reality. The presentation from Johan Hjelm, Ericsson Research Japan on "WAP NG and iMode 2: Convergence effects on services" struck a cord, given my ANU lectures on using I-mode and WAP. However, Mr. Hjelm was claiming that NTT (the owners of I-mode) had agreed to use WAP NG in the future, creating one global standard for mobile Internet.
According to Mr. Hjelm WAP NG is another name for WAP 2, although I couldn't find this term used on the Official Wap Forum web site. WAP 2 is a draft which proposes to add Internet standards (http, html, TLS, TCP/IP) to the cut down versions previously used (such as WML).
The idea that the owners of the successful i-mode would decide to adopt the failed WAP appears very unlikely. This looks more like wishful thinking by a mobile telephone industry which has been unable to sell WAP and 3G products. Another sign of this desperation is the Mobile Services Initiative (M-Services), announced by the GSM Association, 13 June 2001. This does recognize the importance of GPRS, but otherwise is essentially WAP re-badged and with a few graphical features added. It is not an effective response to i-mode and does not provide a viable consumer product.
The mobile phone industry needs to drop WAP and simply adopt accepted Internet standards. At the exhibition I was able to try a PDA with a wireless data card fitted (courtesy of Ericsson). This was being demonstrated with software from Birdstep Technology which was claimed to be optimized for wireless. However, I found it worked fine with ordinary web pages which implement accessibility guidelines.
There is no need for a special set of protocols for mobile Internet and it is time the industry accepted this. Consumers will not pay exorbitant rates for a proprietary pseudo-Internet experience on a mobile phone. They want, and can have, real Internet and affordable rates on a hand held device. If the mobile handset makers do not recognize this in the next few months they will be put out of business by makers of PDAs adding voice functions. It is not too late for phone manufacturer's, to respond by simply deleting the WAP software from their large-screen phones and replacing it with standard Internet applications.
Ericsson Boat Ride
The day ended with a ride around the islands on the converted fishing vessel M/S Teaterskeppet. This was courtesy of Ericsson and I uploaded the photos of the ship to this web page live on-board using my Ericsson mobile telephone.
Last Day of the Summit: A Case for Making the Web Accessible
- Wireless Network Being Torn Down: One of the wireless Ethernet interfaces which was held up with gaffer tape
- Pedestrian Underpass: or "Tunnelgatan"
- Inline Skate Race: at Strandvagen
- Train to Airport: This is the Arlanda Express, a high speed train, similar to the one I travelled on from Sydney to Canberra in 1995
A Case for Making the Web Accessible
My part of the conference was to present Olympic Failure: A Case for Making the Web Accessible. on the last day of the conference as part of the Governance and Regulation Summit:
In August 2000 the Sydney Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games was found to have engaged in unlawful conduct by providing a web site which was to a significant extent inaccessible to the blind. The Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission ordered the web site be made accessible by the start of the Sydney Olympics. The details of the case and its global implications for government policy and commercial practice on the Internet is examined by one of the expert witnesses who gave evidence to the commission. The possible benefits for wireless and TV based web access from use of accessibility guidelines is looked at.
I had given a preview of this in London the week before to an audience of about 150 people from government and industry. This was sponsored by RNIB and organized by Julie Howell (held on Friday 1 June at the International Students House. This was reported as: "UK government site 'discriminates'", by Selina Mitchell , The Australian newspaper, 12 June 2001.
I couldn't find a specific Greek law to cover this, but it may be covered under Article 21 of the Greek Constitution: "3. The State shall care for the health of citizens and shall adopt special measures for the protection of youth, old age, disability and for the relief of the needy.", as cited by the Greek government in a submission to the UN on discrimination and the disabled.
Also I showed a demonstration of how to construct complex web pages from simple ones (using I-mode in this case).
An interesting poster was presented by Dr. Jiming Liu, Associate Professor of Computer Science at Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU). His research indicates that between 9 and 17 is the optimal number of links to have on a web page. This sounds reasonable, as with fewer than nine people have to go down too many levels of menus to find what they want. More than seventeen would make for a complex web page. Some of the extremely poor web pages I see have one or two links, or hundreds of them (and tend to be the pages with accessibility problems). Perhaps this is why I-mode seems to work well: typical i-mode web pages seem to have about 9 links.
About the speaker
Tom Worthington is a Visiting Fellow in the Department of Computer Science at the Australian National University. He is an independent electronic business consultant and author of the book Net Traveller. Tom is one of the architects of the Commonwealth Government's Internet and web strategy. The first Web Master for the Australian Department of Defence, in 1999 he was elected a Fellow of the Australian Computer Society for his contribution to the development of public Internet policy. Tom is a director and past President of the Australian Computer Society and a voting member of the Association for Computing Machinery.
- Olympic Failure: A Case for Making the Web Accessible prepared for INET 2001
- UK Government Gateway Discriminatory Says Visiting Web Expert, Media Release, 1 June 2001
- Internet Mobility - A report from the Internet Global Summit
- INET 2001: Internet Society Conference Program
- Website Design, For Information Technology Professionals for Module M3: Internet, Intranet, and Document Systems (COMP3400/COMP6340), May 2001, Australian National University
- Author's home page
A presentation version of this document is available: For an example of the multi-format technique proposed in this document, set your web browser to use the accompanying style sheet . This will omit sections of the document marked with the class definition "optional" and leave a large margin before titles marked "newslide". Set the browser is set to use a large font size and select the frames version of the document, for a slide-show type of presentation.
This document is Version 2.2 – 15 June 2001 (Photos modified 4 April 2006): http://www.tomw.net.au/2001/inet
Copyright © Tom Worthington 2001.