Reprinted with permission


What is today’s single most impactful driver of human progress?

Connectivity AKA Networking AKA The Internet.

The Internet is spreading rapidly, already reaching half the human race since turn-on in 1969. And with the Internet’s spread come freedom and prosperity. Democracy and Free Enterprise.

The Internet’s speed is increasing — we are now building out the Gigabit Internet. Not so long ago we carried ASCII on the Kilobit Internet, starting in the 1970s. Then Powerpoint. Then voice. Now video on the Megabit Internet, since the 1990s. Soon the Gigabit Internet and what? augmented and virtual reality…

The Internet’s mobility is increasing as smart mobile phones proliferate. A big next step will be the Internet of Things (IoT) — we’re just now finding out some of the earlier “things” to be networked — phones, thermostats, watches, cars, robots…

And we continued being surprised by the new innovations that are enabled by this new connectivity, delivering on network effects. We are befuddled by the Unicorns, all enabled by the Internet and the power of its connectivity.

Industry after industry is being disrupted, for the good, as each has its uber moment. We were surprised by the Internet’s disruptions of computing, memos, mail, telephone, television, journalism, advertising, books, music…

Next up, way bigger industries: energy, education, healthcare…

The status quo is big and mean — am looking at you, FCC — but it’s quickly overwhelmed by network effects.

Connectivity. Networking. The Internet.

Merry Christmas! and Happy New Year!

Bob Metcalfe is professor of innovation at the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, visiting innovation fellow at MIT, Ethernet co-inventor, 3Com founder and partner emeritus at Polaris Partners. This post was reprinted with permission. It first appeared on Facebook.

Bob Metcalfe