The University Record, June 10, 1998

'Many dirt roads lead into the Internet superhighway,' speaker says

By Kerry Colligan

Regent PowerVinton Cerf and his dog both have T-shirts that read, "IP on everything." Cerf, senior vice-president of Internet architecture and engineering at MCI, is the co-designer of the TCP/IP protocol that gave birth to the Internet.

On May 29, he joined Regent Philip H. Power; President Lee C. Bollinger; British Ambassador Sir Christopher Meyer; Rein Uritam, president of the Association of Marshall Scholars; and Douglas E. Van Houweling, CEO and president of Internet2; more than 30 information age experts; and many current and former Marshall scholars at the opening session of the Marshall Symposium.

"The Information Revolution in Midstream: An Anglo-American Perspective" commemorates the Marshall Plan, "honors the Marshall scholarship program and highlights the remarkable effect the dramatic changes in information technology and dissemination are having on us all," according to symposium organizer Power.

The Marshall Scholars program began in 1953 to allow distinguished young American scholars to study in the United Kingdom. Since its inception, more than 1,000 students have participated in the program, 13 from the U-M.

The rapid growth of the Internet that has occurred since 1994, Cerf told approximately 500 audience members, largely is due to the commercialization of the World Wide Web. "We are still in the middle of the Internet gold rush," he said. "The people making money on the Internet are the people selling the picks and shovels, the telecommunications companies."

The Internet is growing so fast, Cerf said, that by 2001 MCI will need to devote the same amount of resources to the Internet as it will to telephone services.

Van Houweling noted that collaborative research will be crucial to biotechnological advances in the future. "We are now able to see the brain in action. We have to make that capability available to researchers all over, and using Internet2 we can do that. The Internet of the future will support an information-rich environment, but perhaps most importantly, it will support human collaboration. Increasingly, we will find that [the Internet] is a tool that allows us to work and play together in our future."

Vinton Cerf explains Internet growthThat future will be defined by intangible value, Van Houweling said. More and more, value is placed not on the movement of tangible products, but on intangible services that "support human interaction that is less constrained by geography and time than it has been in the past."

"I think we can expect that the kinds of organizations that our children will spend their lives creating and sustaining, and the kind of value that they will focus their energies on, will have more to do with the kinds of things that we as human beings find sustaining for our souls," he added.

As the Marshall Scholars Program nears its 50th anniversary, Meyer told the audience they should remember Sir Roger Makins, a former British ambassador who developed the concept of the Marshall Scholars Program. "It just goes to show that every now and again ambassadors can be of some use."

The opening session concluded with a multimedia presentation on the U-M Digital Library and the Upper Atmospheric Research Collaboratory (UARC). "Many dirt roads lead into the Internet superhighway," said Farnam Jahanian, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science, as he demonstrated the capabilities of the UARC project. The challenge of the collaboratory is to deal effectively with a larger number of participants, he said, with research separated by space and time, and with security and access issues.

Jose Marie Griffiths, the University chief information officer and executive director of the Information Technology Division, told the audience that "the real power of technology is the way it puts us in touch with the real aspects of our world. One of its key aspects is that it expands our dimensions of time and place. This symposium is not just about technology. It is about who we are, what we do and what we can become."


Former strikers disrupt forum

Editor's Note: Excerpted from an article by Paul Rioux appearing in the Ann Arbor News, May 31, 1998.

Chanting "No scab papers!," dozens of former Detroit News and Free Press strikers May 30 shut down a panel discussion chaired by Anthony Ridder, CEO of Knight-Ridder Inc., which owns the Free Press.

The forum, which was halted after 20 minutes of continual interruptions, was part of the Marshall Symposium at the Power Center, a two-day conference on information technology that brought international experts in the field to campus.

Provost Nancy Cantor tried several times in vain to quiet the crowd. "The University of Michigan recognizes the right to dissent, but it also recognizes the right of speakers to be heard," she said.

"We wanted to let Mr. Ridder know that he can run, but he can't hide from our questions," said Lou Mleczko, president of the Newspaper Guild of Detroit, Local 22.

Cantor said, "It's very sad because we assembled a group of terrific scholars for an important discussion. [The protesters] may have some important issues to discuss, but those issues are not relevant [to the symposium]."