Updated – The little known story of Dr Walter Hoogland: The catalyst who made the World Wide Web possible



first posted on Jun 11, 2012 @ 21:12 – updated 30 April 2013

Prof Walter Hoogland was one of the earliest people to spot the potential of feynlabs – and in less than a year feynlabs has come a long way. I saw the original document at CERN on facebook today and hence the update to this post

As part of my work, I have the pleasure of meeting many smart, clued-on people.

It’s a perk of the job – and also a great learning experience.

However, sometimes you meet someone – and don’t know who they really are until you Google their name

I met Dr Walter Hoogland in his current capacity as a leading research advisor for some major research initiatives in Amsterdam when I chaired the Apps for Smart cities event

In conversation, Walter mentioned that he was once the Director or Research at CERN

CERN of course is where Tim Berners Lee created the World Wide Web

When the Web was first created, Robert Cailliau, who was one of the first converts to the philosophy of the Web – worked with CERN’s management to give the WWW technology away without royalties and as Tim Berners Lee says – ‘This was hugely important for the future of the WWW’.

In a 2010 talk, Robert Cailliau said: During his talk Robert asked Walter Hoogland, former CEO at CERN, to stand up and then he explained that HE signed the document that transferred all rights for the World Wide Web to the world and away from CERN. The audience launched into a loud applause. Thanks to him we now have a free and world wide Web.

It turns out that this was the same Dr Walter Hoogland I met in Amsterdam for a coffee ..

That’s amazing ..

Think of it:. Had CERN, with Dr Walter Hoogland, as director of research NOT released the IPR for Web royalty free .. We would never have had the World Wide Web as we know it today ..

Having found this story, I mentioned it to many in Amsterdam and Europe ..

No one had heard of it ..

Hence the blog .. And I am sure you will agree that it is a very commendable achievement

Incidentally, I met Walter because he was interested in my latest project Concepts of programming languages for kids and we are indeed very fortunate to have Walter guide us for this idea

In a world obsessed with IPR and litigation, it is indeed fortunate that the Web (and humanity) encountered such a forward thinking person as Dr Walter Hoogland in it’s nascent stage of evolution

The above photo of Walter was taken by me for this blog in a subsequent meeting

Many thanks to Ger Baron for the introduction

Digital World in 2030 – workshop on Technology trends – European parliament April 23 2013















Digital World in 2030 – workshop on Technology trends – European parliament April 23 2013 These are my detailed notes from being the Rapporteur at the workshop on Technology trends at the Digital World in 2030 held at the Altiero Spinelli Building, European Parliament

The session was chaired by Lambert van Nistelrooij, MEP and EIF Governor and besides me, the other panellists were

- Patrik Regårdh, Head of Strategic Marketing, Ericsson

- John Finney, Chief Commercial Officer, O3b Networks

- Matthias Wulff, Head of Communications Clubs and Direct Marketing, Bertelsmann


The event was based on updating the Digital world in 2025 – indicators for European action created in 2009. The aim is not to predict the future – but rather to predict the future directions.  The Digital world in 2025 report was based on some key ideas

  • A paradigm of mass collaboration
  • Living a world of abundance (fast, fat pipes)
  • We are going from a world of traditional economy to digitally led economy
  • Leading to a new value chain
  • In 2025, What will we pay for? What will we invest in?
  • How will governance be impacted?
  • What R and D investments will be needed?
  • We will live in a world of Smart systems and a Data led world. But what does that mean?
  • And most importantly – will technology drive people together or pull them apart?
  • Finally, what would be the place for Europe?

The objective of the sessions was

  • To look at the existing 2025 report i.e. comment on what is in the report, how did that content evolve and comment on what is missing.
  • For me, to co-relate the ideas with other key policy discussions ex ESPAS
  • The report covered many existing tech trends including – Manycore, terabit networking, next generation internet protocols, a single device accessing all services, internet of things, RFID, ipV6, spectrum management, Cloud, wireless sensor networks, immersive web. How will these evolve?
  • The sessions will feed back into the next version of the report

The discussion

MEP Lambert van Nistelrooij  set the stage by indicating that we will have a forward looking debate

And also the context that 2014 was the year of the EU elections

Comments as below:

Patrik Regårdh

  • The mobile dimension is key – mobile is integrated into everyday life
  • Digital Identity is the core of many of the benefits in the report – but Digital Identity is not yet developed and fragmented
  • The report does not cover the potential decoupling of value creation and job creation
  • In 2030 where will we go when we leave the office?
  • The digital infrastructure platform is based on Mobility, Broadband and Cloud. In most cases, it exists but will evolve
  • Transformation in society – can be efficiency driven or disruption driven. The later is not covered and not easier to predict
  •  We need cross sector regulation for many areas like healthcare, transportation etc
  • We will face a challenge in managing behavioural change at individual level v.s value chain evolution of industries (ex threat of music industry)

Matthias Wulff

  • Companies have plans – but users often do different things
  • Spoke of the Tolino platform created with Deutsche Telekom
  • Tolino said that is open, cloud based, secure, privacy enabled(does not follow users), more aligned to user process and technology is in the background
  • The book business model may change(streaming for books?)

John Finney

  • Comes from the satellite industry
  • Demonstrated a video of Steve jobs which said that man is a tool maker and can be faster and better than animals due to better tools
  • No one in this room has grown up collaborating with others (unlike the current generation which is doing so)
  • We see some key trends 0 new generation has grown up completely online, net generation loves to connect, social networks are core to the Web i.e. now a fundamental part of the Web, traditional corporations are facing competition from ‘clusters of businesses’, peer production is key(IBM-Linux), harnessing human capital involves connecting as many people as possible
  • In emerging markets, the capacity to Peer is limited due to lack of connectivity
  • Satellites could provide the capacity to add 3 billion more people
  • Global collaboration means – open systems, peering, sharing, acting globally

Audience comments and discussions

  • Jurgen (from DG connect) – even in hard economic times, ICT practitioners has seen a 3% year on year increase in demand for jobs
  • Lambert  van Nistelrooij compared to China, korea re broadband uptake
  • The rate of change in ICT is great – you would want to be treated by an ‘old’ surgeon (demonstrating experience) – but the same does not necessarily translate to an older IT professional since the rate of change in ICT is high. Hence, a capacity to learn is inherent in ICT education
  • How do we know the ‘best’ universities?
  • Innovation has cycles. Policy makers miss that
  • A paper on innovation in 1988 missed the mobile phone completely!
  • iPad for kids may be useful because they can learn faster without having to worry about handwriting!
  • For the first time, I heard Rwanda and Estonia mentioned in the same context(uptake of ICT)

Comments welcome. This will be an ongoing discussion leading up to the next version of the report in 2014


Smart cities and the Internet of Things – empowering the citizen






The ex Chinese Premier Wen Jiabo once said “Internet + Internet of things = Wisdom of the earth”

Indeed the Internet of Things revolution promises to transform many domains ..

Here, I present a personal, citizen centric and a realistic view of where it is going

It is the basis of my Smart city talk at Close and Remote this week

As the term Internet of Things implies (IOT) – IOT is about Smart objects

For an object (say a chair) to be ‘smart’ it must have three things

-       An Identity (to be uniquely identifiable – via iPv6)

-       A communication mechanism(i.e. a radio) and

-       A set of sensors / actuators

For example – the chair may have a pressure sensor indicating that it is occupied

Now, if it is able to know who is sitting – it could co-relate more data by connecting to the person’s profile

If it is in a cafe, whole new data sets can be co-related (about the venue, about who else is there etc)

Thus, IOT is all about Data ..

By 2020, we are expected to have 50 billion connected devices

To put in context:

  • The first commercial citywide cellular network was launched in Japan by NTT in 1979

The milestone of 1 billion mobile phone connections was reached in      2002

The 2 billion mobile phone connections milestone was reached in 2005

The 3 billion mobile phone connections milestone was reached in 2007

The 4 billion mobile phone connections milestone was reached in February 2009.

So, 50 billion by 2020 is a large number

There are two classes of applications that will drive the uptake of IOT

a)     Top down – mainly corporate/vendor led – ex Smart metering, vending machines etc and

b)    Citizen led – more grassroots, citizen led approaches

Maslow said – “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

That’s pretty much how companies see IoT and Smart cities i.e. they each come from their respective strengths (ex for Intel, it is a Microprocessor problem, for Cisco it is a video problem etc etc)

For that reason, I believe that the later(citizen led IoT approach) will be more disruptive

Smart cities can be seen as an application domain of IOT

In 2008, for the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population will be living in towns and cities. By 2030 this number will swell to almost 5 billion, with urban growth concentrated in Africa and Asia with many mega-cities(10 million + inhabitants). By 2050, 70% of humanity will live in cities.

That’s a profound change and will lead to a different management approach than what is possible today

Also, economic wealth of a nation could be seen as – Energy + Entrepreneurship + Connectivity                                                                               (sensor level + network level + application level)

So, what makes a city ‘smart’?

Building upon the previous discussion, my view is a Smart city is a city that behaves like the Internet i.e. is a platform/enabler for it’s citizens

Thus, the citizens make the city ‘smart’ by adding knowledge, value, data etc

This is a part of a wider socio economic trend to go from ‘mass production’ to ‘smaller individualized services’ – ex in music, in urban farming, in the Bristol pound, in local sourcing of food etc.

For the same reason, I am not a believer in the Urban Operating system

The three areas I focus on are

a)     Open source hardware and software as an enabler to smart cities (Arduino, Raspberry Pi etc)

b)    Education – especially my ed-tech start-up feynlabs  -which is focussed on accelerating the learning of computer science for young people especially using Physical computing(building interactive physical systems which can sense and respond to the Analog world – especially applications that can be created by the Raspberry Pi and Arduino)

c)     Internet freedom – Bills like SOPA, CISPA etc which go against the ethos of the Internet

Look fwd to the discussion

Ajit Jaokar @AjitJaokar

ajit.jaokar at futuretext.com



Book review – Mobile marketing – an hour a day by Rachel Pasqua and Noah Elkin











Last month, I read the book Mobile marketing – an hour a day by Rachel Pasqua and Noah Elkin - from the perspective of a user – in an attempt to understand Mobile marketing for my start-up feynlabs. My goal was to find a book which was simple enough for others in our team to read but also detailed enough to be practically useful. Hence, the choice of this book.

In reading it, I have also got to know the authors Rachel and Noah and I invited them to the first ever online discussion at the new group at forumoxford (Oxford University – next generation mobile applications panel – which I co-chair)  (which I recommend you join  on linkedin – its free)

Here are my comments about this book

1) The format is simple (hour a day) which makes it readable

2) The early chapters are full of detailed stats which help set the stage

3) The book takes you through a practical set of steps – in other words, its a very good checklist – hence useful in itself

4) The authors suggest a new set of  4Ps – (portability, Preference, Presence and Proximity) – in contrast to the old 4Ps (Product Price Promotion Place).

This leads to their wider view (which I agree) that “Well, more than ever, mobile technologies are just the tools that help us create the kinds of real-time, hyper-relevant experiences that will resonate with our audience. As we liked to say, multiple channels, multiple devices, multiple locations—one connected brand.”

So, in a nutshell – I recommend it.
Anything I don’t agree with? A minor perspective – if you follow the book logically – you would start with SMS – that I do not agree :) i.e. today SMS is a part of the mix but not a starting point

Policy/Mobility update March 2013 – interesting things I am tracking


Over the last few episodes, I have been crystallizing the approach for this monthly report.

We have now a clear focus on the ‘Mobile first’ strategy – which aligns well with both my Oxford University course I teach and the forumoxford network that I moderate – which brings a community perspective.

As usual, we track these trends from a mobility, Digital policy, innovation and disruption perspective.

Mobility and Mobile first

Since its 40 years on April 3 when the first mobile call was made –  and we live in a Mobile first world, its appropriate to use the image of the first phone (source ITV)

We explore mobility from four perspectives – The status quo, Change in behaviour, Structural changes in the industry and Trends for future disruption

Status Quo

Change in Behaviour

Structural changes in the industry

The industry continues to change in fundamental ways ..

Trends for future disruption

Content and media

  • First, a story which shows why the newspaper industry is in trouble – Experts are created in many different ways – This Guy Became An Expert On Syrian Arms Trafficking, Just By Watching YouTube http://feedly.com/k/15SgUAM
  • ProPublica also continues to redfine the Journalism Industry http://feedly.com/k/ZZPic8
  • There was a debate on a second hand market for Digital goods – Will We Get a Second-Hand Market for Digital Goods? http://feedly.com/k/109gLY5   and turns out that MP3s can’t be resold online, says appeals court http://feedly.com/k/XT8BkT
  • Innovation in the TV industry comes from many different angles – The Second ScreenIndustry Is Set To Explode” http://feedly.com/k/14sPfu5 , Spotify Plans To Take On Netflix And HBO With Streaming Video Service http://feedly.com/k/YA14dO and Boxee TV gets DLNA, 3-D streaming and more http://feedly.com/k/ZXf3K0
  • But still, because access models lower content costs – Record labels are fighting Pandora, Spotify and others http://feedly.com/k/10nuDO5  and the Love hate relationship between eBooks and libraries continues – Penguin is proud to make all of our eBooks available to library patrons http://feedly.com/k/YVTpmi


The Web

I am biased towards the Web but the Web is important for a simple reason – it tends to interoperability and hence critical mass. Ultimately, the Web always wins and even when it appears that the Web is not, it ultimately tends to make a closed system into a platform (i.e. innovation shifts to the next higher level). So, the Web is critical for innovation


Regulation is always interesting from a Policy standpoint .. and is always an ongoing conversation ..


Developments getting a lot of attention

Some developments made a large impact on the Web ..



I have always tracked disruption – and many interesting developments this month ..



And lots more innovation ..