EET: What do you see as the most interesting development today?
Metcalfe: The blogosphere is perhaps the most interesting thing going on. I'm watching the blogosphere dismantle old forms of journalism. I'm watching the daily newspaper go down the tubes, as it so richly deserves. The New York Times laid off 200 people here in Boston recently and I celebrated that event, with the [Boston] Globe and the Times being corrupt and perverted. It's just an amazing coincidence that the publisher of The New York Times just happens to be the son of the previous publisher. His son just happens to be the best-qualified, left-leaning [candidate]. He just doesn't understand what newspapers are for. He thinks they're his personal propaganda machine. But the readers have caught on and they're reading it less, and he's laying off while the blogs are blossoming. And I see that as a beautiful future. They provide choice, and freedom and competition and multiplicity.
EET: But there's no editing.
Metcalfe: Some blogs will get edited and filtered over time. Reputations will evolve and variations will evolve. Let a thousand flowers bloom. The secret to progress is an acronym I have called FOCACA, standing for freedom of choice among competing alternatives.
We're learning how to search and filter. Google searched Web pages and now we're developing the ability to better search the blogosphere: connecting facts, opinions and information better.
EET: Initially there was hope the Internet would open up intersocietal communication and eliminate borders, but some see it as having enabled more closed groups, with like-minded users feeding among themselves. Is that a reversal?
Metcalfe: That's rubbish. The Internet is spreading freedom around the world and that's a very positive thing. Look, all the people in the NYT have gone down a rat hole together. I'm not suggesting [the paper] be shut down just that everyone cancel their subscription.
Print isn't going to die suddenly, but it is dying. Be careful. Still, it'll take a long time. The [computer] displays are getting better, etc. However, keep in mind the four B's: beaches, bathrooms, buses and . . . I forget the fourth. You can't bring your computer there. On the other hand, I guess you can, now.
EET: Ethernet has changed since you invented it in 1973. How would you define Ethernet today?
Metcalfe: Ethernet has evolved considerably over its 33 years, and the word has lost its original meaning. I've often given the speech that the one enduring quality is the business model, with six features.
It's based on a de jure industry standard; second, the implementations of a standard are owned by companies vs. the open-source model. Third is fierce competition among vendors, it drives progress; fourth is that this competition is not based on incompatibility. Interoperability is required by the market so the buyers can choose vendors. Fifth is that the standard evolves based on market interaction meaning rapidly. And sixth is that no matter how rapid this evolution, there's a high premium based on backward and forward compatibility. This is the most enduring part of Ethernet.
EET: What is the relationship between Ethernet and your work now in ZigBee?
Metcalfe: Ethernet was proposed, and became the solution for, networking PCs. ZigBee is the proposed solution for networking embedded computers. Ethernet began as standard [IEEE] 802.3, ZigBee began as [IEEE] 802.15.4. So, they both have standards. Also, there are the protocol stacks that go on top: For Ethernet, it eventually became TCP/IP, and for 802.15.4 it's proposed to be ZigBee. There's an argument about that, as there was about TCP/IP on Ethernet, so for .15.4 it's still an open question, though ZigBee is the leading contender. Others include Millennial Net, Crossbow, Dust [Networks], Zensys and then the whole TinyOS world. ZigBee is the commercially supported control standard.