Figure 7: Internet “Interactive” Traffic by Protocol, December 1993. Source: NSFNet13 This diagram does help to demonstrate that the Internet has not completely undergone the shift to this new information based focus. The growth of gopher and WWW servers has been explosive since the protocols were discovered, and new information based applications and protocols are appearing on the horizon. Over the next year we will see a huge number of new information servers come to the Internet based on gopher and Web technologies, we can expect to see some work will be done in both protocols to offer simple yet valuable enhancements.
The biggest change facing the Internet in the next two years is the introduction of commercial services - initially in the areas of electronic shopping and publishing. Commercial servers based on WWW are inevitable, at least 3 organizations have announced commercial servers with commercial backing from vendors such as Land’s End, LL Bean and Victoria’s Secret. A number of businesses are already promoting their products using gopher and Web technology, some even accepting electronic orders today. Today, you can visit the Virtual Record Store to find and order a CD, visit Quantum Books without flying to Cambridge and browse the latest technical titles, buy a list of government surplus properties for sale from Counterpoint Publishing, and even make a discreet stop at JT Adult Toy Store without leaving your home.
The potential for Internet profit has inspired work on commerce protocols (the Internet Mercantile Protocol) to make electronic shopping easier and integrated with these navigation tools. Video/audio conferencing and shared whiteboard applications are also under development to enhance workgroup productivity over wide distances. The quarterly IETF engineering meetings have been multicast for over a year on the Internet using experimental software at over 100 sites worldwide. This experimental technology provides 3 frame/sec video and bi-directional audio capabilities for over a year. The software has been developed and runs exclusively on SunOS, Sun MicroSystems’ variant of Unix.