Millennium 2000: Future of the InternetAired January 1, 2000 - 7:00 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: A new millennium dawns around the world, and the celebration continues.
COLLEEN MCEDWARDS, CNN ANCHOR: From aviation to power grids, early Y2K reports bring good news.
HARRIS: And the Internet frontier, forecasting the wired world in the 21st century.
I'm Leon Harris at the CNN Center in Atlanta.
MCEDWARDS: And I'm Colleen McEdwards. Welcome to our worldwide Millennium 2000 coverage.
Well, planes are flying, power plants are working, complex telecommunications systems humming right along. It's the first day of the rest of the millennium, and no Y2K glitch stole the New Year.
HARRIS: And knock on wood. That won't change, either.
From Seattle to San Francisco and, most recently, Samoa, the last midnight of 1999 is now history.
Last hour, hundreds gathered on a beach at the last point on earth to reach the new millennium.
In many places, the turnout for parties was a bit less than expected. Still, thousands were sleepless in Seattle as the new century eased into the final mainland U.S. time zone four hours ago.
MCEDWARDS: San Francisco, like many cities, celebrated with a spectacular fireworks display.
HARRIS: There is a collective sigh of relief after many people celebrated with one eye on the dawning millennium and the other on the lookout for the Y2K bug.
CNN's Rick Lockridge has been reporting on those who kept a vigil at the International Y2K Cooperation Center in Washington. We go there now to get the latest.
Rick, what's going on?
RICK LOCKRIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Leon, they did keep a vigil, but we've just heard a few moments ago that they're not really going to keep a vigil all that much longer. They've told us that they're going to go into a stand-down mode after a briefing at 10:00 this morning.
That is how confident they are that their determination that there are no major Y2K glitches internationally will hold true, at least through the rest of the weekend.
You can see behind me, the lights are still all green for the countries reporting, about 106 countries reporting worldwide on their status. The only yellow lights on that site have nothing to do with Y2K problems.
Now, there have been a couple of minor glitches reported throughout the world, including one involving a monitoring system for a nuclear plant in Japan. That ordinarily would not be considered minor because of the word "nuclear" in there. However, this was a monitoring system and not part of the nuclear plant itself, and therefore officials do not consider serious the fact that the monitoring system failed to transmit its data to several other stations nearby in the moments after midnight local time last night.
Elsewhere, I think experts are saying that if there are to be any problems, it'll be more likely to be a trickle sort of a problem, a drip-drip-drip rather than a flood of events that I think a lot of us expected to happen if it was going to happen in the moments after midnight.
And those experts feel that that trickle will start on Monday, when most of the world goes back to work. Now, Bangladesh's markets are open today. They've had no problems. That's got to be taken as an encouraging sign.
Let's take a quick look at how the Web is covering this story worldwide. We have some Web pictures for you, this one off the Wired News Web site, has a tongue-in-cheek headline, "Welcome to the Year 1900." Of course, we're glad that didn't actually happen.
There's the CNN story that we referred to a moment ago. They played that fairly prominently, the Japan nuclear monitoring system failing. And we have some more information for you about exactly where that monitoring system was. It's in the plant outside of -- well, let's see, I had the province here, and I'm having a computer crash of my own right now. How ironic is that?
There we have some more headlines on "The New York Times," "Glitch Is a No-Show." There's "The Sydney Morning Herald," that beautiful front-page photo there, inside story. They also report that "Doomsday Has Arrived, and It's OK So Far."
And we have one more newspaper for you, "The Times" of London. They didn't even have a Y2K story, Leon, they just devoted their front page to the revelry. And I think that that's important to note, that we didn't have any major Y2K problems this weekend, so we could all concentrate on having fun and not worry about getting money out of the ATM for the cab ride home. HARRIS: All right, that's a good deal. And the irony of your computer going down on you right now is not lost on us.
LOCKRIDGE: Can you believe that?
HARRIS: Believe it or not.
LOCKRIDGE: My face is...
HARRIS: It's not lost on us.
Well, listen, one of the things that we've been looking at are some of the things that may come down the road. And leap year, this is a leap year, and that may cause a problem for some people. Are people there in the center concerned about that?
LOCKRIDGE: Well, you know, it's -- it happened because leap years do not often occur on years ending in two zeros. It only happens once every 400 years. And programmers didn't really do their homework, and so they overlooked that fact. So, yes, we do have a leap year on February 29, a leap day on February 29 of this year. It is a leap year. And that could cause some problems later on.
HARRIS: Yes. All right, Rick Lockridge reporting this morning from Washington. Good luck with that computer. We'll talk to you later on, Rick.
MCEDWARDS: All right. We want to take you now to Eastport in the U.S. state of Maine, where the first sunrise of the new millennium in the United States is peeking up there, I guess has peeked up there over Eastport, Maine. Eastport, Maine, is on the northeast coast of the United States.
So a happy New Year as Eastport welcomes the dawn.
Well, airliners continue to fly into the new year with no major problems. But the fear of possible Y2K problems and other worries kept people on New Year's Eve far from the airport.
CNN's Greg LaMotte reports.
GREG LAMOTTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was totally expected. This was not. This is Los Angeles International Airport.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've never seen the airport this quiet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Quiet, but not this quiet.
LAMOTTE: LAX is the world's fourth-busiest airport.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You couldn't prove it by me tonight. It's amazingly quiet. LAMOTTE: It appears with all the talk of Y2K and fear of terrorism, those who planned to fly did so before New Year's Eve.
MICHAEL DIGIROLAMO, DIRECTOR OF AIRPORTS, LOS ANGELES: Absolutely. The information that we've had is that the people just didn't want to fly at this time. A lot of the airlines saw it coming, canceled flights. We've had some international flights go out with four people on them tonight. It's really amazing.
LAMOTTE: The ticket counters were all but empty. So were the airport's stores, except for the people who work in them.
As for Y2K...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no Y2K problems. All systems are working fine.
LAMOTTE: Despite the absence of passengers, security was tight. Normally 12 Los Angeles police officers are assigned to LAX. On New Year's Eve there were 45.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We probably have more security police officers on duty than we actually have passengers in this terminal.
LAMOTTE: As for those who decided of fly, there seemed to be very little concern.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When your time is up, it's up. You might as well go for it. So we did.
LAMOTTE: It appears the vast majority, however, were just as happy to stay at home and watch the rest of the world go for it.
Greg LaMotte, CNN, Los Angeles.
HARRIS: Seven and a half minutes after the hour now.
We go on to check other news this morning. The latest on the Indian Airlines hijacking for you now.
The 155 hostages on board that ill-fated flight are now celebrating their freedom. The eight-day ordeal ended yesterday when the Indian government agreed to set free three jailed militants. The hijackers in turn released the hostages and then fled.
Indian officials say they believe the five hijackers and the freed militants are now headed to Pakistan.
In Russia, the sudden resignation of President Boris Yeltsin has thrust Vladimir Putin into the spotlight. The nation's acting president quickly showed what his top priority is, that is, passing up a New Year's celebration for more important matters.
CNN's Alessio Vinci with more from Moscow. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In sharp contrast to Boris Yeltsin's poignant farewell address to the Russian nation announcing his resignation, the new acting president, Vladimir Putin, passed up New Year's celebrations in Moscow, heading instead to the breakaway Republic of Chechnya.
Awarding troops with hunting knives, he told soldiers fighting separatist militants that their task was to keep the Russian Federation together.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, ACTING PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): We're not talking about restoring the country's dignity. No, this is about something much more serious. It's about putting an end to Russia falling apart.
VINCI: In an unusual move, the unexpected trip was broadcast live on Russian television, a sign the new commander in chief wasted no time to start his campaign to become Russia's permanent president.
ANDREI KORTUNOV, POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that right now for Putin, the election campaign will be the most important thing. If and when he's elected as president of the Russian Federation, and once he has the public mandate, then we will see some changes, and definitely he will have to distance himself from Yeltsin.
VINCI: But only hours after becoming acting president, Putin signed a decree giving Boris Yeltsin immunity from legal prosecution, a clear sign that Russia's new leader will not allow any witch hunt that could destabilize the country.
After years of economic hardship and failed promises of a better life, Vladimir Putin will have to restore some confidence in the Russian people.
(on camera): Hoping for a better future, Russians came to Red Square to celebrate the new millennium and the most significant political change in almost a decade.
(voice-over): Some already assume life in Russia with Putin as president will be better.
"I think we'll get paid, and we'll have work. We'll have a good army, education will improve, things will get just great."
For these Russians in their first day of the new millennium, things appeared indeed just great.
Alessio Vinci, CNN, Moscow.
MCEDWARDS: From the Vatican, a message of peace. A short time ago Pope John Paul gave his first sermon of the new millennium. Speaking at Rome's Basilica of Santa Maria Majore, the 79-year-old pontiff said that preserving peace for the next 1,0000 years will take a lot of work. He also gave thanks that the world was spared violent conflict during the cold war. John Paul says love for one another is the key for a new millennium of peace.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POPE JOHN PAUL II (through translator): The Jubilee which has just begun constitutes a pressing invitation to love in the hope for a reconciled humanity. We cross over the threshold of a new year with a commitment to make our contribution that peace might become the daily language of people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCEDWARDS: Looks like a beautiful day there in Rome.
HARRIS: It was a beautiful day, which was good news for the, what, some 100,000, 150,000 people who were gathered there in the square to listen to the pope this morning.
MCEDWARDS: Jill Brown is going to bring us up to date now on the forecast around the world. Jill?
HARRIS: Hi, Jill.
JILL BROWN, METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Leon and Colleen. Happy New Year to you.
MCEDWARDS: You too.
BROWN: Looking good there in Rome. Actually 9 degrees Celsius, 48 Fahrenheit right now, with the sun shining, as you could see.
As we take a look at the U.S., the sun is rising here, for anyone who was probably not up at midnight, it's a nice way to start the new year.
A little bit of rain in the Southeast. Doesn't look like this is going to be a big deal. And we also have a little bit of snow in the West. Let's take a closer look at a couple of locations.
Savannah, little bit of wet weather on the river front there, and Interstate 95 this morning. Misty in Atlanta, you might have a little fog to contend with, but probably nothing more than that. We have some snow showers in the mountains of Arizona, and looks like just outside of Las Vegas, where it should be sunny and a nice afternoon.
In the Northwest, we had our break last week. This week it's over, and we're back to a wet-weather pattern, it looks like. We'll have rain in the lower elevations, snow in higher elevations. And that continues looks like just about every day through at least Wednesday.
So take a look here. This is our forecast going into this evening. This low doesn't look like a big deal at the moment, but keep your eye on it, because as it heads to the Northeast we'll see a little bit of rain and snow, mainly rain, places like Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit for now. But as it heads northeast-bound, we're going to start to pick up more Gulf moisture, and we'll have a fair amount of rain on the map by Monday.
But as we go through this first day of the new year, things look really very nice. Got the day off, going to be out there enjoying it, it's outside activities today in Atlanta, 67 degrees, while Dallas will hit 74, and we think we'll see more of that. It'll start heading up and across Tennessee. We may see 70s tomorrow and up into the mid- Atlantic before things get back to normal, and that really comes up by Tuesday or Wednesday. And it's going to be back to winter weather clothes. But nice little break here.
Meanwhile, through the Rockies, 45 the forecast high for today in Denver, should be dry, but we may see a little bit of snow in the mountains to the west. And there's more cold weather coming in, not just across the Rockies but all spread across the country next couple of days. But not a bad way to start the new year.
Back to the newsroom, Colleen and Leon.
HARRIS: No, this is just fine with us. All right, thanks, Jill, we'll see you later.
Still to come this morning, minor glitches and a few road bumps on the information superhighway.
MCEDWARDS: More on that. And you're looking at live pictures from a New Year's Day parade in London. We'll be going there live when we come back.
Stay with us.
MCEDWARDS: Well, the sun is just rising along the eastern coast of the United States. You are looking at a live picture there of the U.S. state of Maine, a pristine sight indeed as the sun comes up, the first sunrise of the new millennium on the eastern coast of the United States.
Well, 2000 has begun, and so far there are no signs of major Y2K problems.
But as CNN's Marsha Walton reports, we may not be out of the woods yet.
MARSHA WALTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Y2K, why worry? As the midnight hour passed around the world, no major computer glitches surfaced to spoil the global celebration. And associated fears of computer virus outbreaks and attacks by malicious cyberhackers went largely unfulfilled.
JOHN KOSKINEN, PRESIDENT'S Y2K COUNCIL: By the time we get to the end of today, Monday or Tuesday, I think, if things are running as smoothly then as they are now, then I think we can say that there's been an amazing accomplishment. But I think we can't say that yet.
WALTON: Reports of minor problems came in from several global locations. Slot machines at three Delaware race tracks shut down when a computer chip switched the date to 1900. The problem was quickly fixed in most of the 700 machines.
Radiation monitors at a Japanese nuclear plant shut down, but officials said plant operations were never in danger.
Also in Japan, the National Y2K Center survived an unsuccessful attempt to break into its computer system.
But when the clock struck midnight in England, many vital worldwide computer systems keyed to Greenwich Mean Time didn't miss a beat. Air traffic control and power grid systems, among others, kept on ticking.
One utility in Wisconsin saw its computerized clocks jump ahead by 35 days, but insists the problem was not Y2K-related. Consumers didn't notice a break in their power supply.
British Rail customers briefly noticed a hoax on the railway's Web site saying all trains were canceled due to Y2K concerns for three days. But British Rail repaired the defaced Web site almost immediately.
And one "Star Trek" Web site, perhaps making fun of Y2K mania, listed the next "Star Trek: Voyager" episode as airing January 1, 1900.
But Y2K watchdogs caution the Y2K glitch isn't necessarily zapped yet. Some problems may show up as financial markets and businesses open up over the next three days, while other problems may not be found for months.
Marsha Walton, CNN.
HARRIS: London is ushering in the new year with a parade today along the River Thames. More than 2 million revelers crowded the streets there last night for the spectacular celebrations.
CNN's Chris Burns is live at the parade route this morning. He's got more on the day's festivities.
Chris, good morning. Happy New Year.
CHRIS BURNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, happy New Year to you.
And, well, for those who did survive that big bash last night, we've got more fun today. It is a parade, it is with 12,000 youths from around the world, what is billed as the largest New Year's Day parade, although I beg to differ, because I think it's the Rose Parade.
But in any case, there's a wonderful parade. It has many bands from across the United States and around the world, lots of pomp and circumstance from the British and lots of rip-roaring marching bands from the States.
There are 30 states that are represented here. There are involved the largest peacetime airlift of American civilians, so the organizers say, about 6,000 Americans are among these 12,000, mostly young people, who are performing today.
This -- also, Tony Blair managed to step out of 10 Downing Street, which is just about a block away, and he start -- walked around here and said hello to people before the crowds got a little bit too thick. It was nice to see him. He pressed the flesh a bit and signed a couple of autographs.
We'll be seeing today lots of marching bands, lots of cheerleaders, classic cars, which are going by me right now, lots of circus theater, antique bikes. The town crier came by, International Chopper Club, Rolls Royce enthusiasts, all kinds of things today in this parade. It's a 2.2-mile parade going from Big Ben to Trafalgar Square, a little bit past Picadilly Circus. So we'll be watching it today.
Back to you, live from London.
HARRIS: All right, thanks, Chris Burns reporting live this morning from the streets of London.
MCEDWARDS: Right. And as the new millennium made its way around the globe, London and elsewhere, we're going to show you more of the highlights when we come back.
HARRIS: Don't go away.
HARRIS: Well, it's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it. Crews in New York City worked all night cleaning up confetti, streamers, and debris from the downtown streets. An estimated 2 million people packed Times Square last night for the famous New Year's Eve dropping of the ball, and it was a spectacular sight.
MCEDWARDS: And celebla -- celebrations, rather, for the New Year have been both impressive and spectacular, wouldn't you say?
HARRIS: That's right. We've had a chance to see a lot of them. But just in case you missed all of the partying, we're going to take a look at what's taking place.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DICK CLARK, NEW YORK CITY: ... six, five, four, three, two, one. Yaaaay! Yaaaay! Yaaaay!
(singing): For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... six, five, four, three, two, one. Happy New Year! Happy New Year!
CROWD: Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind, should auld acquaintance be forgot...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happy New Year!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: Happy New Year and good morning to you. I'm Leon Harris in CNN Center in Atlanta.
MCEDWARDS: And I'm Colleen McEdwards. Welcome back.
Want to check our top stories for you now, with a magnificent sunrise on the first morning of the new millennium. These are pictures from earlier this morning in Tokyo.
New Year's celebrations are continuing today in cities around the world. And the year has dawned with no sign of major computer glitches. Y2K-watchers at the International Cooperation Center in Washington report a comparatively peaceful night. Power companies report a few minor outages, but these usually appear every New Year's.
Boris Yeltsin's decision to quit as Russia's president ended an often tumultuous political career. It was a career that included facing down a coup by Communist leaders in 1991 and the pressure of two wars in Chechnya. Yeltsin was Russia's first democratically elected president. As he left office, Yeltsin named former premier Vladimir Putin as acting president.
HARRIS: And we are getting this word just into the CNN Center. The United States has -- Coast Guard, rather, has picked up some Haitian refugees floating in a boat right off of the coast of Florida near Miami, we understand. A Coast Guard spokesman says the 60-foot wooden freighter was spotted during a routine patrol shortly after midnight in Biscayne Bay.
Officials also say at least 300 people were on board. And this is the first large group of Haitian refugees intercepted off the coast of the U.S. since October of 1998, when some 484 were picked up. And officials are estimating that this group may have been out there floating for some four to seven days to make it to the U.S.
McEDWARDS: And we're coming right back here on CNN. A look at the impact of the Internet on our lives coming up.
HARRIS: Stay with us.
HARRIS: We live in an avalanche of information, arriving faster and faster all the time. Imagine having access to the world's libraries, art, and movies all in your own home. That's broadband. You could think of it as raising the speed limit on the information highway.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARRY McCRACKEN, "PC WORLD" TECHNOLOGY EDITOR: Five years from now, there should be a lot of exciting things we can't even imagine yet. And anybody who thinks they're sure where broadband is going, they're probably wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: Information is power, and one of the most powerful people of the information age joins us live, Esther Dyson. Let's explore the wired world.
Now, for much of the world, this century will bring with it a revolution in the volume of information available and at the speed in which we can access it.
MCEDWARDS: All thanks to a phenomenon hardly known a generation ago, the Internet.
Esther Dyson is a leading authority on the emerging information technology, and she speaks around the world on computer culture.
HARRIS: That's right, and Esther Dyson is with us here in Atlanta in our studios. And we'll give you a chance to plug the book as well.
ESTHER DYSON, INTERNET GURU: Thank you.
HARRIS: Here's a shot of her book. There you go. "Release 2.0" is the name of the book.
I must say, you're the kind of guest that drives me nuts. I have no idea where to start with you. There's so much to talk about when it comes up with this -- when it comes to this particular topic.
But let me ask you this to begin with. The Internet, nobody knew it would be what it is today some five years ago. So where would you put it in terms of how it's matured and how we use it? Is it still a new technology? Is it a mature one? Is it middle-aged? What?
DYSON: It's just right at the beginning, but it's exactly -- I'm sorry, I've got this thing in my ear that's talking about golf.
HARRIS: Oh, fine, go ahead, take that -- you won't need that anyway, just go ahead and take that out.
DYSON: OK. The Internet is right at the beginning. In the United States, you have a lot of people familiar with it. They -- a lot of them use it, some of them hear about it on TV. But in the rest of the world, half the population hasn't even made a phone call. So it's not as if it's taken over. But in terms of where we're thinking, in terms of seeing where the world is going, the Internet is -- it's here already, and it's starting -- you know, maybe it (inaudible) only 5 percent of something is bought online, but it already starts to affect the prices of things bought offline.
HARRIS: Well, expand on that. Because we're now looking to -- we spent the last couple of hours looking backwards at the -- at this past millennium. Take us to where you think the Internet is going to go in the years to come, and how long it's going to take us to get there.
DYSON: Yes. Well, what's interesting isn't the Internet, it's the people on it. And what is, I believe, going to happen, if people rise to the challenge and if they use this tool -- it's a tool, it's not a gift, it's not a thing to have, it's a thing to use. They're going to have more choices. They're going to be able to find out better schools for their kids, they're going to be able to find out better places to work.
It's not just about buying products, it's about knowledge about the world at large. They're going to be able to keep in touch with their families even when they travel. And so in the old days, you know, you grew up in a village, you married the girl next door, you worked for the employer in town.
And whether you had a good or a bad life, it wasn't really your responsibility.
What the Internet brings us is more choice, but it also brings us more responsibility for the consequences. So in some way it's going to make people have to grow up. If you have a crummy job, you know, you can't just complain, because there are other jobs out there you could go look for. Or you could go start your own company.
One interesting thing about the Net is, people say, Well, you know, it doesn't have this, you can't find things, there's no site for people whose cats have feline hip dysplasia. And if something's missing, go start it.
So the Internet...
HARRIS: It's just sort of a wild, wild West out there right now.
DYSON: Yes, it is. And I like that, actually.
HARRIS: You like that. OK.
McEDWARDS: And as the -- this thirst for that kind of information, e-commerce, e-mail, all of the things you've been talking about, as the thirst for that grows, there's really another buzz word out there, and that word is "broadband." Our technology correspondent, Rick Lockridge, tells us more about that.
LOCKRIDGE (voice-over): This is what the future looks like, a CEO pedals to work on a beat-up old bike because technology has freed him to set up his office in a small town.
A mother searches for a Saturday night sitter on the neighborhood home page.
A student orders up his own videos while taking notes and browsing the Web, all at the same time.
ROB WIGHT, BROADBAND USER: I think we live in the world that a lot of people are going to live in very soon.
LOCKRIDGE: How do we get there? Broadband.
McCRACKEN: Broadband is going to completely change the Web experience over the next few years. You're going to see full-screen video, you're going to have high-quality audio, you're going to make phone calls over the Web. And the fact access that broadband provides is what makes this all possible.
LOCKRIDGE: Right now, most of the world's 259 million Internet users dial in at speeds so slow that it takes an average 4 to 10 seconds to load each page. For them, the fountain of knowledge that is the Web is still running at just a trickle.
Broadband promises to turn that trickle into a torrent, with connections 50 to 1,000 times faster than you can get with a 56K modem.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, TV COMMERCIAL)
ACTOR: Got entertainment?
ACTRESS: All rooms have every movie ever made in every language any time, day or night.
ACTOR: How is that possible?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LOCKRIDGE: It's possible because of the worldwide wiring upgrade under way right now, which will bring us into the age of broadband.
(on camera): This fiberoptic cable can carry 80 gigabits of information per second. That's enough to transmit 16,000 channels of digital TV, send 200 million e-mails in one second, or, in an instant, transmit the entire contents of this 2,500-page phone book across an ocean 640 times.
(voice-over): Once you're hooked up to that kind of bandwidth, you'll no longer have to watch whatever's on. You'll decide what's on. BOB ANNUNZIATA, GLOBAL CROSSING, LTD.: You press that button on your computer, and you want to see it now. You can only do it with broadband.
LOCKRIDGE: Stonehenge, 4,000 years ago the Druids built this ring of stones, their conduit to the heavens. Here in that same English meadow, a crew lays in a segment of the new World Wide Web, a web of glass fiber and copper cable, the broadband Web, our conduit to each other.
ANNUNZIATA: Our lives are truly changed today, but it's going to be even greater in the future, because more and more, our capabilities are coming from the Internet.
LOCKRIDGE: But the future is sometimes slow to arrive. Only about 2.5 million U.S. homes currently have a broadband connection, 1.3 million of those are connected by cable modems, most of the rest use a telephone technology called digital subscriber line, or DSL.
NASA ANNOUNCER: We have ignition and liftoff of...
LOCKRIDGE: Broadband penetration is expected to shoot up to 18 million or more U.S. households by 2003. But unless wireless broadband projects, like the vaunted Teledesic satellite venture, get off the ground -- and that's still a big if -- "PC World"'s Harry McCracken says broadband access will not be available to everyone who wants it.
McCRACKEN: So there are certainly going to be people who are interested and simply not able to afford it, and there'll be people who are interested and can't get it because it's not available at all where they live.
LOCKRIDGE: And then there's the issue of security. Broadband is not only your portal out into the world, it's potentially a hacker's portal into your world.
McCRACKEN: People should definitely be worried about security. Your connection is always on, so you might not be home, and people can peek into your PC if they know what they're doing.
LOCKRIDGE: But when a community is fully broadband-wired, interesting things start to happen. This is Celebration, Florida, population 3,000, a picture-book town conceived by Walt Disney as an experiment in old values and new technology.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALT DISNEY: In fact, the heart of everything we'll be doing in Disney World will be our experimental prototype city of Gomorra.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LOCKRIDGE: To make Celebration a true community of tomorrow, Disney's successors knew the town would have to be wired to the hilt, the homes, the school, the hotel, the hospital, even the shops downtown.
PERRY READER, THE CELEBRATION COMPANY: Technology brings people together, and in order to bring people together to work on common things and get to know each other, the technology is very important.
LOCKRIDGE: Although families in this Disney town can and do socialize on their conspicuous front porches, they can also connect via the neighborhood intranet, which just happens to be called The Front Porch.
STUDENT: And that's a real good site.
LOCKRIDGE: Students at the Celebration school are accomplished speed surfers, thanks to the school's 1,800 broadband Internet ports.
JACKIE FLANIGAN, CELEBRATION SCHOOL TEACHER: Speed matters. These kids are used to that, and they -- everything for them is fast forward.
JONNY BATES, SEVENTH GRADER: We have so much more opportunity to get other research and see what other classes are doing.
LOCKRIDGE: Because a broadband connection is always on -- there's no dialing in -- those who have it say they feel more connected. Risa Wight says that helps her feel more at ease when her special needs child, Alex, who has Down syndrome, is at school or out playing at a friend's house.
RISA WIGHT, BROADBAND USER: With his aide at school, I can be talking to her via e-mail about how his day is going, if he's having a good day or a bad day. It's made such a difference in our lives.
WIGHT: It's the action that they took...
LOCKRIDGE: Risa's husband, Rob, runs an Internet startup company. He's the one with the bike. Because his home is just as wired as his office in Celebration, you're just as likely to find him working one place as the other.
As a result, he gets to spend more time with his family, more time doing the things he wants to do.
WIGHT: I've lost the ability to really know what it's like to not live in an environment like this. I couldn't imagine not living where you had all of this.
LOCKRIDGE (on camera): Sure, this is a bit of a vanity land. Where else does it snow promptly at 7 P.M. on a 75-degree night? But the high-speed connections running through this community are very real. You can look around here and see the future coming.
McCRACKEN: About five years from now, there should be a lot of exciting things we can't even imagine yet, and anybody who thinks they're sure where broadband is going is probably wrong.
LOCKRIDGE (voice-over): Rick Lockridge, CNN, Celebration, Florida.
McEDWARDS: And where broadband's going, where the Internet is going, our conversation with Esther Dyson and our look at the wired world continues in just a moment. Stay with us.
HARRIS: Welcome back.
The Internet and the future. We're speaking this morning with Esther Dyson, Internet visionary and Internet goddess, who knows everything about this.
Now, let's get into one of the things that we've been noticing happen as the world has evolved technologically. We've got a world of haves and have-nots, we've got people around the world -- half of the world has never even seen it or don't even use a telephone. And yet we've got this explosion of use of the Internet and things -- and Internet services and technological services.
Aren't we really creating here a -- really two planets on this one??
DYSON: We're not creating it, we're just finding a new thing for people to have and other people not to have. But the difference with the Net is it's actually more benign than that, because it is a tool for elevating yourself.
It's a tool for nonprofits to go help out in Africa and manage the delivery of health care and medicines. It's a tool for people to get educated in China. It's a tool for all the people I know in Russia to sell their programming services in the West, so then they get money and they spend it locally in Russia.
So it's -- you're not going to solve this have-have-not problem. You should worry about it, and you should use the Internet to help fix it. But you should never -- we'll always have a world of have and have-nots. It's just going to be different things that are going to divide people.
McEDWARDS: There are people who also talk about technology, though, as being isolating, and that the Internet is kind of leading to this world where a point and a click replaces a trip to the bookstore or an enrollment course at a college, for example.
I mean, what -- is there a downside there?
DYSON: Well, a point and a click also lets you write to your boyfriend. It lets my mother keep in touch with her family in Germany. It lets a kid keep in touch with people he meets at camp. So it works two ways. I mean, again, it's a tool for doing what you would do. If you want to isolate yourself, it's a lot easier with the Internet. You can sit in the room all day.
But if you want to get out and meet people, if you want to communicate and keep in touch with people, you can do it too.
McEDWARDS: Is it changing the way we think, though, as human beings, the way we perceive communication and what's do-able and what's appropriate and what's satisfying to us as humans?
HARRIS: Exactly. And on that note, what are the kids who are around today going to come to expect, is -- in terms of how we think and how they think in the years to come?
DYSON: Well, that -- I mean, it's great, kids can go out and get information. But I do think parents especially need to be concerned that you get this follow a link, follow a link, follow a link, and you know things are related, but you don't know how.
And so you can go to the Web, you can see a video of Churchill or Martin Luther King, and so you get the texture, you know what the people look like. But you don't know what was their role in history, what happened because of them.
And so having...
HARRIS: Well, does lack of perspective (inaudible)?
DYSON: Yes, I mean, there's no cause and effect. Having a bunch of images in your head is not the same as seeing the structure, understanding what led to what. And I think television and the Internet both lead to that danger. And so what you want to do as a parent is tell your kids, Do you understand how these are related? Do you understand what's on this site? Are they trying to tell you something? Or are they trying to sell you something?
And, you know, there's nothing...
HARRIS: And there's a lot of that out there.
DYSON: Yes. And try going to some sites that are not trying to sell you something. There's lots of people with incredibly wonderful sites that -- you know, in honor of their cat or somebody interested in Egyptology or maybe somebody's a specialist on lizards or -- you know, the city of Boston, history. There's amazing stuff out there, and a lot of it is not for profit.
HARRIS: What do -- let me ask you about one of the other downsides. And I don't want to come off like I'm a...
DYSON: That's OK.
HARRIS: ... you know, a negative on the Internet, because I happen to use it quite a bit myself. But one of the things that we've been observing, and we -- this first came up with television -- was this thing about how people's attention spans have been shortening and shortening and shortening.
Now children are beginning -- they're starting out at a level where their attention spans to begin with are shorter than ours have ever been. And we're heading into a place now where we're going into -- I guess it seems like we're heading in that direction even more so.
Do you see that as a good thing, bad thing, something we should address, or what?
DYSON: I think it's terrible, and I don't think it's something you can solve in a big way. You need to solve it with each individual kid. And what you do is, first of all, encourage kids to develop their own Web site, not simply to go passively through other people's.
You know, the task of building your own Web site, selecting images, creating a story, that's the kind of thing you want to involve the kid in. Have him be creative instead of just wandering through this stuff.
McEDWARDS: Esther, how did we get here? I mean, the Internet started out as a tool for academics, really. I mean, how did it get to where it is now?
DYSON: Well, there's a long history. The short version is, in the early '90s, they had this thing called the Acceptable Use policy, which said, This is only for researchers, and, yes, we'll let in a few commercial company researchers, but only universities and researchers. And then people said, Well, why can't we use it just for any kind of communication?
And so they changed the acceptable use policy. And then the more forward-thinking people said, Wow, this is really cool. Then Tim Berners-Leigh (ph) came and created the World Wide Web, so it wasn't simply these kind of dry computer files, but you could surf through information, you could go from one place to another.
And, I mean, the great thing about businesses, they are creative. They see something and they figure out, Well, how can I use this?
HARRIS: (inaudible) on that note, then, how will businesses use the Internet? Or how will the Internet use businesses in the years to come?
DYSON: Well, first of all, businesses are going to have to understand that you got to do more than just sell. It's as if marriage were just sex. There's actually...
HARRIS: Well, there's some who wouldn't argue with that.
DYSON: Well, there's communication, there's working together, and in the same way, doing business over the Net, there's customer support. One big thing after Christmas is going to be all these returns, people who don't like what they got online trying to get it sent back.
And so it's two-way communication, it's not simply sell them and go away.
McEDWARDS: Hold that thought, Esther, we have to take a short break here. But our conversation with Esther Dyson continues in just a moment. Stay with CNN. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
HARRIS: Welcome back, as we continue our conversation now with Internet guru Esther Dyson. She heads a company known as Adventure Holdings. It's a small but diversified company, and it's doing quite well.
And on that note, let's talk, if we can, briefly, about some of these companies that are trading on the Internet, the Internet stocks and technology stocks and all.
They've been on an incredible run, and I -- do you think this can be sustained? Do you think this makes sense here at all?
DYSON: Actually, no. I'm a big believer in the Internet, and I think the Internet is great. And it's going to be great for employees, it's going to be great for consumers. But it's going to be really tough for businesses.
There are some really good Internet businesses out there, but there's awful -- there's a lot of trash as well. Now, suppose you have a business Web site. You're competing with guys coming into business who are giving it away to get attention. You're competing with guys going out of business who are giving it away to try and salvage what they can.
And you're trying to run a sustainable business. Pricing is going to be incredibly competitive. So businesses are going to try to differentiate themselves. But everything can be copied and duplicated. The only way to really differentiate yourself is with people, so that's why you see these celebrity endorsers. You're going to see more customer service. But it's going to be a very, very competitive market. It's going to be really tough to make a profit.
And it's going to be great to be an employee. You get more equity...
HARRIS: Well, (inaudible) making profits now.
McEDWARDS: Yes, well, a lot of people are getting rich, trying, now, though, aren't they?
DYSON: Yes. And they're getting huge amounts of VC, and it's absolutely great, and everybody thinks that they're a genius because they were lucky. But it is not sustainable. One day, the good ones are going to be separated from the bad ones, and the good ones are probably going to suffer a little too when the magic disappears.
McEDWARDS: So (inaudible) if you think of this as an industry, is the Internet at a stage that we've seen other industries at? Oil and gas, let's take, for example. Years ago, there were, you know, hundreds of oil and gas companies. Now there are very few.
DYSON: Well, you see, I don't really think there's going to be an Internet industry. There's going to be the infrastructure providers. But beyond that, every business is going to be on the Web. I mean, we don't really talk about telephone-based businesses. We just assume you're using the telephone in your business. And in the same way, every business is going to be using the Internet to communicate with customers, to communicate with suppliers.
Right now in Russia, there's a big excitement, believe it or not, about e-business. But why not? If you've got a business, it ought to be e, because if you're not using the Internet, you're not using modern tools.
HARRIS: Well, since you bring up Russia, let me ask you that. Which country do you think is going to take the lead? We've been seeing and reading quite a bit in the press about Scandinavian countries, for instance Finland, and some of the technology they're using and taking for granted right now are things that are just now being introduced here in the U.S.
Where do you think the lead is -- who's going to take the lead there?
DYSON: Well, first of all, it doesn't matter what country you're in as much. It's more who you are, precisely because the Net is international. Finland gets a lot of play because more people use cell phones than anywhere. But the fact is, you see more entrepreneurs and Net startups in Sweden, where -- which has, like the U.S., a large, fairly rich consumer population that's online, in the U.K., which has had a lively venture capital community.
And those two countries are kind of -- you know, then it's spreading south and east from Sweden and the U.K. Overall, Europe is way ahead in wireless, and if you think about it, wireless is a much nicer way to get to the Internet. It's small...
HARRIS: It's more convenient.
DYSON: Yes, it's user friendly. You can take it with you on the -- in the car, you can take it with you shopping. And so there's a service in Sweden called Price Runner, where you can take your wireless shopping and compare the prices of physical stores. So if you're in, I don't know, Toriad (ph) or something, you can see what they're charging next door in C&H or something.
HARRIS: Well, is that wireless the next big thing, or is there a big thing after that?
DYSON: Well, there's biotech, but that's not my field. Wireless is -- wireless, long with broadband, are the big things that are happening. But again, I think the real change is going to be businesses realizing they need to have more people. It's people- intensive.
HARRIS: Back to people, then.
DYSON: You know, the retail sales people in the physical stores, they don't disappear. They go online to Web -- to e-mail centers, to call centers. And the stores get replaced by warehouses and trucks. I think another thing people are really missing is the counterpoint to -- we've created this virtual world, but we still need the physical logistics to deliver the goods, to take the returns, that kind of stuff.
HARRIS: All right. Esther Dyson, we really appreciate your expertise again. We've got about 10,000 more questions that we need to ask you, but we just don't have the time.
McEDWARDS: Interesting stuff, thank you.
DYSON: Thank you very much.
HARRIS: (inaudible), thank -- all right.
Now, if you have any questions for Esther Dyson, she's going to take part in an online chat on the future of the Internet at cnn.com. It comes up tomorrow, Sunday, at 3 P.M. U.S., Eastern Standard Time, correct?
DYSON: That's right.
HARRIS: And you're going to be there for how long?
DYSON: I'll be there for half an hour.
HARRIS: Half an hour.
DYSON: In my office, typing away.
HARRIS: All right, good deal. We'll meet you there.
HARRIS: All right.
McEDWARDS: That's at cnn.com.
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