Okay, I usually like Cringely’s stuff. He has an interesting point of view, most of the time. I’ve enjoyed reading him for years, back when he actually wrote the column in Infoworld that has his name on it.
He’s off his rocker this time, though. He’s taking on the telcos and telling them that they’re all wrong to dump circuit-switched networks for packet-switched IP networks. That’s not entirely an unreasonable stance to take, although it’s probably wrong. The weird part is what he suggests that they do with their aging network, designed to deliver data in 64 kbps streams:
What we need to emulate here is the eye, itself. Look at the optic nerve that connects the retina of your eye to the visual cortex of your brain. The optic nerve is composed of approximately one million stringy cells called ganglia that fire in parallel over a distance of two to three centimeters with the actual visual signal travelling at about 4,400 feet-per-second. Taking into account recovery time between signals, the optic nerve has a total bandwidth of approximately 100 kbps.
All an SBC or Verizon has to do is … a crash program in understanding the physiology of eyesight and emulating it in silicon. After all, what is our retina but a video encoder, our optic nerve but a network, and our visual cortex but a video decoder? Come up with a new encoding/decoding process, a new storage process (stored in compressed form this video would be vastly more compact than anything today – you could put 100-plus movies on a DVD), and build it all into an appliance packed full of DSPs and priced like a video game console.
Right. What he suggests the telcos do is dump a bunch of cash into finding ways to stream 64 kbps video directly into the optic nerve, and that this is a better investment for them then building new networks. Riiight.