Cybera Summit takes a nostalgic look back

Many of our readers may recall the early days of personal computers '€“ the big boxy machine, the glow of the blue script on a dark screen slowly warming to life, the list of commands you had to memorize to carry out the simplest of tasks. Perhaps you remember the waiting? The endless delays as each command is processed, each connection is sought out and verified. You may have spent hours twiddling your thumbs as the phone-connected modem whirred, beeped and clicked its way to a server login.

You might also recall the excitement of sliding your first floppy disk into the computer drive, knowing you could now store and transport up to 1 or 2 Mb of information!

How far we have come since those heady days…

In the run-up to the Cybera Summit 2011: Data for All —€” Opening Up the Cloud, our YouTube channel is featuring video clips that look back at the beginnings of data storage, networking and the Internet. Seeing a 1980's tech developer displaying a 14-inch laser disc —€” and proudly announcing that nine of them together can store 1.2 Gb of information —€” truly gives you an appreciation for how the tech industry has evolved, and how it will continue to evolve (see clip below).

This year's Summit, being held in Banff, AB, from October 6-7, will focus on open data and cloud computing, and how developments in these areas can be applied to business and academic applications. Cybera will be co-hosting the event with two of its innovative cloud projects —€” the Water and Environmental Hub (WEHUB), and Geospatial Cyberinfrastructure for Environmental Sensing (GeoCENS). Both will offer a look at the current state of open data activities, and where they are heading.

The event will also offer a keynote lecture from well-known open Internet advocate, Tim Wu. A Professor at the Columbia Law School in the USA, Wu is the best-selling author of The Master Switch, which looks at the development and turning points within the information landscape over the past century. He speaks regularly about the need for an Internet free from the domination of corporate interests, and argues for "net neutrality" '€” that is, for all web content to be treated equally by the networks controlling their flow and access. He should add some lively debate to the Summit!