[Tech] [HCI] 20th century vs. 21st century C&C: the SPUR manifesto


David Patterson, Berkeley professor and ACM's current president, has just written this two-page manifesto called SPUR (which, probably coincidentally, is a name of one of his previous projects).


What we didn't realize, however, was that when you connected your PC to the Web, millions of computers around the world could now access information on your computer, whether you allowed it or not. This insecure concoction leaves us open to computer crime, and potentially even to computer-assisted terrorism or war. Just as business embraced the Web five years ago, criminals are doing so now. In 2004, 1% of U.S. households were victims of successful phishing attacks. According to a recent poll, 17% of businesses received threats of being shut down by denial-of-service (DoS) attacks [2]. Indeed, one company refusing to pay extortion spends $100,000 per year to defend against DoS attacks.


In my view, we have taken ideas from the 1970s and 1980s to their logical extreme, providing remarkably fast and cheap C&C to hundreds of millions of people. But we now are all painfully aware of the drawbacks of 20th century C&C.

Hence, I believe for our new century we need a new manifesto for C&C, and, as is my nature, I offer a four-letter acronym to help us remember it:

  • Security/Privacy: We must protect the security and privacy of C&C users from criminals and terrorists while preventing the Orwellian vision of Big Brother. C&C in the 21st century should be as safe as 20th century banking.

  • Usability: C&C technology must match human abilities of both the operators and the end users. The ratio of cost of ownership versus purchase of 21st century C&C should match cost ratios of 20th century radio.

  • Reliability: We need to create C&C the world can depend upon, since some are already relying on it with technology that doesn't deserve our trust. Indeed, 21st century C&C should be as reliable as 20th century telephony.

To make genuine progress, the "SPUR" manifesto must move ahead of cost-performance in the priorities of 21st century C&C.


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