About 30 years ago, when I first got involved with the Net (Usenet; thanks to
USF and Spaf for the link, and Larry Strickland at SPJC for servers), one of
the topics that everyone loved to rant about were supposed plans from the
Neilsen Companies to put cameras on set top boxes and use them to get better
data about how many people were watching TV.
There was the expected public meltdown, as the word got 'round -- even given
how impractical it would have been to implement with that day's tech -- and I was,
frankly surprised that it didn't recur when Microsoft started putting cameras
atop videogame consoles, in our much better connected world.
In light of the Snowden fracas, it has now, finally, recurred:
This is another example, I think, of a thing that only a very small number
of people have thought proactively about over the years, but that I think
network engineering people ought to be at the forefront of that group:
I call it capability creep, by analogy to scope creep; it's the situation
where because of changes in technologies only peripherally related to your
own, yours suddenly acquires previously unexpected capabilities, for either
good or evil.
Ours -- high speed, pervasive, networking -- is probably the most common
enabling technology which has this effect, and while we can't exactly just
shut the routers off and go home, and while people spend a whole lot of time
ignoring us on such topics (I can't count the toldjaso's from the last 3
decades), I still think it's a topic we ought to focus purposeful thinking
on as we go about our lives of planning and executing the next generation
of networks. And the next. And the next.