Moore’s Law holds that the power of an integrated circuit will double every two years. That prediction, made in 1965 by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, has proved remarkably durable.
The continued application of Moore’s Law has taken us in a few decades from crude transistor radios to handheld information devices packing more power than entire rooms of mainframe computers that sent the first spaceships to the moon.
And it’s unleashed an unprecedented burst of creativity, as the reach of the Internet allows people from around the globe to exchange information and build on each other’s ideas at dizzying speed.
I was reminded just how far we’ve come when I ran across a 1997 law journal article on trademarks and the Internet in the course of doing a little homework for this blog post.
The article seems impossibly quaint today, explaining the concept of linking from one website to another and using quotation marks to highlight such exotic terms as “homepage,” “hits” and Web “surfers.”
A key issue at the time, according to the authors, was cybersquatting: Internet users claiming rights to domain names that were identical to federally registered trademarks. However, they believed it had been effectively settled by recent court decisions on the topic.
The Internet has no doubt been both a great boon and a tremendous headache for trademark lawyers. On the one hand, it created an entirely new field of practice. On the other hand, I can only imagine the diligence required to regularly police the entire Web for trademark infringement.
We in marketing feel the effect of the Web constantly. Each week, it seems, brings new applications, new sites, new ways of organizing and delivering information on behalf of our clients.
I’m reminded of The Education of Henry Adams, a Pulitzer-winning memoir by the journalist, historian and descendant of two presidents. In his lifetime (1838-1918), Adams saw astonishing change, witnessing the growth of the United States from a largely Anglo-Saxon, insular and agrarian society to a multicultural industrial behemoth and world power.
Adams concluded that his classical education had left him unprepared to cope with these dynamic changes, and stressed the need for individual self-education.
We’re only beginning to see how the Internet will change our world, and anything I write today may look as quaint in a dozen years as the journal article I cited above.
Still, I’m convinced that all of us – trademark attorneys, marketers and virtually everyone else – should heed Adams’ advice.
We all need to take responsibility for our own self-education to keep up with the rapid changes around us. Stand still and you risk being left behind, wondering why nobody is interested in your stories about the latest cybersquatting case.