In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, "business as usual" often seems trivial, even petty. But life must go on.
Here in New York City, where Ziff Davis Media has its headquarters, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani counseled that the best way to help heal the city was to return as soon as possible to work - and to whatever semblance of normalcy can be had in a metropolitan area grieving for the almost 6,000 family members, friends and colleagues buried in the rubble.
So today, after publishing two consecutive issues dealing with the attacks impact on the security of our networks and infrastructure, we return to Interactive Weeks normal editorial calendar, knowing full well that in many ways, nothing will ever be the same.
In a way, its fitting that we resume our normal schedule with our annual "Future of the Net" issue. In our crystal ball, youll discover a wisp of a dark cloud here and there, but for the most part it glows with optimism as light and refreshing as the whimsical drawings that illustrate the issue. And with good reason. Despite the burst of the dot-com bubble, the crumbling of the telecommunications industry and, now, the threat of invisible attackers, the Internet boasts - to paraphrase songwriter Pat MacDonald - a "future so bright I gotta wear shades."
As our writers interviewed everyone from young children to engineers and industry analysts about their expectations for the future, it became clear that most shared a perception of the Internet as a portal to prosperity - a boundless platform for information, commerce, government, work, play and social exchange. Clearly, our global network of networks is about to enter the growth spurt of adolescence. The Internet, once unleashed, is unstoppable.
And yet, that optimism cannot blind us to the fact that since Sept. 11, many things have changed for I-managers and IT professionals. As the smoke and shock dissipate, what emerges is the realization that information warfare has suddenly moved from the realm of possibility to the domain of likelihood - and that we, meanwhile, have been guarding our data with weekend warriors and defending our infrastructures with toy soldiers.
By some estimates, rebuilding after the damages sustained is likely to cost companies in a variety of industries $15 billion or more. But finding the money to reconstruct lost data and damaged networks may prove to be the easiest part. Our readers face a far greater challenge going forward, in steeling our information systems against a future that suddenly looms more perilous than we could have imagined less than four weeks ago.
Naturally, this has been the subject of many conversations among editors, publishers and executives at Ziff Davis. As we see it, the challenges you face can be summarized in seven areas of concern: security, storage and backup, contingency planning, network management, application availability, public policy and corporate policy.
To help you meet those challenges, Interactive Week, beginning with this issue, will be joining our sister business technology publications - CIO Insight, eWeek, The Net Economy, PC Magazine, Smart Partner, Ziff Davis Smart Business and the soon-to-launch Baseline - in an editorial initiative were calling "Mobilizing IT." Because each publication has a unique editorial mission, each will participate in its own way, but the initiative will run across multiple platforms, including our Web sites and a series of free e-seminars offering the views and counsel of experts from each of the seven topic areas.
To help you identify articles that meet your specific needs, weve designed an icon for each of the seven topics. Each story springing from the initiative will carry the appropriate logo, and we will publish a key to those icons in our table of contents. Our online readers will find a topic key on our home page, www.interactiveweek.com. Look for an e-seminar schedule in future issues.
In announcing the Mobilizing IT initiative, Al Perlman, president of our Business Media Group, stated that the best way our publications could respond in this crisis "is to help executives, managers and workers, in as many industries in as many places as possible, protect themselves from an ongoing threat that we are just beginning to learn how to cope with."
Als "we" includes not just editors and publishers at Ziff Davis, but you - our readers. As you struggle to cope with new challenges, share your experiences with us. Let us know what solutions you can share with other readers and what kinds of information or expert advice you need.
Here at Interactive Week, we just describe "The Future of the Net." Youre the folks who are actually building that future, circuit by circuit. Maybe together we can mobilize to achieve the bright tomorrow sketched out in the pages of this issue.
Rob Fixmer is Editor-in-Chief of Interactive Week. He can be reached at [email protected].