Internet pioneer and current Chairman of ICANN, Vint Cerf, is to move from telecoms firm MCI to Google. His job title is "Chief Internet Evangelist", and he says his language will be "Geek Orthodox". Cerf's role, along with Bob Kahn and many others, in the development of TCP/IP, is, of course, well-known.
This is a fascinating development for what it tells us about Google's strategy. It has already reinvented itself as an Internet services company, and it appears likely to move further in this direction with people like Cerf on board. Cerf's knowledge of the technical building blocks that make the Internet what it is, as well as his role in the controversial ICANN, will give Google all kinds of insider knowledge.
As Cerf says: "What Google has really been doing is building an entirely new infrastructure and whenever you do that, it creates opportunities for new applications".
Back in the dotcom boom, there was much excitement about the 'ASPs' - application service providers. The 'death of the desktop' was declared. What we are seeing now with Google is a move to make a big dent in the desktop operating system concept, by moving a lot of the stuff we do with our computers into a client-server environment. This allows us to access dynamically updated information from many different locations, using many different devices. All of this requires knowledge of how net technology can be shaped through new standards and protocols - Cerf's domain.