JSU Newswire
Jacksonville, Alabama

WWW Guru Addresses JSU Audience

Abby Knight
JSU News Bureau

JACKSONVILLE -- September 23, 2002 -- Like the literary hero whose last name he shares, Peter Blakeney was not what he appeared. Blakeney spoke before an audience of about 125 Jacksonville State University students, faculty and staff in the auditorium of the Merrill Building.

He joked about his appearance as he took center stage. Dressed in casual dress slacks and a print shirt, he was far from the stereotypical IBM blue suit. As the founder of the IBM Interactive Design Studio, he is considered one of the pioneers of the Internet and what it is today.

As a result of the 2000 census, the U.S. Census Bureau was able to determine that two in five households have access to the Internet, which is 42 percent of the population. This figure is up from 26 percent in 1998 and 18 percent in 1997.

Blakeney’s presentation could have been titled “The Future Ain’t What it Used to Be”; he made reference to Yogi Berra quote often. He discussed how far, fast and furious technology has come and predicted that it will only go farther and faster.

“Has anyone bought a singing birthday card or greeting card?” he asked the audience. “Do you realize that that chip has more power then the first computer that was introduced in the 1950’s and we GIVE it AWAY? We throw it away!"

Blakeney showed the audience statistics from the U.S. Department of Commerce that showed that the Internet, PDAs and cell phones have been the most rapidly adapted technologies in the last 100 years. Their penetration into the population were faster then even the telephone, electricity or air travel.

Blakeney began as a salesman for IBM and worked his way up and through the organization. Eventually he was asked to develop and direct a multi-media shop. What began as 15 people in a rat's maze of cubicles grew into 450 employees with offices around the world. In the early years of the Internet, the studio designed sites for the NHL, as well as other globally known companies.

“Much of the Internet, the focus of it has been through the IT offices, the technologists, “ explained Blakeney. He believes the most successful sites are user-oriented. Web sites should be designed so that users can instinctively know how to navigate the site.

He also took time to talk about his personal pet projects: adult illiteracy. “I was stunned to find out how many adults are functioning in the world today who are functionally illiterate.”

“ I had one man who was in his 50’s tell me that I wouldn’t believe how many bad specials of the day he had ordered for lunch because he couldn’t read the menu.”


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