6Sense: Generating New Possibilities in the New Internet.
Produced by: IPv6 Summit, Inc.

What can you do to promote IPv6? Collect and create v6 success stories
by Alex Lightman
Chairman, US IPv6 Summit 2004

As the publisher of this newsletter, and chairman of the four IPv6 Summits in the US organized over the last two years, I’ve read or viewed over 100 articles and presentations related to IPv6. Something is missing from nearly all of these presentations. Where for goodness sake are stories that the average person, even a tech journalist, can relate to? Features are often covered, benefits less so. Even more rare are success stories related to IPv6. Without success stories, developers don’t envision future customers, and consequently don’t invest time to make related applications or take the risk of trying new things. Since most new products don’t succeed, it takes hundreds, even thousands, of new products or applications to allow the public to “explore the phase space” and end up with a few widespread application successes. Examples are still stories that all the readers of this newsletter can relate to: The Apple II had VisiCalc. The IBM PC had Lotus 1-2-3. The Macintosh had desktop publishing. The iPod has iTunes. The Microsoft X-Box has Halo I and now II. Of course there were and are thousands of different applications for each of these devices (iPod can hold things other than music files), but many applications had to be made and tried out for the leading applications to be selected by Darwinian market forces as “memes” that could spread around the world.
 
The challenge in making IPv6 ubiquitous is that we need, say, 10,000 people to dedicate themselves for a year or two to make new applications, or to port current applications, or to add IPv6 to devices that aren’t usually associated with the Internet (like cars, kitchen appliances, RFID tags, mobile phones, etc.). To motivate an army of developers to drop what they doing and start (awkwardly at first) to make v6 apps these developers will have to have stories that will make them think that there is a potential payoff down the road.
 
An industry doesn’t have to be based on real products or companies in order to have 10,000 people dedicate their lives to it for years, as long as there are good stories. Examples include nanotechnology and staples of science fiction. K. Eric Drexler coined the term “nanotechnology” in the early 1980s, and science fiction writers went to town, starting with Greg Bear’s Blood Music and continuing with what must be hundreds of short stories and dozens of nanotech novels (Ventus and The Diamond Age are among the best) that collectively explored the phase space around nanotech R & D. Fast forward to 2004, and the US government is plowing $500 million a year into nanotechnology, based on stories rather than actual, measurable results. The space industry, the laser industry (Martian death rays were in the Orson Wells’ War of the Worlds radio play), the robot industry, and even the computer industry all had hundreds of stories that sketched the possibilities of the field before the first authentic successes were publicized.
 
How amusing that the movie I, Robot would be the first robot-focused movie to earn over $100 million in the same year (2004) that the company, iRobot, would have its first product to generate over $100 million in a year, the Roomba. If I told you that I was at an event a few weeks ago where Roomba got run over by a Segway and broke, you’d remember that story, perhaps because it sounds likethat song, “Santa got run over by a reindeer.” By creating a few sentences, I got you to think about robots and Segways, which have nothing to do with IPv6, but I don’t have comparable stories that use IPv6, yet, and so IPv6 doesn’t have the mentally resonant frequencies of many other technologies.
 
There are no industries that thrive and grow without success stories, and stories are what IPv6 needs most. Stories are the “limiting factor” for IPv6, yet each person reading this article could come up with a story if he or she sat down for a few hours and thought about it. Just telling a story to another person will actually help the process (a little tiny bit). There are many different themes for success stories that could be related to IPv6 that would greatly benefit our community. Here are few suggestions (all made up, for now) to get you thinking about the sorts of stories that we must eventually have in order for IPv6 to gain popularity and fulfill its potential to tie all six billion people together:
 
Hypothetical story examples for IPv6: Man Is Not Moved by Feature Lectures Alone

  1. Great return on investment: “At Oracle we invested $50,000 to IPv6 enable our database software, and were able to sell millions more to the Dept. of Defense instead of repeatedly asking for waivers.”

  2. Lives saved (1): “After Major Ros Dixon’s company started using IPv6 on all equipment and warfighters, as well as sensornets that enabled Marines to better recognize friend or foe, friendly fire accidents dropped to zero, and the ratio of enemy casualties to coalition casualties has soared in America’s favor.”

  3. Sales growth (1): “Hexago’s revenue from sales of its $35,000 IPv6 tunnel broker doubled from Q1 to Q2 as ISPs all rushed to add IPv6 offerings.”

  4. Credibility increase: “When the Dept. of Defense completed its transition to IPv6 in late 2007, a year ahead of its own target date, it gained the admiration of the US Congress, and received funds allocated by Congress beyond the DoD’s own requests, to build on the new potential for Network-Centric Warfighting.”

  5. Lives saved (2): “By IPv6 enabling ambulances and mobile medical equipment, European Union nations were able to triple the number of people treated before getting to hospitals, and double the lives saved in Golden Hour interventions.”

  6. Sales growth (2): “The Consumer Electronics Association reported that IPv6-enabled products returned because purchasers could not figure out how to configure and begin using them was only 10% of purchases vs. the industry standard 32% return rate.”

  7. Reduced crime: “Electronic fraud complaints have been cut by over 80% per capita for mobile commerce users using phones with IPv6 and mandatory IPSec compared with mobile commerce users using (private) Network Address Translation.”

  8. Better performance: “New customer satisfaction at T-Mobile in Germany has increased from 70% to 85% after IPv6 stacks were added to new phones, doubling their battery life while doubling the average talk minutes as well.”

  9. Government Respect: “Japan’s government has impressed the world by successfully transitioning its entire society to IPv6 years ahead of any other country, and is starting to build on new capabilities in hundreds of industries.”

  10. Public excitement: “Hundreds of new products and public companies that didn’t exist in 2004 are being unleashed to the two billion Internet users, creating energy, publicity, and enthusiasm for the Internet industry that hasn’t been seen since the mid-nineties, when the Internet accounted for 1/3rd to 1/2 of GDP growth.”

In 2005, if the US Congress is smart (and it is), hearings will be held on IPv6 and how the federal government should approach an IPv6 transition, including whether the DoD and OMB should team up and create a plan and a mandate for the entire federal government to transition to IPv6. Those Congressmen and Senators will need to have some pretty compelling stories to support the transition, because reading them the feature specs of IPv6 will bore them to death. Telling Congress about millions of people getting new jobs, millions of transaction costs becoming lower, and future equipment interoperating with other equipment or tools or vehicles will, on the other hand, result in the sort of federal budget support that will be necessary to complete the transition to IPv6 in the US.
 
My suggestion and request to readers of 6Sense is that you keep an eye out for success stories about IPv6 and if and when you come across one, please send it to me. As a way to get the ball rolling, I will be awarding an IPv6 Story of the Month (based on what seems to me to be the best story that will appeal to a broader audience) each month, along with $100, enough to pay for your web hosting and blogging software for a year, so that you can start writing about IPv6 or anything else that is of interest to you. And, please, don’t send me stories about how IPv6 will solve the IPv4 address crisis or other “problem” that only an engineer could love. These stories don’t have the power to move people to dedicate their lives to building new applications, and, at its core, the power of stories comes from their ability to get us to act and to accomplish. Send stories that make you feel. Send stories to alex@usipv6.com. Thank you.