the internet: behind the world wide web

[Originally published related to INF312/STS311]
Below is another reflection for my i312 course. This one concerned a documentary about the origin of the Internet.
The documentary was very informative, detailing the origins of the Internet. The Internet was created by an organic process that found inspiration in random places.
One theme of the documentary was the organic nature of the development of the Internet. For example, e-mail and the World Wide Web were both “killer apps” that were never foreseen by the original scope of the project. The beauty of ARPANET, and now the Internet, was that it only outlined a foundation for other projects to flow across it. New protocols and new technologies can be developed and implemented with little change, if any, to the original network design.
Another theme highlighted by the work was the origin of ideas for this new technology. Between a study of mice influencing the packet to a post office being a model of a node, this “new” network is simply a revolution of current thought. The theories of the distributed network were found outside the new technological world.
Lastly, the most interesting point of reflection while watching the piece was the government interaction. The government, via a $1,000,000 original budget, had set the framework for the network that virtually everyone in the academic community uses everyday. The actual development of the network was organic, without real government interference or guidance. However, even with all of that, an act of Congress was still required to actually make the technology something useful to everyone. The act that allowed public access to the network is probably the most interference the government has ever truly exhibited in the execution of this technology, short of the original charter, and it was the most needed.
Where the Gutenberg printing press was the instrument that ushered in the first “information age”, the old ARPANET (which from my server logs, still operates in some form) was the Gutenberg network of the technological information age. The next question is where this network will will take us from here. Will these same basic technologies guide information sharing for the next 25 or 50 years? Will there be a new ARPANET-style program that equally reforms the way we think about information management? If the organic nature of ARPANET is any indication, it is up to us to figure it out.






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