Am I the only one who thought the Internet was a late 20th century invention??
This week, our professor asked us to read various texts on the history of the Internet. I’ve learned that the whole concept of the Internet actually began back in 1962. Of course, it wasn’t called the Internet at the time; it was a “Galactic Network” concept created by J. C. R. Licklider of MIT (Leiner et. al. 1). In his many memos, Licklider described the idea of “social interactions that could be enabled through networking” (Leiner et. al. 1). This became the foundation of what we know as the Internet today.
I am a member of Generation X; I grew up with card catalogues and encyclopaedias. If I needed information or if I was conducting research, I asked my teachers or friends or went to the library. Certainly the idea of using a computer to Google my questions was never an option. If I couldn’t find the answer to a query, then I conducted further research or (as it sometimes happened), I gave up. I resigned myself to never knowing the answer. Now, however, I can’t imagine my life without the Internet.
Need to remember the title of a song but you only know a few lyrics? Internet.
Need to get in touch with someone? Internet.
Need to order groceries? Internet.
Need to write an article for an MA course? Definitely Internet.
In “Brief History of the Internet,” the authors describe the Internet as “a collection of communities [as much as] a collection of technologies” (Leiner et. al. 11). I think we tend to forget this; we consider the Internet as one entity, but in reality, it is a combination of many different people, companies, applications, programs, search engines … the list goes on and on. It’s not all butterflies and unicorns, though. Jaron Lanier believes that “[the Internet will soon get] so rich with information that people will be obsolete, either left behind like the characters in Rapture novels or subsumed into some cyber-superhuman something” (Lanier 27).
It may seem laughable to us now, but I wonder if there is some truth to what he says …
Barry M. Leiner, Vinton G. Cerf, David D. Clark, Robert E. Kahn, Leonard Kleinrock, Daniel C. Lynch, Jon Postel, Larry G. Roberts, Stephen Wolff, “Brief History of the Internet.”
de Barajas, Aeropuerto. “internet.” Flickr, https://www.flickr.com/photos/miniyo73/.
Lanier, Jaron. “Chapter 2: An Apocalypse of Self-Abdication.” You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto, Vintage Books, New York, NY, 2011, pp. 24–44.