On to week two

This week we start looking where the Internet comes from. The class has put together a good collection of readings and summarized them. In addition to that, we’ve read Hafner and Lyon’s Where the Wizards Stay Up Late, Kevin Hughes’ Guide to Cyberspace, Vannevar Bush’s seminal article “As We May Think” and O’Reilly’s Web 2.0 article.

There’s a strong bias in those readings towards the pre-Web Internet and the early Web. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it makes clear that there is a distinction between the web and the internet. That is a core concept and it’s not commonly understood. It also helps in understanding how the internet works, which we’ll be looking at next week.

O’Reilly’s article points out how the web and the internet continue to evolve. “Where it comes from” doesn’t stop in the 90s. Developments in streaming video over the past decade, for example, may profoundly change what the internet is and how it works, according to some of the more dire outlooks on recent FCC decisions. O’Reilly did a follow-up article in 2009 seeing a shift beyond Web 2.0, from web as software to web as services to “the Web is now the world,” an internet of things idea. And that starts to get at where the internet is going, which we’re coming up on in a few weeks.

Our plan for this week, at this point, is to develop a timeline showing where the internet comes from. Timeline JS appears to be a good tool to use. There’s a Help Q&A on the site, along with some basic directions and a link to a tutorial, so it shouldn’t be too difficult. There are a lot of ways to approach this project. Breaking things down by decade is one way. Individuals and organizations might be another focus, technologies – hardware and software – as well. With the research the class has done already, this project should come together pretty easily. But we can still make it intense.

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