MIT 2000 Last Lecture on Internet

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Media, Information and Technoculture
Media, Information and Technoculture 2000F/G
Daniel Robinson

MIT 2000 Lecture on Internet December 6, 2011 - The idea behind the internet isn’t new at all, it’s a goal that’s been around for hundreds of years. The goal to make the worlds store of knowledge accessible to everyone - Slide 2: Theoretical Predecessors - Internet was referred to as an informational tool - “Information Superhighway” - The first theoretical predecessors were encyclopedias, things that make knowledge available to everyone. The first one was Cyclopaedia in 1728; record all scientific information in a book. - Then a french version came around called Encyclopedie by Denis Diderot. It became the world’s first great encyclopedia - Encyclopedia Britanica came around in 1768, modeled on the French encyclopedia. - These systems had the idea of bringing revolutionary reform by organizing information and making it available to everyone; it wasn’t just the elites who could access information. Age of Enlightenment products - Political tools as much as informational, since knowledge is power - Slide 3: World Encyclopedia/Brain - Idea of making knowledge available to everyone inspired H.G. Wells. He wrote a series of essays at beginning of 20th century on “the world brain”. He was encouraged in this idea by the explosion of information that occurred between the world wars. - During his lifetime he saw stores of knowledge double. The mass of information required people to start specializing in fields that wasn’t necessary before (you couldn’t focus on just arts or science, you had to pick one) - Areas of specialization were a byproduct of the amount of information we have now - World Brain was a 20th century version of the 18th century encyclopedias, but there was a difference: “mental clearing house for the mind, depot where ideas are sorted, received, digested, compared…encyclopedia doesn’t have to be concentrated in one place, it can be networked” - he imagined a network store of information that everyone could access and add to - He’s theorized that microfilm would be necessary to store all the data that would go into the world brain, and there would have to be people perfecting and indexing the data. he’s imagining Wikipedia basically - Wells tried to pitch the idea to publishers, but didn’t gain interest because of cost. - He’s dead, but his idea isn’t - Slide 4: The Memex - Vannevar Bush was a professor at MIT, scientist and inventor, scientific advisor to President - Made a lot of money setting up a company that produced better tubes for radios (?) - Invented microwave radar systems used in war time - He also came up with the idea of a MEMEX. Information storage and retrieval machine conceived of before WWII. Remarkably similar to World Brain that Wells came up with - It would have capability to hold a university’s entire library on microfilm - It would hold all of this information, but it would be a ‘proto hyper text device’ a user could insert a comment of their own, insert their own links, and build a maze of their interests. He’s describing the way that web pages work now. Following links to further interests, searching based on interests, inserting comments of our own. He inadvertently describing how hypertext will work - Slide 5: Memex Diagram - Bush laid out his ideas in a magazine. In 20 years after the article appeared, Bush tried to make the device, but the technology just wasn’t there yet. So he knew that the emerging field of computers would somehow be involved. - Slide 6: Pre-Internet Technological Developments - There were developments in computers after WWII and through the 1980’s that were necessary for the Internet to be developed. - ENIAC which was the first general purpose computer came around in 1946 and UNIVAC (commercial one) in 1951 - Development of microprocessor in 1971 was invented by Ted Hoff of Intel. It’s a computer on a chip, allowed for much smaller electronic devices, much more powerful, and much cheaper. - Sold so well, Bill Gates and Paul Alan, decided to join the company. Altair (1975) became the Apple 1 and 2 created by Jobs and Wozniak of Apple Computers (MAC) - In addition to these computing advancements, you also needed advancements in communications. Packet switching communication tech. were proposed by Baron in 1960. It’s a communication design where packets (small blocks are data) are routed between nodes, to other links, and shared with traffic. Instead of having a dedicated line for information, parts are transmitted around and assembled once it gets to its destination. Also didn’t have to worry about one line being severed; if it was, the info would find another route to get to its end point (advantage) - Without packet switching you would have to have a physical wire between each computer in a network. Obscene amount of wire, would be very hard to maintain, hard to repair. Packet switching made it easier for computers to talk to each other. - TCP/IP as a standard needed to be established for internet to happen also - allows computers within one network to talk to each other, the IP allows computers in different networks to talk to each other, and TCP makes sure these computers can share information without any problems. - Each individual connection had to be programmed to a network. TCP/IP made this way easier. -The modern Internet is born out of romantic notion, a series of tech. developments, references to sharing/networking, and desire to unite computer networks into a single system (IMPORTANT) - telephone wouldn’t have become what it did if you could only call people who used the same network (eg. Rogers) as you. Same with internet - Slide 7: Arpanet - First iteration of the modern internet idea - ARPANET is part of US defence dept. research projects agency - After launch of Sputnik, Americans were anxious to not have communists kill them anymore, so they put in place initiatives to protect themselves - False Tolerance Computer Network: Communication system that would survive nuclear war. - In 1962 Licklider was primary leader of this project, had read Bush’s MEMEX idea, and been familiar with packet switching. He decided to have a series of geographically distributed computers all across the network that used packet switching. This was put into practice and called Arpanet. - Idea of all power communications network that could withstand any natural/manmade disaster - Arpanet worked like old telegraph systems; major telegraph centers in major cities and smaller offices in smaller towns. If someone wanted to send message in Pennsylvania to small town, that message would be wired from the office in Pittsburgh to major centers all across the country until it got to its endpoint. packet switching works the same way except instead of having major hubs, there are servers, and it is automated, and it is a lot faster - 2 major advantages: made the network strong, and allowed for efficient use of data mines. Multiple users could use a single line at the same time. Packet switching had tons of advantages for Arpanet and made it successfu - First went online in 1969 and consisted of 4 networks: UCLA, Stanford, University Santa Barbara, Utah University - most code was written by grad students which led to distinctive anarchic culture. Sense of anarchy present on internet. - Growth of internet was limited because of the nodes. 45 by 1973 and 100 in 1977. - Idea of explosive computer network didn’t really pan out. - Slide 8: A “Network of Networks” - Found that they could socialize over Arpanet. Online science fiction fan clubs were immensely popular on Arpanet. THere was so much social traffic that the original Arpanet was split into 2 networks: arpanet for university researchers and MILNET which was for the military - Eventually those 2 networks split again, and subnetworks formed. CSNET for computer scientists, etc. - All of these used the original Arpanet network as their backbone - These networks were somewhat independent though - ARPA-INTERNET to INTERNET - Internet was made public by giving it to private corporations (Bell Rogers) - Slide 9: E-mail - Social tool invented by Ray Tomlinson, first ever email address ([email protected]
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