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Lecture 12

Media, Information and Technoculture 2000F/G Lecture Notes - Lecture 12: Darpa, Altair 8800, Vannevar Bush

Media, Information and Technoculture
Course Code
MIT 2000F/G
Daniel Robinson

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The Internet
Theoretical Predecessors
o This age spans for about 200-300 years
o Worlds first great elopedia
Lots of languages
Volume sets 6-24 volumes
o Enclopedie
Denis Diderot
o Encyclopaedia Britannica (1768)
Knowledge and power
o Scientific and philosophical reasoning is important, less emphasis on God
Serving a broader public good
o Political information
Shaping the balance of power from only elites to mass of people (similar to
World Encyclopaedia/World Brain
HG Wells
o Sci-fi author
Specialized learning
o Generalized learning is no longer important
o Focus on a particular area
o 2 generations before you were expected to be well rounded
20th century encyclopaedia
o learig house for the id
Depot where knowledge and ideas are clarified, sorted, digested, etc
o World Brain
The clearing house constitutes material beginning of the world brain
o Networked
Network management like Wikipedia with more editorial structure
Computerized networks did not exist yet, but Wells liked the idea of networking
where the diffusion was easy
Tried to get support among scientists for probing this idea further
B 9s it ast adaig
The Memex
Even failed ideas can produce success**
Vannevar Bush
o Inventor, scientific advisor and public policy official
Worked with government during WWII
Information storage and retrieval machine
o Microfilm
Bush was interested in this
Putting small pictures on a piece of film
Takes a massive amount of paper and put into a tiny amount of space
Blown up with a microfilm reader
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o Required computer technology
Wells uderstood that this teholog hadt ee ieted et
The Memex II
Ispired  HG Wells World Brai
Push the buttons to get the information you wanted
Device would locate the microfilm reel you want and move you to the part of the actual film
A way to retrieve a lot of stored information on microfilm and also a way to add new
information because on the left the small screen is a scanner
That is where you can scan or photograph your notes, books, etc and then convert it into a
microfilm document and now be part of the library system
You could expand it and take huge amounts of printed text and put it into very small locations
Expand through computer networks to be connected in other ways
Published these ideas in July 1945 in Atlantic monthly magazine
Tried to get support for this device, but the equipment was too expensive and technology
ast up to speed
Computing technology would be very necessary for realizing success on a front like this
Even though its never produced, it becomes part of the folklore of early computer networkers
in terms of bringing information together and making a lot of information available to lots of
ordinary people
Pre-Internet Technological Developments
o General purpose computers
o The microprocessor
Ted Hoff at Intel (1971)
Ed Roberts: Altair 8800
Apple II and Personal Computer (PC) late 1970s and early 1980s
Require a lot of computing processors in small spaces
o Packet switching (decentralized)
Data was transferred over computer wires
Small bits of data go their own way and come back to a destination
More efficient form of data transfer
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