MIT 1700 Midterm Notes
Week 1: Origins
Is the Internet a radically new technology? Or is it built on older technologies?
Built on old technologies
o Write letter write email
o Talk on the phone skype
o Read newspaper read online
Convergence = all these different technologies changing into newer form (Internet-
Voice over, phone processes are put onto the internet recently and video screening
Paving the way for the internet: telegraph and railroad, telephone communications,
radio, electricity, television
Direct dialing (video)
What is the Internet?
A network of networks
o Large, different networks in different areas of the world
Socio-technological infrastructure (combination of people, society, and technology)
o Networks, computers, people, content, applications, ect.
In what ways is the Internet different from other information and communication
technologies (ie: radio, telephone, television)?
o Idea of convergence, all these applications coming onto the Internet platform
o Many to many communication happening with the Internet (small group
mediation occurring on a wide scale)
o Television or radio are a one to many form of communication (broadcast,
sense of power)
o Telephone is in general a one to one form of communication
History of the Internet
Development of Internet took place post WW2 (during cold war)
o Sputnick in Soviet advised us to invest in military research and technology
1969 APRPANET US Department of Defense
o Part of military program so government funded it
1978 TCP/IP Protocol developed
o Allows different networks to communicate to creade a wide network
o The information can now be transferred between computers
o Standardization = creates a common language to communicate
o If we didnt have standardization we would have a bunch of small networks
instead of a large network
1990 Tim Berners-Lee and WWW application
o Can now create browsers that have a common content in sharing language
o Allowed content to be shared
1995 until today Private operation of the Internet
1 o Phone companies and Internet service providers control the internet instead
of the government
Principles of the Internet
Decentralized network structure
o If there is a nuclear bomb the network could be shut down
o Done for a certain purpose (military origins though they didnt directly
influence the development, they certainly had an effect for the decentralized
network- if there was an attack on the network, the different nodes would
Distributed computing power through the nodes of the network
o If attack on one still survives
Redundancy of functions
o More people that use the network, more benefit for society in general
Open communication protocols
o Anybody can use them free of charge
Redundancy of functions and decentralization important for national defense
Why is standardization of the network important?
Open and standardized communication protocols important both at data transfer
level (TCP/IP) and content level (WWW application)
Network effect - the more people that use the network, the more important the
network becomes to each user.
What is infrastructure?
o Social and technical constructions
What are some other infrastructures that we rely upon for daily life functioning?
Embedded in other structures, social arrangements, and technologies
Transparent (invisibly support tasks)
Learned as part of membership of a group
Linked with conventions of practice in daily living
Relies on standardization
Builds upon an installed base
Becomes visible upon breakdown
Why is it so important?
o Without Internet, we wouldnt have the openness to be connected data/file
protocols - IP
Internet as Cultural Creation
Product of different cultural foundations
2 o Big Science tied to university systems
o Military Research department of defense, think tanks
o Culture of Freedom countercultural trends that came out of the
environment and said computers lead to e batter society; this idealism
helped shape the development of the Internet
Big Science - primarily large research universities in the U.S. Military Research
Funded through U.S. Department of Defense Culture of Freedom
Utopian ideals about information and technology; doing good computer science;
open standards; open source software; opposition to corporate and business ethics
Grassroots Computing (culture of freedom??)
Open software system
o Software with a code that is open = able to modify and distribute
o Open data and communications standards
o Utopian belief in information and technology for positive social change
o Hacker culture
Information wants to be free!!
Lessons from Internet Development
Cooperation and freedom of information important
o More valuable than competition and privatization
High levels of government and research funding
Creativity and innovation valued
The information super highway
From 1995 onwards, Internet was being taken up as a major technology
o Social, political, economical, cultural,
End of Internet as a Frontier?
Computer as an appliance vs. computer as a tool
o Not open to modification (bad thing or good thing?)
o Ie: iPhone
o Tools can create things with it
Need for greater control and security on the Internet? Why or why not?
o Viruses, spam, ect.
o Downside of openness
o Maybe going too far in one direction to have a completely controlled network
Zittrain selections - Generative Internet vs. Appliancized network
Some Trend to Follow
Encroachment of business interests
Increasing network-based control of user activities
A democratic Internet?
Openness and creativity threatened?