Read & Respond – Week 3

This week is all about past AND present. In addition to continuing to refine your blog’s concept, you’ll be learning about where the Internet came from, and where it is (or is not) going with regard to the current SOPA debate. Let’s dive in…

Briggs this week calls his chapter “advanced blogging,” which is right in line with where you should be by now. You’ve got a few posts under your belts, but you’re wondering where to go from here. In keeping with this week’s history theme, he’s got a good section on where blogs came from, including a shout-out to Dan Gillmor, who’s a strong evangelist for rethinking media-audience communication (have a look through his Twitter feed for evidence of the man’s passion for this subject). Briggs offers up some good tips for getting started, as well as providing some useful terminology and audience-building tactics.

You might consider reading this week’s links before Briggs because many of them address the world before social media (these are fairly in-depth, so SKIM). First, there’s this piece from the Internet Society, “A Brief History of the Internet” – it’s a little tech-y, but note the players involved. Likewise, take a glance at these two timelines: How the Internet came to be, and Hobbes’ Internet Timeline (now up-to-date!), which is an EXHAUSTIVE listing of events – don’t try to read the whole thing, but DO use it as a reference.

Now, let your reading muscles relax and watch this video on just where the Internet came from:

With all that context in mind, I want you to turn your mental gaze to the SOPA/PIPA debate we’ve discussed in class. After yesterday’s blackouts, the bills seem to be taking serious hits from what’s been presented as a ground-up, new economy vs. old economy throwdown. Online iconoclast Jaron Lanier, on the other hand, suspects there’s a lot of hooey to these “grassroots” claims (as you’ll see this semester, Lanier thinks there’s a lot of hooey to most things). Based on what you now know about the Internet’s origins, what do you think of how the SOPA debate has progressed?

Is the Internet something invented by an individual? Just where did it come from, and in what forms has it existed? How do its origins inform the things we use it for today (like protesting)?

Remember, your response is due as a comment to this post no later than noon on Monday, Jan. 23.

26 Responses to Read & Respond – Week 3

  1. The idea of a “history” of Internet seems so funny to me. Of course, we learned that the idea was really in the works in 1957, but it still seems new to me. I remember thinking computers and the internet were the same thing and was greatly disappointed to find out computers can exist without the internet. I would use my aunt’s Gateway computer, as my family didn’t have one, to explore the internet. Not every brand had a website at that time, but I remember typing in random brand names (McDonald’s, etc.) to see if they did have their own site. I’d get so excited to find out that did exist or did, too. And when the clock struck midnight on Y2K, I sat on the computer, fixating on the screen, wondering if it would explode right in front of me. Ten-year-olds get excited easily.

    And when Briggs noted that websites in the 90s and early 2000s were far more about design, rather than content, I came to a realization: I grew up with the Internet. During that sparkly-flashy-animated gif toting website era, a 13-year-old is right at home. I had an AOL homepage and numerous Angelfire websites. And that’s why the concept of a “history” of the Internet seems so odd – because I feel like it’s the same age as me. And I don’t feel old. Well, not yet.

    I’m a little disappointed in the “How the Internet Came to Be” link simply because it stopped detailing after 1996, which is where the Internet as I know it came to be. The Hobbes’ timeline is fantastic – I love the viruses of the year. I just happened to see this bit on that timeline: 2001 – Radio stations broadcasting over the Web go silent over actor royalty disputes (10 Apr) Seems quite appropriate considering the recent blackout with SOPA. History repeats itself, no?

    I think what is so scary about the SOPA and why it garnered so much attention is because of the slippery slope that it creates. It’s vague and ambiguous, so it can be open to interpretation, and that means it can be used recklessly by those in power. Limiting free speech, usually, is not something the general public supports. While reading “In Fight Over Piracy Bills, New Economy Rises Against Old,” it’s really amazing to see what power the Internet holds. I don’t think the Internet was ever created to be a hotbed for crime and piracy, but instead a wealth of information, which it still is today. The flaw with this act is that it’s too encompassing to retain those rights while limiting the illegality.

    I think the Internet has been created by groups of people over a period of time. What makes the Internet great is that it’s so diverse and full of information. When the networking came about, and when local companies provided that service to the public (at a charge, of course), it was everything, at a person’s fingertips. That information evolved to communication, which many of us use it for today. And, it has been used for some amazingly effective communication. Without that blackout, I don’t think many people would have realized the potential impact of SOPA.

    • aaaaaargh says:

      It’s really been interesting for me to teach a class focused on online communication because, as you say, the current crop of students grew up with the Internet. Me, I’m part of a 3-4 year window where you were taught to use it in college (any older and they’d lack the technology; younger, and there’d be no need). Likewise, we’re dealing with a different kind of audience, with different expectations, than what many in government and corporations are personally familiar with.

  2. The internet was built on the desire to share and access as much information as possible as quickly as possible. Information drives both the private and the public sector. The military uses information to guide its decision making much in the same way a business owner might: whoever has the best intelligence is often ahead of the game and thus ahead of competitors (or potential threats, as it were).

    Information sharing continues to drive the internet, but it has evolved into something that no one could predict. It has become a haven for creativity, a platform for social revolution, and a world flattener. At the same time, the internet’s potential for evil—in the form of hacking, privacy concerns, and intellectual property theft—has made the internet something of a digital wild west, and that wild west is only getting bigger. This is evident in the Hobbes timeline especially; each entry becomes longer and more complicated, reflecting the growth and increasing complexity of the internet.

    As Lanier points out (and I expected myself to disagree with his thoughts), there is cause to be concerned with how the internet functions. We tend to think of the internet as a place where anyone can make it, but there are a select few major players that are guarding the gates, and the price of entry is our personal information. While I agree with Lanier that these issues are problems, he offers only a vague solution of micropayments for user-generated content. In my opinion, privacy concerns should be addressed, but Facebook is not preventing competition in social media. Twitter, Foursquare, and Pinterest have risen to prominence in a Facebook dominant world. Why? They don’t try to beat Facebook at what Facebook does best. They created their own niche, and though they may not be replacing Facebook, the likes of Pinterest especially have taken traffic away from Facebook.

    At the same time, many of the above sites couldn’t exist in a SOPA/PIPA world. The sharing of information that the internet is built upon would be destroyed, and the digital walls that Lanier fears would only grow taller. Could a start-up like Pinterest afford enough high-power lawyers to stop the MPAA and the RIAA and a slew of other media companies from suing them for facilitating copyright infringement? Probably not, but Facebook almost certain could. Google too has a pretty solid team of lawyers on speed dial, but the fan forums that Lanier loves do not. If we want more competition within the internet, SOPA/PIPA are not the answers.

    The internet should be free. Piracy will never stop. The companies afraid of the internet need to set up shop in the internet wild west and learn how to survive within it.

    For anyone that’s interested, the Pirate Bay released a pretty interesting press release on SOPA. They argued that the Hollywood we know today was actually founded on loose copyright law and grew out of rampant intellectual property theft. This is a link to a mirror of the press release on Reddit (not sure what the University would think of us visiting the Pirate Bay on University computers).

    • aaaaaargh says:

      I’m curious about your expected reaction to Lanier. Had you heard of him before, or was it just my setup that led you to it? I’ll include a few things from him over the semester because I think, in the face of so much gee-whiz enthusiasm, it’s important to have a curmudgeon’s perspective as well.

      So what do you think of the Megaupload situation?

  3. erinfitzi says:

    The Internet, while old as it is, is still mostly unknown to it’s inhabitants. I say this because of it’s vastness and because our generation will know more than our previous generation, even though they were older when the Internet became popular. I remember learning how to type in my keyboarding class and know how to look up something and what AIM was, it’s our parents that don’t understand and appreciate it the way we do. To them, it’s like this vast wealth of knowledge that’s indecipherable. Even looking back, I didn’t know much about it, compared to now, and even then it keeps evolving and changing and I find out something new about it every day.

    Our uses for the Internet may have not changed, because of the balances between practical use (like with the military/education) or with recreational use, (social media/Tumblr/Pinterest/etc.). However, those lines are beginning to become blurred, as Briggs talks about in the chapter. Journalists should have a blog and should follow blogs to develop community, Briggs said. The new age of the Internet is about this community and engaging with each other. But, we’ve done this for years on AIM, but news organizations and journalists have joined the conversation. Social media is our source of news and what we know about the world. Friday night when there was a “gunman” near the WVU campus, I first found out from text, but my coworkers reported using Twitter from a local bar. We had a story up that night that included the information we had found from reporting.

    With an Internet that’s engaging and connecting people in new ways, SOPA challenged the Internet as many knew it now. What is unfortunate was the dramatic actions needed to be taken for people to step and know what it’s about. Although it was effective, the bill could have lost it’s power a long time ago if people and websites were more outspoken. Good thing websites blacked out when they did, otherwise I’m not convinced the legislation would have gone the way of the Dodo. This for sure isn’t the last legislation against piracy, hopefully next time there is more input from the people and won’t implicate creativity and sharing.

    • aaaaaargh says:

      There’s an interesting statement here: “Social media is our source of news.” Think about that (especially as a student journalist), and consider how often social media serves as an ACTUAL source rather than a re-transmitting agent. This might seem overly semantic – after all, FB/Twitter/Reddit/etc is where you personally got your information – but how many of those stories would you have heard without some originating news organization (Okay, I’ll spot you the bin Laden death)? How is our understanding of “source” changing, and is it an accurate one?

  4. Mary Power says:

    It seems like common knowledge that the Internet wasn’t created by just one person. Can you imagine the movies there would be about that individual? But where it comes from feels strange- that something that was government funded and intended for academic use turned into the land of LOLCATS and the tool of government protests.

    I feel like the implications of the internet and what it will grow up to be are so vast that we don’t understand or pretend to today (if we are smart about it.) There is no way that in 1957 they had any idea of the implications of what they were developing. It’s amazing that a government upstart lead to something that grosses billions of dollars, connects millions of people, and provides social encyclopedias. The sheer amount of time and energy spent involving the Internet today would blow the minds of people who had computers that could only perform one task at a time.

    I remember the first computer my family had- it was one that Albany Medical Center was throwing out, and it sat on our dinning room table for a few months. It had this program that allowed you to paint and to bring in preloaded pictures of animals. My brother and I used to fight over who got to play on it, creating goofy pictures of our imaginary zoos for hours. Now kids have the Internet on their iPods. And can probably build interactive zoos or something that would have blown my five-year-old mind.

    Tonight I used Google+ video chat to ‘hangout’ with three of my friends who are in NYC, DC, and Pittsburgh. And in 1969 the letter G of the word ‘LOGIN’ crashed the entire system. That level of advancement in less than 50 years blows my mind.

    Internet radio starts in 1995. That is something amazing to me, with friends who have podcasts, jobs or blogs that are solely Internet based. Their careers didn’t exist twenty years ago.

    That social networking was created in 2004 blows my mind. Thinking of how prevalent in marketing and daily life mediums like Facebook and Twitter are is fascinating especially with the knowledge that they have been around for less than ten years.

    The sheer number of Internet ads on The History of the Internet Timeline is a perfect example of the continuous development of an economy within the internet. Academia is struggling to understand the uses, impact, and damage of something that it was supposed to be in control of; and that’s a powerful story.

    • aaaaaargh says:

      I got a kick out of this: “something that was government funded and intended for academic use turned into the land of LOLCATS and the tool of government protests.” So how do Briggs and SOPA factor in?

  5. Ben Scott
    I found this week’s readings to be very interesting. I think it’s kind of awesome that the internet more or less started because people wanted a way to rapidly share information. While one person sort of started it (J.C.R. Licklider from MIT), I think the internet was really invented by a group; a group that wanted to share ideas, emotions, and overall information with one another. I think this is the main reason why the SOPA ( issue needs to be examined very carefully. I’m all for protecting copyrighted material, but I think SOPA may be trying to go too far. Instead of protecting material it seems that SOPA wants to censor the internet, which in fact seems to contradict the reason it was created in the first place. If something is being censored, then information is being prevented from being freely accessed, which again is what the internet was invented for.

    I also found the video very interesting. I always thought the internet was created by the American military, but now I know that its beginnings were so much more than that. The internet wasn’t only a tool for the military. It was an economic tool for the English and a scientific tool for the French, This early stage of the internet is a good reflection of what it has become, a tool with nearly infinite uses. These uses stretch from things the internet was originally created for (like information sharing) to things that the original creators of the internet never even thought of (like protesting an unjust piece of legislature). While the internet has come far in its many uses, it still holds its original ideas at its core: the internet is meant to be used as a tool so people around the globe can rapidly share information.

  6. It’s something that’s pretty obvious to say, but it’s kind of hard to grasp the concept of the history of the Internet. This is mostly because we really still have no idea of just how far it has come and especially how much more it will progress in the coming years.

    The Internet is something that will continue evolving every day. We’re going to learn more and more about how to use it as time passes and we’ll get better at using it properly.

    It has already come a long way from where it was even around the time I began using it back in the old AOL days. Just look at everything that we can do on it now.

    And because of how much the Internet has changed, journalism has changed forever. Thanks to social media and the use of blogs, journalists are completely different. Journalists now need to find ways to properly use these new mediums on the web because, honestly, if they don’t use them, they fall so far behind. You could be the best writer in the country but without Twitter or a good blog that you update for your audience, you’ll just be behind the writers who might not be as good but make up for it because they know the proper way to use these new things.

    That’s why we as students in this day and age have the chance to make it far in this industry one day. We’ve grown up as Twitter has grown and as blogs have risen to popularity.

    But, I think in order to properly use the Internet, you have to also know the history of it and where it has come from.

    As for, SOPA, the reason it is so dangerous is (like we said in class like week) that it is so vague. With really any use of any kind of licensed material, your site can be shut down completely. That’s just not fair.

    Piracy won’t stop. You just have to find a way to be able to control it moderately I think, and that’s something that SOPA – the way that it was set up – wouldn’t have done.

  7. amarie1025 says:

    From watching the video about the history of the internet and how far it has come from it’s original content that wasn’t even considered the internet at that time, it only angers me as an individual that something like the SOPA could actually take place. For almost 60 years scientists have been working on ways for different users of the internet to do interconnect and SOPA only limits our ways of doing so.
    The internet was definitely not created by just one individual there were many great minds that help build something so involuntarily addicting. To think that its original form could only process one thing at a time blows my mind. Not only do I have internet on my computer, but my phone and within my tiny cellphone my internet connection can hold up so many different pages of information and data, when I really think about it, it blows my mind.
    The things we use the internet for today are obviously different than what it’s original content was made for, but the better the technology got and the more accessible it was only sparked creatvity within people to really start something that wouldn’t be possible if DARPA and the APANET never existed. Although there was a scientific, military, and commericial apporoach to the internet back then I believe that they all hold a big part in what the internet is today. Although through social media/networking it may seem as if the commercial part has taken over, SOPA is just another form of the “military” approach to this in a way. So I ask, why do they want to limit something that part of the government has worked so hard for and has been used for our advantage in a countless number of ways?

    • aaaaaargh says:

      Useful thoughts on SOPA in regard to the origins of the Internet – it certainly does seem to go against what online communication has been so far. Don’t forget to incorporate the week’s Briggs reading into your response.

  8. Anan says:

    When talking about the Internet, most people will say that’s the most incredible invent of this century, while others may always complain the problems it brought to us. Internet was invented for using computers in a community and sharing information with other computers or communities. For most professions, they need to rely on the techniques, especially for journalists. The best thing of social media is that it turns passive media consumers into active users. High-techs as internet make our life and work easier, as it accelerates the creation of the amazing tools for us, like iphone and ipad.

    For Journalists, they must be updated with the new technology, be familiar to know how to apply it to journalism. As Briggs said in the second paragraph of chapter 2 “for professional reporters, blogging helps develop community with readers or viewers so they can test ideas, receive early and direct feed-back and publish or broadcast in the timeliest manner possible.” In other words, the action of “blog” for journalists is the same purpose with the action of “invent the Internet”. We use them both for sharing information and communicating within a certain community. We need the feed-backs and the sources from the community which we belong to.

    So, when considering the origin of Internet into the SOPA vs. PIPA debate, it is clear that SOPA hinders the basic functions of Internet. If we can’t share or use the information on the Internet easily, do we still need to use the Internet? As the example we talked in class – the youtube video of a baby dancing with a background song, most people use youtube to entertain themselves and share their life with others, if we are not allowed to do this, what will youtube be like? And where will social media direct to?

    • aaaaaargh says:

      What a great connection: “In other words, the action of “blog” for journalists is the same purpose with the action of “invent the Internet”. We use them both for sharing information and communicating within a certain community.”

  9. thecoalfist says:

    After going through the readings and video, I came to a stunning realization: Al Gore was never mentioned!

    No, just kidding…My realization was that I had never, not even once, considered where the Internet came from.

    I was born in 1991, which means by the time I was 3 I could order a pizza online (which would’ve been sweet, given the fact I was in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles phase around that time).

    This was more than a little shocking to me. I stopped to think about where I am today and how I got here and realized the majority of my life as both a student and as a human being in general was forged through the Web!

    What began as a scientific and military project rapidly expanded into a form of life, and that is where we are at today. Older generations (my parents, for example) experienced the revolution firsthand, but my generation grew up already immersed in a well formed and refined version of the Internet.

    To illustrate just how important/incredible the Internet is, let’s look at a recent news story, the death of longtime Penn State coach Joe Paterno.

    Paterno’s death was initially reported by Onward State, a Penn State news organization. However, Onward State jumped the gun and proclaimed Paterno dead before he was actually dead (dude can’t even die without controversy…). CBS picked up Onward State’s story and before you knew what happened, Facebook blew up with “RIP Joe PA” statuses and every Penn State alum changed his/her avatar to a picture of Joe Pa smoking a cigar.

    All this happened while Paterno was still (barely) alive.

    In a matter of minutes, word came from Paterno’s family that, “Hey, my dad’s still alive! Please stop :(.”

    My point is that we live in a world where this can happen. The Internet and social media networks like Twitter make it possible to report a death, make the world believe somebody is dead, take back somebody’s death and immediately have the world understanding that somebody is not dead. To do all this in the short time of an hour or two is nothing short of mind-boggling, and it is a testament to how far the Internet has come.

    Now, on to SOPA/PIPA….Oh wait, they’re done. Thanks to the rapid spreading of information through or modern day Internet, people understood the seriousness of the bills and helped squash them. Again, that’s pretty damn cool and couldn’t have happened under any other circumstances.

    That’s not to say forms of SOPA/PIPA won’t resurface (they already have to my understanding). As I think I’ve made clear, the Internet’s capabilities are amazing to me and I would hate to see them restricted. With any good thing, there are bad side effects (eating a lot of steak gives you a heart attack, women like to complain, etc.) and of course the Internet can promote piracy, but that’s one negative against a lengthy list of positives.

    I like where the Internet is now in comparison to where it came from, and I would hate to see this rapid expansion throttled. I, being the optimist that I am, truly believe the best the Internet has to offer lies in the future, and it would be devastating to see such a powerful tool crumble before its maturation is realized.

    Just as the Internet was developed to keep the United States ahead of Communist Russia, the Internet will continue to grow to keep the vast majority of Internet users content over the comparatively fewer who are pushing restrictive bills.

    And we all know how that turned out…

    • aaaaaargh says:

      Great breakdown of the Paterno death as a bottled example of communication today. I wouldn’t go so far as to say SOPA/PIPA is done – brace yourself for what’s sure to be a more PR-minded campaign for the next wave.

      Nor (and stay with me here) is an argument against online piracy inherently a bad thing. Consider the situation of The Oatmeal, a popular webcomic – so popular, in fact, that others use it (without compensation) to draw traffic and ad dollars to their own sites. Problematic?

  10. I thought this weeks reading was very interesting. J.C.T. Licklider from MIT created this thing called the internet that has evolved into what it is today. Our generation has grown up with the internet our whole lives, so we can take it for granite. The internet was created to share vast amounts of information easily and quickly. All over the world, the internet started up for a different purpose and that has a lot to do with the diversity on the internet today. You can find an endless amount of websites with vast amounts of information in seconds with the internet today. This is because the internet has become such a large thing that you can pretty much find anything on there.

    Today, people use the internet for everything. I use the internet to find out a random sports fact when watching a game or to look up additional information about topics when I study. This is how our generation was brought up. We have always had this luxury of the internet and we don’t understand how lucky we are because we have never not had it. Just the fact that I can stay in touch with friends on the other side of the world instantly and share everything from stories to pictures is something that would have been called crazy when my parents were my age.

    I think that SOPA will hurt the internet, but won’t ruin it. SOPA is the stop online piracy act and it seems that the goal of it is to censor the internet. This is why some websites blacked out their pages recently for a day. SOPA can severely limit the amount of information available for you, but can never stop the internet. The internet is such a large place that this censorship can happen, but information that goes against what SOPA allows will still keep popping up and the information will be able to be found. This is in no way the last act that will limit the internet, but the internet is too big to be stopped.

  11. greerhughes says:

    The Internet is more than just a series of tubes! I grew up in VERY rural West Virginia and I was one of the last people to get the Internet. Not because we were poor, but because we just didn’t have access to it! Internet providers simply couldn’t service the area. My parents only got broadband a couple of years ago. When I moved back home after undergrad, I volunteered at the local library one day a week and the eight computers were always full and people were always waiting to get on the computer to browse the web and check their email. The Internet has come so far for so many people in its fairly short 50 year-ish lifespan, but I always think of how many people are getting left behind, whether it is due to their socioeconomic status or geographical location. I whine when I go back home to visit my parents because they barely have cell service and not even Edge network, but half of the people in that town don’t even have cell phones, let alone computers and smart phones.

    One of my favorite things to do on the Internet is to discover new music. I get a lot of my music from Amazon because whenever I download something, it recommends other music I might like too. I’m able to sample the song and decide if I like it enough to spend my precious dollars on it. How would something like this be affected by SOPA/PIPA? The problem here is that I don’t even know! I don’t know because I don’t fully understand the bill (as most people understand the general gist, but not the technical jargon) and that SOPA introduces such a slippery slope of what content is copyrighted and what’s not. I’m not going to say that I’ve never downloaded anything illegally, because I certainly have. When I finally did get the Internet, Napster was my favorite place to go. But so many times I would buy a CD after downloading one song from Napster. And now I pay for music from Amazon because I can listen to the song before I buy it.

    I think that the Internet was invented by a group of scientists and has been evolved by lots of groups of people all across the globe. Facebook might be a good metaphor for the evolution of the Internet. It was started by a nerdy guy who wanted to engage socially and rate chicks at Harvard. It grew from a small idea (locally) and even spread into a bigger network of colleges (globally), and was eventually available to everyone. Now it’s something (arguably) we can’t live without. Even your mom has Facebook.

    • aaaaaargh says:

      As I think I’ve mentioned in class, my own Internet situation was pretty similar: Rural area without broadband access until about two years ago. It points out an important aspect of online communication that gets taken for granted, that NOT EVERYONE HAS IT. We treat the Internet as a universal – and it’s certainly not going away – yet this view assumes a level of privilege and access that a good-sized proportion of our country and world do not possess.

      And my mom doesn’t have Facebook, but that’s mainly because she doesn’t like people.

  12. KLSloane says:

    The Internet is a vast world of whose realms are limitless and unfamiliar to many. I think that it is safe to say that its creation in 1957 is definitely not attributed to one individual; rather, a team. If it were just one person who created this enormous cyberspace, then the Internet would have not been able to grow into what it has today. That is, an endless source of information, relationships, sharing, art, entertainment, etc.

    I believe that what the Internet has turned into was just as unimaginable in 1957, as what it will be in the future to us now. I remember in middle school I loathed the computer classes that forced us to put a box over our hands so that we would memorize the keys of the keyboard. I thought that the exercise was pointless because I did not care for computers, or see their need. About eight years later, and wow, was I wrong. Even my cousin in fifth grade boasts about how all of her friends have the iPad. I’m twenty-one years old, and not even I have yet to use one!

    In terms of SOPA, I find it ironic that the government wants to limit something that it contributed to in the first place. Although the Internet has evolved into something much different than its original form, I believe that by doing so it became something much more profound. That being said, I criticize SOPA for trying to limit our freedom of speech and clicking ability to instantly find information, friends, music and so on. The Internet is the main source for news in today’s world. It keeps people in the know and allows them to find other people with similar interests. Although the Internet does have its downfalls, for example, its ability to start and spread protests, I think that its pros severely way out its cons. Moreover, I think that this legislation is taking two steps back for this outstanding invention; rather, than letting it grow and progress naturally as it has done so for decades.

  13. Matt Murphy says:

    I never realized that the concept’s that drive today’s form of the Internet began to come together in the late 1950s – I had always thought of the Internet as a relatively modern (1980s) invention. We had a computer growing up, but we had no access to the Internet until probably the mid to late 1990s (when we got dial-up!).

    Still, I can’t really remember using the Internet by myself for anything until fourth or fifth grade – about the same time Dan Gillmor began the first blog sponsored by a traditional news organization. But not too long after, like most of us, I was spending so much time checking my new e-mail account (which yes, I lied about my age on Hotmail, just like everyone else) and chatting on MSN Messenger.

    Anyway, back to the point, it’s interesting to me that after the Soviets launched Sputnik, interests (mostly government) in the U.S., U.K. and France banded together to create an international computer network for sharing information. I had always thought that the Internet was more just an American invention.

    But the reason I find that interesting is because the use of the early Internet is the same as it is today – the sharing of information without borders, and often, with little government control. Although the ability of the Internet has greatly increased, three governments communicating with one another in the 1960s is, in a way, similar to myself Skyping with my cousin studying abroad.

    In addition to the basic function of the Internet – information sharing – remaining unchanged, the way the web develops and grows also seems unchanged. When the Internet was “created,” it took groups of people in multiple countries to facilitate that creation. Now, content on the web is still generated by millions of groups and individuals around the world, adding to the growing an daunting stream of information we can access. The Internet has and continues to be driven by many people in many different parts of the globe, not by one person or group.

    And, because people and groups that never would have been able to communicate and know of one another’s existence now have that ability, we are also able to hear more opinions that shape the world (an extreme case being the Arab Spring).

    So that’s why SOPA and PIPA are so controversial – the bills would have changed the way the Internet has always operated, especially in this country. The legislation would have attempted to limit the Internet and what it has always been used for – the free flow of information.

  14. mwlfrd says:

    The “History of the Internet” video educated me quite a lot compared to what I thought the Internet was created for and how it was developed. I seemed to think that the Internet was developed alongside the personal computer in the 1980’s and 1990’s, when I was just beginning to be introduced to the Internet.

    I think many groups that came together to be able to share data with one another and be able to do this as fast as possible created the Internet. As the video showed, it’s original use was for the world to share information during war time, but as we all know, this network eventually became our Internet of today that provides the entire public with any possible information that they might want or need.

    I believe that the Internet has been abused in the past decade to steal copyrighted information and whatnot, but with the current debate over SOPA and PIPA, I feel like it would punish everyone for something that a select group is guilty of doing. If either of these bills pass, I think it will lead to the government blocking and censoring everything they can to the point of taking away are current “free” internet.

    Just as one the New York Times articles said, we knew this would eventually happen, with people using the Internet for the wrong reasons and sometimes unknowingly breaking the law by doing something as simple as posting a picture without giving the creator any credit, but I don’t think that today’s Internet users will be willing to give up what they have maintained for decades now.

    I think one of the greatest fears of Internet users is that they will lose their free speech via the Internet and will only be able to post what the government approves. My biggest fear is that our social networks like Twitter and Facebook will be in the crosshairs of the government if these bills pass. We use social networks on a day-to-day basis and without them news would not travel between our groups and networks of friends, family, and acquaintances; making them almost useless.

  15. Ali Young says:

    The Internet wasn’t invented by a single individual, but a conglomeration of individuals that wanted to broaden our intellectual abilities by reaching out to other networks. Although the Internet dates back to 1957, I can remember using it for the first time in the late 1990’s. I had no idea the capabilities the Internet would serve or that I would become dependent on it for information. It’s strange to think people had to be patient with a dial-up connection; not knowing we would ever have high-speed Internet or how fast technology would advance. I was too young to realize that social media existed outside of school or television, yet I was using our IBM computer for AOL and adding to my buddy list on a weekly basis.

    Now, I’m almost finished with college and facing a future without the endless possibilities that I’ve always been used to. The idea of SOPA and PIPA is so daunting to me because it contradicts what the Internet is all about. Why would they want to shut down websites that are exploited every day? The Internet is the biggest resource of information that exists; yet the House and Senate are trying to pass bills against its operation. If you think about how many people are opposing SOPA and writing to congress, it makes the amount of people that are in favor of the bill miniscule.

    It’s amazing to think about the many forms the Internet has taken. It originated with the USSR launching the first artificial earth satellite and now the internet is used as our main source for computer networks to interconnect providing individuals with endless communication abilities through email, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, etc. In the article regarding the New Economy Rises against the Old, politicians are beginning to rethink their opinions and if they want to move forward with the bill. Therefore, the Internet may eventually be restricted in some ways, but there aren’t enough individuals who think it should be blocked altogether.

    • aaaaaargh says:

      Several of you have expressed surprise that the Internet was a creation of the (late) 1950s rather than the 80s or 90s. Welll…kind of. Yes, the original thing was created then, and yes, the “internet” term came into existence earlier than was expected, but prior to that late-80s/early-90s period, it existed but wasn’t (couldn’t be) a realistic part of typical life for all but the earliest (and wealthiest) of adopters. It was a network, but a network of the rich and geeky. All that goes to say that you’re not exactly wrong in thinking that The Internet As We Know It got started around the 90s, even though the technology predates it by decades.

  16. I am so frustrated at the amount of information that’s on the Internet. I won’t deny that the Internet is a fabulous tool that has helped us to communicate and express ourselves in ways we never thought were possible. But, at some point, I think we’ve just gotten ridiculous. I’m not trying to be a critic of the blogs, or status updates, or whatever it is peole use to stay connected, but as I was reading through Dan Gillmor’s Twitter feed, I couldn’t help but think “What’s the point of all this?” Not just with respect to Gillmor, but to everyone who has a Twitter, Facebook, blog, or any other online account. I mean, Gillmor had over 20 Tweets in one day, and I’m sure that’s not the only form of communication he’s using.
    And the same goes for everybody else. Sure, some people have important news, or something enlightening to share with the world, but the large majority of people out there just post stupid information that isn’t going to do anybody any good. I feel like by providing these sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), we’ve just allowed everyone to feel like an important advisor or informer, when really, there’s nothing special or entertaining about them at all. All these useless posts just become clutter for the rest of us to shuffle through.

    And I include myself in all this. I don’t put status updates on Facebook, I don’t have a Twitter account, I only recently got a Google account, and I don’t have any other sort of social network accounts outside what I need for school (ecampus, statsportal, etc.). And yet, here I am, in a blogging course, posting my opinion on this read and respond…and who’s going to care? Nobody wants my opinion or take on any of this.
    So, although I appreciate reading about the history of the Internet, and I find it terribly interesting how far our technology has advanced, I think we’re taking it too far. There is simply too much nonsense floating around and we don’t really have time for it. I feel like I’ve been chasing around other peoples’ posts and blogs and after all that, I struggle to get my own posts and blogs up on time.

    So, thank you, designers of the Internet, but please, encourage your users to stay in contact with more than the virtual world.

    • aaaaaargh says:

      I hope you took a look at the Jaron Lanier reading posted above!

      It’s important to provide perspectives like this because it’s easy to get so caught up in what we CAN do that we can lose sight of what we SHOULD do. I won’t claim I can answer your Gillmor question of “what’s the point,” but I will point out that Twitter (and most social media) is an opt-in system. That means the the only people who need to follow Dan Gillmor (or Fox News, or Barack Obama, or Shaq) or those who DO see a point to it.

      Consider it from a different perspective. You write “there’s nothing special or entertaining about them at all.” Well, who decides that? Is it preferable to have three major broadcast networks and the 1-2 newspapers available in your area be the only ones with the ability to tell you what’s important? Would you prefer less choice in the matter? Certainly “choice” is a double-edged sword – you can choose to follow nothing but high schoolers on Twitter, for all the information that will provide you – but does it matter at all that you’re the one wielding it?

      (Also, be sure to incorporate specifics from all the readings, particularly our Briggs text.)

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