Chapter 3 of my book A History of the Internet and the Digital Future has just been published by Ars Technica. This is one of the 3 chapters (of the 13 in the book) that are being published for free. Here it is, or read at Ars.
Johnny Ryan’s A History of the Internet and the Digital Future has just been released and is already drawing rave reviews. Ars Technica is proud to present three chapters from the book, condensed and adapted for our readers. You can find Chapter 1 here. The current installment is adapted from Chapter 3, “The Essence of the Internet,” and it tells the story of the development of some of the fundamental technologies and protocols that underlie the Internet.
Article in OpenDemocracy, co-authored by Johnny Ryan and Stefan Halper, 22 January 2010:
A speech on the theme of internet freedom around the world delivered by Hillary Clinton on 21 January 2010 contained a striking phrase. The United States secretary of state, speaking at Washington’s journalism-focused Newseum, argued that nation-states that chose to limit free access to information risked “walling themselves off from the progress of the next century”. Continue reading
Now that it is complete, a clear narrative has emerged from the forthcoming book. The Internet, like many readers of the book itself, is a child of the industrial era. Long before digital communications, the steam engine, telegraph pole, and coalmine quickened the pace of the world. Industrialized commerce, communications and war spun the globe ever faster, and increasingly to a centripetal beat. Control in the industrialized world was put at the centre. The furthest reaches of the globe came under the sway of centers of power. Massive urbanization and a flight from the land created monstrous cities in the great nations. Training of workmen, the precise measurement of a pistol barrel’s caliber, mass assembly of automobiles, all were a regimented, standardized in conformity with the centripetal imperative. The industrial revolution created a world of centralization and organized hierarchy. Its defining pattern was a single, central dot to which all strands led. The emerging digital age is different.
The defining pattern of the digital age is the absence of the central dot. In its place a mesh of many points is evolving, each linked by webs and networks. This story is about the death of the center and Continue reading
The word ‘Openness’ is attractive as the keystone of the book‘s title. And yet it is controversial.
It may even be inaccurate. The ‘Open’ word as I am using it first came to me when I read interviews with Paul Baran in which he talked about two startling things: first, how RAND published his secret research because they believed it necessary to share it with the Soviets, and thereby limit the possibility of a nuclear conflagration; and second, Continue reading