Endorsements for A History of the Internet and the Digital Future
“an engrossing, well-written account of the Internet’s founding and the back story of the underlying protocols and plumbing, which draws on that rich history to make predictions about the net’s future.”
–Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing
An immensely important book. … This narrative reads like the digital equivalent of the Manhattan Project, with all the excitement of discovery, blind alleys, failure to see the obvious, and thinking beyond established norms. … Wonderful, liberating quotes are threaded through this meticulous charting of a revolution by Johnny Ryan.
–Kevin O’Sullivan, Editor of The Irish Times
“Johnny Ryan takes us through the history of the Internet to demonstrate how it has changed everything. But that’s not all; he also identifies what’s to come in the future. … Understanding the trends driving this revolution is pivotal to success. Consider this book your road map to getting there.”
–Marc Benioff, Chairman and CEO of Salesforce.com
“Both an enormously useful work and great read. Read it and understand what has made the Internet different.”
–Professor Tim Wu, Columbia Law School
“Ryan dissects the play of actors, the essence of their technical ideas, and the details of their activities with documentation and diligence, and even uncovers some discrepancies. He develops a narrative that I found intriguing, enlightening, and credible.”
–Dave Crocker, The Internet Protocol Journal (Cisco)
“This is the best Western history of the Internet offered to date…”
“Johnny Ryan has admirably captured the sweep of the Internet’s development from its earliest days, showing us how its profound impact is in part an accident of history, a phenomenon whose most interesting and liberating aspects could fade without reinforcement of its core values.”
–Professor Jonathan Zittrain, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School and Kennedy School; Professor of Computer Science, Harvard SEAS; Author, The Future of the Internet — And How to Stop It.
“a wonderful read”
“Absolutely fascinating … If I had to pick one book about the Internet, this would be it!”
–Rebecca Johnson, Amazon top 10 reviewer
- The first book to describe the entire history of the Internet, from the Cold War to the cloud.
- Reveals the trends that are shaping the businesses, politics, and media of the digital future.
- Analyzes the impact of the internet on the balance of power between the state and the individual, and on issues of censorship and freedom of expression.
- Italian edition Storia di internet e il futuro digitale just released by premier publisher Einaudi
Here is an idea of what is in this book:
A great adjustment in human affairs is underway. The pattern of political, commercial, and cultural life is changing. This story is about the death of the center and the development of commercial and political life in a networked system. It is also the story about the coming power of the networked individual as the new vital unit of effective participation and creativity.
Driving this move from the center is the Internet.
The Internet is a centrifugal force, user driven and open. These three characteristics have asserted themselves throughout its history. Understanding them is the key to adapting to the new global commons, a political and media system in flux, and the future of competitive creativity…
Listen to interview on BBC Radio (5 Live)
Samples of subjects in A History of the Internet and the Digital Future:
- The bubble… (eBay, Amazon, Netscape, Webvan, Pets.com…)
- Innovation in the shadow of the Nuke
- The Music Industry: hope in the Long Tail and a long history of technological turmoil
- The MP3, its origins and impact
- New Audiences and the digital fourth wall
- The tulip, NASDAQ and the dot-com crash
- The decline of the newspaper
- Lord Byron’s daughter becomes world’s first programmer
- Communities beyond geography: the Phone Phreakers
- Short note on the virulent growth of WWW + Internet, 1988-1997
- Al Gore and the Internet
- The Big Idea: the death of the center and the new centrifugal trend
- ICANN becomes Independent!
- Kool DJ Herc, the birth of hip hop, and the future of hacked media
Academic courses that use this book in their course list:
Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government, course: 2020 Visions & Information Policy: Considering the Public Interest [link]; Harvard University, Berkman Centre, course: CS42: Controlling Cyberspace [link]; University of Illinois, course: LIS 490TEG, iSchool [link]; Stanford University, course: Symbolic systems 201 [link]; University of California, Davis, course: History 102E – The History of Cyberculture [link]; University of Mary Washington, course: HIST471D7 [link]; SAIC – School of the Art Institute of Chicago, course: ‘Laptop Literacy and Digital Imaging’, and ‘Creating Culture and Community on the WWW’ [link]; University of Southern California, Introduction to Digital Media [link], Bradley University, Introduction to New Media Theory [link]; University of Winchester, course: Manipulating Media; University of Virginia, course: A History of Globalization [link]; Istanbul Bilgi University, Cyber Anthropology [link]; University of West Georgia, course: Digital History and New Media [link]; University College Galway, course: Geographies of Cyberspace [link]; University of Limerick, course: Introduction to Digital Media 2011 [link]; Washington University in St. Louis, course: Future networks and next generation Internet [link]; Universidade Católica Portuguesa [link]; University of Vassa [link].
—PHASE I: DISTRIBUTED NETWORK, CENTRIFUGAL IDEAS—
Chapter 1. A CONCEPT BORN IN THE SHADOW OF THE NUKE
Chapter 2. THE MILITARY EXPERIMENT
Chapter 3. THE ESSENCE OF THE INTERNET
Chapter 4. COMPUTERS BECOME CHEAP, FAST, AND COMMON
—PHASE II: EXPANSION—
Chapter 5. THE HOI POLLOI CONNECT
Chapter 6. COMMUNITIES BASED ON INTEREST, NOT PROXIMITY
Chapter 7. FROM MILITARY NETWORKS TO THE GLOBAL INTERNET
Chapter 8. THE WEB!
Chapter 9. A PLATFORM FOR TRADE AND THE PITFALLS OF THE DOT COM
Chapter 10. WEB 2.0 AND THE RETURN TO THE ORAL TRADITION
—PHASE III: THE EMERGING ENVIRONMENT—
Chapter 11. NEW AUDIENCES, THE FOURTH WALL, AND EXTRUDED MEDIA
Chapter 12. TWO WAY POLITICS
Chapter 13. PROMISE AND PERIL
This book will take the reader on a path through some of the most interesting events and documents of the last century. A few samples: wargame-style briefings outlining nuclear exchange scenarios presented to President Kennedy, memoranda from the Obama transition team in 2008, scientific proposals for resilient communications networks developed at RAND in the early 1960s, records of the US Air Force’s increasing reliance on statistics and research & development during WWII, Warran Buffet’s I-told-you-so letter to shareholders in the aftermath of the dot com bust, startling statistics of growth in value of eBay sales per year, schematics of Steve Wozniak’s Apple I computer… This book will be not only a history, but like all good histories, may say where we are bound in the future.
I’ve spoken to some interesting people recently, including Vint Cerf, Bob Kahn, Leonard Kleinrock, Steve Crocker, Robert Cailliau, Bob Metcalfe, Dave Crocker, Heidi Heiden, Shih-Pau Yen (inventor of Gopher), Bill Thompson, Gregor Bailar, Ralph Lee Smith (author of “Wired Nation” in 1970), Brian Pinkerton (search engine innovator), Gordon Bell, and Phil Madsen (man behind Jesse Ventura’s Internet driven 1998 campaign), Thomas Bruce (creator of Cello, the first PC web browser), Alan Emtage (inventor of Archie), Perry Pei Wei (creator of the first Unix WWW browser), Andrew Weinreich (founder of the first social network, sixdegrees.com), and Josh Tauberer, founder of GovTrack.us, Justin Williams (activist against the App Store NDA policy), Netfrack (the first MP3 pirate), Steven M. Bellovin (one of the founders of Usenet), Carlye Adler, Marc Benioff (the founder of Salesforce and SaaS pioneer). A range of people including Peter Kirstein, Howard Rheingold, Micah Sifry, Nick Yee, have helped with sources. The RAND Corporation have kindly permitted the reproduction of Paul Baran’s diagram on distributed networking.
The ideas in this book are have benefited from the insights of thought, business, and policy leaders who participated at the IIEA Digital Future Group since October 2007, including Timothy Wu, Viviane Reding (European Commissioner for Media & Information Society), Larry Sanger (co-founder of Wikipedia), Peter Fleischer (Chief Privacy Counsel of Google Inc.), H.E. Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Jonathan Zittrain, and US Congressman Rick Boucher.
[image: a selection of books on my shelf at the moment]
The publisher is Reaktion Press, an interesting publishing house that produces books like A Cultural History of Boxing – see The Economist’s review of that book here. They distribute in the US through the University of Chicago Press. According to Wikipedia, Reaktion was runner-up for the Sunday Times Small Publisher of the Year Award in 1996, 1997, and 1999, and was shortlisted in 2003
See a note here about the word ‘Openness’, which has a little controversy surrounding it in some circles…