Blog Post 1- It's Not Such A Wide Webby World: Part 2
Or, It All Began With The Russians
Hi. I've been reading about the creation of the Internet lately, partially because I don't really know much about it or understand how it really works, and partially because we have to write a blog entry about it for class.
The website that I've been able to follow the best is the entry for the "Creation of the Internet" on Wikipedia.org (which I always spell wrong- remember there's no "c"). Anyway, here's what I learned from Wikipedia's entry on the creation of the internet:
Basically, it all began when the Russians launched Sputnik and the U.S. government was jealous and scared of being left in the dust technology-wise so it created the technological agency called ARPA. The creation of this agency led to the creation of other agencies that were all working on creating some sort of networking system for computers. One man involved, J.C.R. Licklider, even “saw universal networking as a potential unifying human revolution.”
The idea behind creating this network came from studies done by the air force in which they used packet switching rather than circuit switching, which is what phone lines were using. Circuit switching, according to the Wikipedia article about the ARPANET, is when the line is tied up and data can only be used by the two parties sending it back and forth (the phone line image really helps). Packet switching, on the other hand, is when the data is dispersed into multiple packets and can be sent to multiple destinations, and there can be several packets with different information all being sent at once. The author of the Wikipedia articles likens this idea to a mail carrier delivering mail to several different residences (which is again a super helpful image). So by using this idea of packet switching, ARPA launched the ARPANET, which was the father? mother? older sibling? of the Internet that we know today.
Like I said before, I didn’t really know much about the Internet, and I still don’t really understand it. But now I have some idea of how it came into being. I think my favorite part of the history is Licklider’s idea of the Internet as a “potential unifying human revolution.” It certainly is. Although the government began tinkering with this stuff in order to advance in the realm of science and technology, it seems that they were still aware of the social implications that a network like this could have on the world.