The creation of the internet was and still is a major part of our lives. Most today do not contemplate about the origins of the internet or why it was created in the first place. For a tool that many of us use one would believe that those who use the internet would know its origins. However, this notion is sadly not true as you will see in our research. Our group decided to focus on why the internet was created, but not specifically how. Not only did our research focus on the creation of the internet, but also how people interpret the internet today and if they know of its origins.
Our research began by reading Where the Wizards Stay Up Late, in which the authors discuss the various ways on how the internet came into fruition. Those who know some history of the internet’s origins will quickly tell you the internet was developed as defense mechanism which would be used to prevent total nuclear destruction at the height of the Cold War. Though their answer is not necessarily wrong it does not give the whole story. Plus the internet’s history predates the Cold War anyways.
Here in this project we wish to present you with the necessary tools to develop your own interpretation of the internet and why it was developed. In it you will find a timeline which breaks down history of the ARPAnet, the antecedent to the internet. However, as noted before, our research does not only include the origins of the internet, but also some of today’s underlying issues on how people view and interpret this great piece of technology.
We went around the UMW campus to anyone we could get our hands on and asked them three simple questions: What is the internet?, What is the difference between the internet and the World Wide Web?, and What is the ARPAnet? Not to our surprise many could not answer the “simple” questions:
For those that use the internet on a daily basis and do not understand how it works, what it means, or where it comes from brings up many issues in our society. Here we have a perhaps the greatest invention of the twentieth century and most people can’t even explain exactly what it really is. Nonetheless, there were a few who actually knew what ARPAnet was or how the internet works, but for the others it is safe to say they failed to conjure up the words to give a well thought out explanation of the internet. Even though we put many those in the video in the spot light, we still only asked those three basic question.
Additionally, within the internet course itself we asked our fellow classmates several different questions and we took a poll. The first question we asked, “Before this semester, who knew what ARPAnet was?” Four out of twenty-one students knew of the existence of the ARPAnet. The second question was, “Who knows what ARPAnet stands for?” The second question was more geared towards the beginning of the semester to see if students had been paying any attention to the class, only six out twenty-one students knew the correct answer. The last question we asked was perhaps the most simple, “Did you even care about the previous questions?” Only four students cared about those questions. We asked the last question to ask a more broader one for you the viewer, “Is it important to know how the internet works and where it comes from?”
This is a serious question to address especially in the field of education and if the internet is important to teach to our children beyond just its use. How can we incorporate the internet into the classroom without the stigma it faces today. One would believe again that all those that use a tool understands how it works, especially having used it their entire lives. However, we will also leave that question for your own interpretation after you walk through the history and origins of the internet in this timeline:
This timeline provides a good since of where the internet began and where it was supposed to and still is going today. Prior the internet even being invented its pioneers knew exactly where the technology was heading. The internet was not designed simply as a military defense system even though it was funded b the government. It is evident within the early text on the internet that it was created for a better way to communicate between one another. So that learning and research institutions could share their results and finding. The internet was created to build a stronger community that would be filled with endless amounts of knowledge to expand the overall human experience. Though it is also evident that this notion is true as we can see today, it is more important to ask what that all means today. How do we move forward in this community and improve its overall experience. We have barely scratched the surface of what the early pioneers of the internet had in mind. Also please note that there is a difference between the internet and the World Wide Web…..
If you wish to take a quiz that our classmates took after viewing the timeline and learning about the internet you can do that here. (Answers) To warn you in advance this quiz was more directed for the class and not a broader audience, but it serves its purpose nonetheless even though some the questions will not make since to you.
Additionally, for more early documents on how the internet actually work please review these sources provided to us by Paul Bond who found them while researching ARPAnet.