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the Internet story
&& its theme[s]

click here to read everyone's reading responses from last week

Intergalactic "distributed" Computer Network

J.C.R. Licklader who coined the term “Intergalactic Computer Network” in the early 60’s and dreamed of a day when a researcher at one institution could use computer networks to access research at another institution, to spead up knowledge transfer and avoid the doubling up of research.

"...the print on paper form is embarrassing because in order to distribute it you've got to move the paper around and a lot of paper gets to be bulky and heavey and expensive to move about."

— J.C.R. Licklider ( Computer Networks doc - 1972 )

( quote at 21:10 )

centralized network

disributed network

packet switching

motivated by similar research goals, an engineer named Paul Baran developed two key ideas which would be central to the Internet, the first was building a “distributed” network, a network with no center, where no one node is more important than the other. the second idea is what came to be known as “packet-switching”, whereby files would be divided into smaller pieces ( or packets ) and individually ( and thus more efficiently ) sent across the network and pieced back together on the receiving end. these were radical ideas at the time which stood in stark contrast to the methods and ideologies of the established communication monopoly ( AT&T ).

"The older telephone engineers had problems with the concept of packet switching. On one of my several trips to AT&T Headquarters at 195 Broadway in New York City I tried to explainpacket switching to a senior telephone company executive. In mid sentence he interrupted me, “Wait a minute, son. “Are you trying to tell me that you open the switch before the signal is transmitted all the way across the country?” I said, “Yes sir, that’s right.” The old analog engineer looked stunned. He looked at his colleagues in the room while his eyeballs rolled up sending a signal of his utter disbelief. He paused for a while, and then said, “Son, here’s how a telephone works….” And then he went on with a patronizing explanation of how a carbon button telephone worked. It was a conceptual impasse."

— Paul Baran ( An Oral History )

During the Cold War the United States established Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency ( DARPA ) in order to research and develop new technologies for the military. In the 60’s they funded the development of a computer network which would achieve the aforementioned research goals as well ensure communication in the aftermath of a nuclear attack. This became the ARPANET

ARPANET - 1970

ARPANET - 1982


X.25 Protocol

"Closely related to keeping the technical design open was keeping the social process around the design open as well. Anyone was welcome to join the party"

"Keep in mind that the original developers of the host level protocols were mostly graduate students. We adopted a humble and inclusive posture and a mantra that Dave Clark ultimately coined as ‘rough consensus and running code’ - which means we don’t really vote exactly, we just try to assess rough consensus among the group trying to agree on proposed standards."

TCP/IP Protocol

who controls the internet

With the standardization of TCP/IP came the real possibility to connect the ARPANET with other international networks and create a “network of networks” each controlled by different organizations but all following the same rules and protocols to form the Internet. In the 80’s the military handed over the ARPANET to the National Science Foundation, who then built the first “Internet backbone”, a high-speed network that connected different parts of the Internet together.

the NSF backbone

the Internet circa 1993

former US vice-president Al Gore may have misspoken when he said he “took the initiative in creating the Internet” but what he was referring to was the work he and the Clinton Administration did to expand Internet usage beyond the academic niche. He wrote essays on the subject including “Infrastructure for a Global Village” and pushed granting initiatives that lead to the National Information Infrastructure and the first popular graphical web browser ( Mosaic ). In 1994 the commercial restrictions were lifted when the Clinton Administration privatized the backbone.

three of the Internet "backbones" or tier 1 networks

Today, no single institution controls the Internet. There are thousands of commercial companies, non-for profits, universities, governments, public interest groups and other entities who play different roles in controlling and maintaining the Internet. The many backbones ( or Tier 1 networks ) are maintained by different companies and interconnect to each other to exchange traffic ( at Internet exchange points ) on a voluntary ( surprisingly informal ) basis. There are a handful of international not-for-profit organizations like the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) and ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) which develop and maintain the Internet’s standards and conventions, many of which are open for anyone to join and participate in. recap history of the Internet ( in 8min )

the World Wide Web

The World Wide Web is NOT the Internet, confusing the two would be like confusing cars for roads. the Web is one of the many things we use the Internet for, in the same way that cars are one of the many vehicles that travel on roads.

In 1945, an American engineer/inventor/thinker named Vannevar Bush wrote an article in the Atlantic entitled, “As We May Think,” where he described a theoretical machine for storing and reteriving information based on associations ( which he argued would be more akin to the way we think than the way information was currently being organized ) he called it the “memex.” This text influenced lots of radically minded engineers and futurists who followed including Douglas Englebart ( who among many other things invented the mouse ) and Ted Nelson, who coined the term “hypertext” and created one of the first applications ( called Xanadu ) which had linked documents.
In 1989 Tim Berners-Lee wrote a proposal for a system for linking hypertext documents over the Internet. He submitted it to his boss at CERN ( the research institute he was working at ), who wrote in a memo, “vague, but interesting.” Despite the lack of support Berners-Lee went ahead and created HTTP ( Hypertext Transfer Protocol ) and the first application which could read documents formatted with HTML ( Hypertext Markup Language ). CERN still wasn’t interested, so he posted it to a few Internet newsgroups for free ...the rest was history, the World Wide Web was born.

Afraid that the growing popularity of the Web might lead to corporate competition creating proprietary ( non-open ) web applications that would destroy the integrity and open nature of the Web, Berners-Lee held the first WWW conference to discuss open web standards. This lead to the creation of the World Wide Web Consortium ( W3C ) which he still directs to this day. The W3C is an international organization open to anyone ( and made up of governments, companies, not-for-profits, universities, etc. ) and is in charge of developing the open standards for the web.



download Fetch and bring it into class next week

watch this video...

...then check out these animated gif art galleries for inspiration:

then use the vast resources of the wwweb to learn how to create an Animated gif.
Make one and then bring it into class next week.

then write a response ( 300 - 500 words ) answering the question: are animated gifs a valid medium for artistic expression? simply put, can gifs be art? why or why not? write your response with TextEdit as you did last week and save it as an .html file again.

One more step! At the bottom of your file type in the following code:
<img src="mygif.gif">
but replace ‘mygif’ with the name of your gif ( make sure your file name has no capital letters and no spaces )