Feb 11, 2010
Interestingly, this week’s reading covered some of the exact same points that I discussed in my blog post last week. I swear I didn’t read this article ahead of time. The Witte/Mannon article did mention one topic that my response didn’t cover. It answered one question that I’ve always been curious about: how the Internet began. I know the first computer, ENIAC, was built by the University of Pennsylvania, but how did the Internet become such a phenomenon?
I was not surprised to read that the development of the Internet was the military’s idea. The military is probably constantly working on projects that are far ahead of our time. However, it’s not just the military working on futuristic concepts. While discussing the evolution of the Internet, the article stated, “By the early 1990s, developers were considering ways to deliver new Internet services, ‘including teleconferencing, remote seminars, telescience, and distributed simulation’ (RFC#1633). And by 1996, an Internet standard for the encoding of audio and video data had been released (RFC#1890) and work was beginning on GPS-based addressing and routing (RFC#2009).”
I am fascinated by this information because it proves to me how little I really know about where our technology is coming from. I never would have guessed that teleconferencing was being developed in the 1990s because it has only recently become a part of our mainstream culture. I do remember the days before video chat and Skype (those dark, cold days), but it has become so ingrained in my life that it’s hard to imagine what the world did before it.
I guess it just always surprises me to learn of the achievements made without our current technology. I am not only impressed by what techies were working on two decades ago, but also by what was achieved without computers, machinery, or electricity. I traveled to Peru in December and hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Along the way, I was awestruck by how preserved and functional the Incan architecture still was. We saw plenty of structures before Machu Picchu that, even after 500 years, were still standing and able to be touched and walked upon. Machu Picchu was just the giant culmination of the Incan talents of stoneworking, terracing and construction. That ancient civilization thrived so long ago, yet I can’t imagine what our world would do today if we lost the use of the Internet and telephones. I guess some people are trying to prepare themselves for the worst by using the Web 2.0 Suicide Machine to free themselves from their online addictions now (thanks Dave).
I am certainly not advocating that we give up our use of technology- I know that I myself would not last more than a day. I just believe that we should remember where we came from. Yes, there was a whole world that existed without some of what we now consider necessities. It had its share of problems, from communication difficulties to disease outbreaks, but it got us to where we are today. For those who miss those simpler days- who says you can’t go “home”?