Happy birthday Internet

The Guardian has published an interesting feature on the 40th brithday  – according to some calculations – of the Internet.  Oliver Burkeman (who also deserves credit for meticulously distinguishing the Internet as a whole from the web) observes in


It was a crucial idiosyncracy of the Arpanet that its funding came from the American defence establishment – but that the millions ended up on university campuses, with researchers who embraced an anti-establishment ethic, and who in many cases were committedly leftwing; one computer scientist took great pleasure in wearing an anti-Vietnam badge to a briefing at the Pentagon.

This is a really interesting, and often overlooked point, that I’ve sometimes mentioned in teaching, though I’ve deliberately avoided using references to the political left and right.  It’s an interesting paradox that ARPANET was a tool of officialdom, and yet designed by a bunch of rebels, and I do think that you can still see something of that paradox in today’s Internet, where almost anybody can put up a web page, but governments and big companies also have a considerable presence


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