Member 185
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Patrick Tierney (M, 34)
Princeton, US
Immortal since Oct 7, 2007
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    The Internet was designed to be social.
    Project: Polytopia
    As many have documented, the foundations of our current state of the Internet (namely the TCP/IP protocols) were developed by Leonard Kleinrock at UCLA in late 1969, with the first Internet connection formed between the UCLA and Stanford campuses. It's good to keep in mind this initial connection, as it summarizes the essence of the Internet: a number of computers connected to each other. People typically turn this simple network of computers into useful applications by establishing protocols based on metaphors. The first protocol was designed around metaphor of mail, generating email. Only a few years later, in the early 1970, protocols emerged that offered computer users the ability to enter "rooms" and meet other users. I would argue that this quick jump from the written, static mail metaphor, to a dynamic, social, room and conversation metaphor illustrates that this connection of computers, simple as it is, is destined to be used socially.

    It would be nearly 20 years before a metaphor emerged that challenged chat rooms and email, a protocol designed around a card catalog: Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP). HTTP offered many advantages, such as the ability to view images, movies, and organize large, static bodies of text efficiently. Unfortunately, it lacked social meeting places, it lacked conversation, it lacked human to human interaction. It 10 years it had come to completely dominate the Internet, and is what most people think of when they use it. It is unfortunate that we call for a more social, dynamic, and communal version of the Internet, when it originally functioned just as that. All the Internet is is a collection of computers. How we use it is up to us.

    Sat, Sep 26, 2009  Permanent link

    Sent to project: Polytopia
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