Each year since his death in 2011, November 8 is celebrated online as #AaronSwartzDay, when countless tributes to this Internet Hall of Fame inductee are made across multiple digital platforms. This article on Catch News examines his life, work and the legacy he left behind.
The Internet originated as an experimental computer network in academia. Its initial purpose was to enable universities and research institutions to communicate and exchange documents and research data on a non-profit basis. With the launch of Windows 95, what began as a grassroots researcher network gained rapid and widespread acceptance. In this article, Internet Hall of Fame inductee Jun Murai examines the development of the Internet in Japan and the social setting for its evolution.
The 1973 paper by Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn describing TCP/IP represented the start of the ‘Internet Age.’ By 1987, key developments in the U.S. planted seeds for the global Internet: adoption of TCP/IP by the ARPANET, and two TCP/IP-based, National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded community networks. These were CSNET (the Computer Science Network) and the NSFNET.
What is often overlooked is that this U.S. activity was not emulated elsewhere. Governments of almost every country actively opposed Internet adoption. They viewed the Internet as a non-standard U.S. technology. They favored a collection of protocols, commonly referred to as OSI (Open Systems Interconnection), being developed by the world’s standards bodies (such as the International Organization for Standardization). In Europe, most national governments and the European Commission would not fund Internet R&D.
In the U.S., there also was anti-Internet pressure. The Commerce Department supported the GOSIP (Government OSI Profile) directive requiring that OSI be included on U.S. government computer purchases. And many U.S. companies preferred OSI to TCP/IP.
On February 8, 1996, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Grateful Dead lyricist, Electronic Frontier Foundation founder and Internet Hall of Fame inductee John Perry Barlow wrote 'A Declaration of Cyberspace.' At the time, the declaration sought to establish that the Internet falls outside any country's borders, and that as a result no government's laws should be applied to it. By 2004, John Perry Barlow, reflecting on the optimism of his work, noted,"we all get older and smarter." Here, the modern orator revisits this historic paper in New York City on July 30, 2013.
Today’s generation cannot imagine a time when the Internet did not exist. But there was a “beginning”, initiated by the appearance in late 1969 of the ARPANET, the first large-scale, heterogeneous, multi-purpose computer network.
However, this heralded event was preceded by a developing vision for global information communication by early thinkers who foresaw aspects of today’s globally-connected world. But this vision had to wait for technology to catch up.
Perhaps the first system that actually provided global electronic connectivity with instantaneous communication occurred with the invention and intercontinental deployment of the telegraph network. This took place in the mid-nineteenth century and was a turning point in world history. One can argue that it served as an inspiration for even broader visions to come as well as a harbinger of some elements of the Internet we enjoy today.
One of the earliest direct expressions of the vision imagined that “It will be possible for a business man in New York to dictate instructions, and have them instantly appear in type at his office in London or elsewhere.” Further, that “…an inexpensive instrument, not bigger than a watch will enable its bearer to…” deliver “…any picture, character, drawing or print … from...