The Internet: Doing the Dreaming of Tomorrow
‘Doing the Dreaming of Tomorrow’ is a new series of posts discussing newly found technology that will shape our futures for the good, the bad or the pointless. In this post I will be talking about the Internet’s very own big bang and where it started to where it is going and all the other stuff in-between.
We often measure the value of an innovation by its ability to disrupt the status quo, and in our lifetime has there been anything more disruptive in human history than the internet?
The Internet is most definitely on par with the invention of the wheel, fire and languages. No invention in history has grown so fast and to touch so many lives. Peter Salvus, best known for his books on the history of computing, particularly A Quarter Century of UNIX and Casting the Net said this about the internet; “The internet is an incredible communications tool that allows us instant access to things happening everywhere”.
First, let’s back up a little bit, the Internet is a new phenomenon first conceived up in the 1960’s by computer scientist J.C.R Licklider. He envisioned a network of computers he called the ‘Galactic Network’ which would allow humans to share information instantly. Such networks were established in universities and government facilities in America and Europe. Overtime multiple networks with different functions fused, becoming the internet.
In 1995, 15 million people were connected, by 2000 350 million were connected, in 2005 over 1 billion were connected and in the coming years we should reach 3 billion connected users. To accommodate this massive growth, we’ve covered our planet in an expansive undersea cable network that is only becoming more expansive. But obviously the changes that have taken place aren’t just quantitative, we all know the internet has evolved from a passive, unorganised and asocial to something that is now active, alerting you to interests, organised search engines and incredibly social connecting you to friends and people all over the world.
Remember, Google only emerged in 1998, Wikipedia in 2001, Facebook 2004 and Youtube and Twitter in 2006. A world without these services now seems like ancient history and they are more than just fantastic communication services that give you access to all world knowledge; they are also memory enhancers. Imagine if we could read Leonardo Devinci’s blog, Charles Darwin’s Facebook timeline and Albert Einstein’s Twitter feed. For the rest of our lives we can curate and preserve our stream of thought on these mediums.
These platforms allow us to build collections of communities but we are also joining these communities on new collections of technology. First the PC, then the laptop, smartphone and tablet; now we are starting to connect with smart watches, wearables and soon to be clothes. So is this going to be the next big thing for technology? Everyday items that now have a digital twist?