The Internet At 40: A Promise Deciphered - InformationWeek
IoT
IoT
Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
10/30/2009
03:23 PM
50%
50%
RELATED EVENTS
Building Security for the IoT
Nov 09, 2017
In this webcast, experts discuss the most effective approaches to securing Internet-enabled system ...Read More>>

The Internet At 40: A Promise Deciphered

The Internet turned 40 yesterday, and it got me thinking about its relationship to the time and place in which it was invented. The happenstance of its first message belies why it wasn't just an innovation or improvement, but a truly disruptive technology.

The Internet turned 40 yesterday, and it got me thinking about its relationship to the time and place in which it was invented. The happenstance of its first message belies why it wasn't just an innovation or improvement, but a truly disruptive technology.In 1844, Samuel Morse send the first telegraph message from the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, DC, to the B & O Railroad Depot in Baltimore, MD. He typed "What hath God wrought?" (or so most people believe), which was a Bible-inspired rhetorical statement of fear and wonder. It suggests that he was aware of the miracle that was instantaneous long-distance communication, which went on to change everything from our concept of time, to what qualified as news and truth.

Alexander Graham Bell spoke in 1876 into the telephone he'd invented and declared "Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you!" Could this have meant that he recognized the immediacy and personal qualities of the gizmo in his hands? The telephone changed our conceptions of space and community, enabling far-flung individuals to feel a part of a greater whole.

I can't find the exact first words uttered on the first radio and television broadcasts, but my gut tells me that they were commercial. Both media came into being hand-in-hand with mercenary desires to sell stuff; they wouldn't exist without advertising having been there since the very beginning. I know that the first live satellite broadcast was of the Beatles singing "All You Need Is Love" in 1969 (part of a program linking spots around the globe in a "One World" telecast). This content fit snugly into the era's hopeful desire for peace.

What were the first words transmitted from UCLA via the ARPANET to the Stanford Research Institute?

"Lo."

Granted, the system crashed before the user to finish typing "login," but it's telling that even the entire word would have been utterly devoid of meaning at the time. No promise about what the device meant, whether then or in the creative imaginations of its inventors (about whom the planned message gave no human insight).

"Lo" was pure nonsense, and yet it befitted a technology that found uses and applications that nobody could have predicted. It was the biggest idea of the 20th Century (other than state-sponsored mass murder). Saying anything more would have been simply incomplete, or otherwise dated the moment with the nostalgic silliness of limited vision. It wasn't an innovation, but a disruption.

Now at 40, we've deciphered the promise of the Internet by using it.

Lo [and behold].

Jonathan Salem Baskin is a global brand strategist, writes the Dim Bulb blog, and is the author of Bright Lights & Dim Bulbs.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of IT Report
In today's technology-driven world, "innovation" has become a basic expectation. IT leaders are tasked with making technical magic, improving customer experience, and boosting the bottom line -- yet often without any increase to the IT budget. How are organizations striking the balance between new initiatives and cost control? Download our report to learn about the biggest challenges and how savvy IT executives are overcoming them.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll