Weaving the Web Response

A point raised in our last discussion was the advantages and disadvantages of true understanding of how the computer works It was asserted that there are many electronics that we use and have absolutely no idea how they function, and this article reveals how true this is in terms of the internet. Prior to reading I had no idea how anything on the Internet worked, or even what “http” or “URI” or any of the acronyms associated meant. I think this ignorance is especially true for our current generation since the Internet was just something that was always there, something that we grew up with. We never question where it came from or how it came to be, but rather have immediately starting interaction. Reading this piece made me realize how ignorant I am. It occurred to me that I don’t even know how things are saved on websites.  I would think that the site itself has some sever that things are saved to, but is there some cloud that all things are saved to? Also who would have access to said cloud, and is privacy of the Internet even possible then?

Another interesting part of the article was how the Internet wasn’t really popular at first, and Tim Berner’s Lee really needed to push for it. It wasn’t even an official CERN funded project; Lee worked on it in his spare time. He needed to go from source to source in order to find the right funding and help for his project. The Internet today is ubiquitous and probably the most popular form of media. It is interesting that those in the past didn’t see the potential the Internet had. Lee also mentions the Memex, and it seems that he took that idea and really ran with it. He calls Lee, Engelbart, and Nelson ahead of their times, which is ironic because it seems that Lee was ahead of his time too. Those around him, much like the contemporaries of the men he mentioned, didn’t see the potential and if they did couldn’t really help. Lee and the internet were the synergistic combination of all of his predecessor’s efforts, and a real testament to the type of knowledge sharing that these men wanted.

In one of my other classes, we watched the movie Dr. Strangelove, a movie in which the nuclear arms race is satirically discussed. In the movie, the Doomsday Device (a device that would essentially end life on earth as we know it) can only be activated by a computer, and would go off in the event that a human tried to disarm it. The movie explained this as trying to take the human element out of nuclear war. It makes me think though how quickly society has become intertwined with computers and the Internet. The whole Y2K scare was almost 15 years ago, and the thought of computers not working into the new millennium was unthinkable. Now think 15 years later how interdependent our lives have become and how devastating a loss of Internet would be. This article was written in 1999, which shows how relatively knew the Internet is. While I am not asserting that the Internet is inherently bad in any way shape or form, it is important to discuss the ramifications of our Internet dependence.

2 thoughts on “Weaving the Web Response

  1. I agree with you in that it seems as though Berners-Lee seemed to be very influenced by the ideas of Bush, Nelson, and Engelbart, but what seemed strange in his writings was that he continued to claim he did not know of these men and their work in his early stages of thinking. For example, Berners-Lee states “Unbeknownst to me at that early stage in my thinking, several people had hit upon similar concepts,” and then he goes on to explain the idea of the Memex, project Xanadu, and the mouse. This was strange because Berners-Lee continued to reinforce the idea that he did not know about these people until later. For example, he states “I didn’t see [it] until 1994.” I thought it was somewhat strange that he felt the need to restate this fact. For a man who was a great visionary with a great idea, it seemed somewhat funny that he felt the need to say this things as if to prove he was an original thinker. However, even if he did not know of the works of these people in his early stages of work, it seems inevitable that he would not be influenced by them in the future. Although he tries to prove his original idea was imaginative on its own, the final project of the Web came from a variety of different influences in addition to his idea.

    1. That’s an interesting point that I didn’t notice. You would think for a man that wants a network where people can share and build ideas he wouldn’t mind mentioning that he built of the ideas of his predecessors. Perhaps it is a pride thing, or perhaps he just wasn’t aware of this history and just felt like emphasizing that. Definitely an interesting thought.

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