Sunday, January 24, 2010

Where are you on the internet?

From the Opte project: A visual map of the internet from 2005

When I started college in 1996, I had a telnet and a gopher account to go online. I remember just a few websites that had pictures and no movies. When I got back from Nicaragua, the inventor of Napster came to talk at BYU about the future of the internet and intellectual property. Ironically, around that same time, I watched a pirated version of the Lord of the Rings someone from the lab had downloaded from the internet before it came out in theaters.

The internet has grown and grown. It has infiltrated almost every home and cell phone in the US and across the world. This is a universe of information that for the most part is freely accessible. I did almost all of my research for my last paper sitting at my desk and querying databases and the internet. I have 1000s of .pdf files saved on my harddrive that just a few years ago I would have printed out and bound.

I get emails now from friends in Nicaragua that live in towns where we struggled to find a telephone and had electricity only part of the day. Crazy.

I was just thinking today as I was reading a sci-fi novel that our present didn't turn out like the future depicted in the book: No flying cars, no fusion powered vacuum cleaners, no settlements on mars or the moon, no aliens with consulates in Chicago, no interstellar travel. Now none of that seems plausible for our future, but if someone had described the internet to me 20 years ago I would have thought that was pretty absurd also. So who knows. Maybe.

from - illustration map of the internet

From Discover magazine 2006- diagram of how data moves around the world on the internet. with representation of the world as a flat disc.

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