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Internet inventors say it would be banned if started today!

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  • Internet inventors say it would be banned if started today!

    ComputerActive issue 154 (8 - 21 January) reports on the celebrations for the 30th anniversary of ARPANET, the predecessor of the internet. Founders Dr Robert Kahn, Vincent Cerf and and Peter Kirstein took the opportunity to point out that, had the net's potential to disseminate information been forseen, 'it's unlikely that commercial and government bodies would ever have let it happen.'

    Alarming? Unsurprising? It's distinctly weird thinking that we're all operating in an environment that, given a magic wand, the mandarins would simply erase from existence if they could. I just hope that Captain Buggerly Otherly and his associates are keeping an eye on the situation. : )

  • #2
    Didn't ARPANET start out as a way for the US military to keep their computer system on line in a nuclear war (by decentralising the computer network)?

    In China 74 million people now log on to the internet (although the government censors what people can see I think).

    I heard somewhere that half the worlds people are so poor that they havn't made a phone call so access is very unequal.

    Even though a lot of people are not on the internet they often have radios. I help out at our local community radio station 4zzz and we download stories that people post up all the time and then broadcast them to our audience.

    Even protest demonstrations are now organised over the internet. I'm sure the governments don't like that aspect - although they probably like the commercial aspects of the internet.
    :-) flamingo


    • #3
      Yep - that's exactly how it started - designed to be robust enough to cope with failure or attacks on multiple nodes of the network.

      There is a big however these days though, and what allows the Chinese and other governments and law enforcement agencies, etc, to monitor or block internet use - very few of us are directly connected to the Internet, but connect via Internet Service Providers.

      Equally, the commercialisation of the Internet has introduced flaws - I recall reading somewhere that someone had established there were certain mega-nodes (between 10 and 20) that were critical to the Internet. Something like 70% of transatlantic traffic is carried by one cable / cable operator for instance. Commercial pressure has recentralised certain functions.

      As many Chinese have found there are usually ways around whatever blockage is put up (until the plumbers fix the leak).

      Still, there is talk of Internet 2 : much faster, and of course designed with all those flaws removed. And that's the unfortunate thing - there's no way to get rid of spam without removing the freedom of speech and anonymity the net allows.

      Of course, much the same has been said about books, which have alarmed governments for hundreds of years.


      • #4

        I happen to live in China.

        The censorship of the Internet here is very real, but it's of little consequence in the greater scheme of Chinese affairs. They don't block pornography, although they have in the past claimed that blocking pornography is the reason for the existence of the Great Firewall of China. What they do filter out is traffic from domains where people can get free Web space: geocities, angelfire, and their ilk. Most news sites are NOT blocked, although is unavailable.

        If you've got a friend outside of China with access to a server, you can set up a redirector that will allow you to access any of the blocked sites... but you have to keep it to yourself, or it will end up being flooded with traffic. I had one, but it's gone down, which is a bit of a nuisance because I can't get to my blog to update it, among other things.

        Life here is probably not at all like you imagine.

        M OTIS BEARD


        • #5
          Originally posted by flamingo
          Didn't ARPANET start out as a way for the US military to keep their computer system on line in a nuclear war (by decentralising the computer network)?

          Actually, that's nothing more than an oft-repeated myth... an urban legend. Here's a quote from http://www.informationheadquarters.c.../ARPANET.shtml

          The ARPANET and nuclear attacks

          The Internet Society writes about this merge of technologies in A Brief History of the Internet and states in a note:

          It was from the RAND study that the false rumor started claiming that
          the ARPANET was somehow related to building a network resistant to
          nuclear war. This was never true of the ARPANET, only the unrelated
          RAND study on secure voice considered nuclear war. However, the
          later work on Internetting did emphasize robustness and survivability,
          including the capability to withstand losses of large portions of the
          underlying networks.

          The myth that ARPANET was built to withstand nuclear attacks however remains such a strong and apparently appealing idea and of course "a good story" that many people refuse to believe it is not true. However it is not, unless one means that these ideas influenced the ARPANET development by way of the RAND research papers. ARPANET was later extended to survive network losses, but the main reason was actually that the apparatus and network links were sensitive, even without any nuclear attacks.
          Don't believe everything you hear!

          M OTIS BEARD


          • #6
            There's nothing wrong with the Internet itself, it's peoples usage of it that has always been the problem.

            The Internet is almost the free world many desire in electronic format, because of the anonymity, peoples thoughts and secrets are 'revealed' and free speech can be communicated. Is this dangerous? It can be....

            From an Eco point of view, it saves an awful lot of paper and that in itself is a plus side.

            I think new technologies are always pushed through and the debating is done later. I don't know the exact origins of the Internet but if things have a use they are generally used.