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Simone Alves Nogueira
University of Westminster MA Design for Interaction History of Convergence Lecturer: Dr. Richard Barbrook
The advent of Internet is an important event in the History of the Communication. Internet has created new forms of communication and changed the way connected people interact with the new media. Since 1969 the network has been improved. All efforts to connect a computer to another in order to build a system of electronic links were completed. Options of access to information have been developed and people have been interacting in a new wide world space: virtual. In November 2005, Nielsen/IbopeNet Ratings, a company who provides the leading source of global information on consumer and business usage of the Internet1, researched about the use of Internet in ten countries2. The results demonstrated that Brazil broke the record for Internet using. Nielsen/IbopeNet Ratings demonstrated that 12,5 million Brazilians have navigated in the Internet using home computers and the time of navigated hours by day reached 17 hours and 53 minutes, making the country the leader of the use of Internet. Brazil is a leader as well in the use of communications tools in this media. The MSN, the popular Messenger from Microsoft, is the most used.3 This research illustrates the use of the internet today and how it has become popular. However, why have the Internet became popular and the most important technology in the 21st century? This essay attempts to understand the popularity of the Internet, starting from a retrospective in the history of the Net - mainly in the process of construction of the ARPANET - and its impact on modern life. Firstly, it is important to describe how the Internet was created and who were the organizations, scientists, academics and engineers involved in this process. Where and when it took place are important points to understand the importance of building this expensive networking. Secondly, it is a demand to understand why the Internet has become a social space where people create new networks. As the Internet improves, discussions about the
http://www.netratings.com/corp.jsp?section=cof&company=default Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States. 3 Agencia Estado - http://ultimosegundo.ig.com.br/materias/mundovirtual/22280012228500/2228191/2228191_1.xml
impact of this network on the society arise towards two poles of optimism and pessimism4. Diverse descriptions of author’s opinions will be presented in order to show different points of view in this subject. The 1960 decade was a period of a great deal of discussion and written papers about the US future. Threatened by the fear of the emergence of the Russian ideology towards the world and the rise of the Russian cybernetics movement, US started a strategy which involved the development of the technological innovation. The "Commission on the Year 2000" - a commission created in 1964 by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and which was leaded by Daniel Bell - was responsible to recruit "intellectuals representing different disciplines and interest groups (...) every section of the US elite would be involved in inventing the new imaginary future of the American empire." (Barbrook 2005: 116) The US wanted to show they were the country who could create a good society and were superior to the Russian regime. Influenced by the Marshall McLuhan concepts, who wrote the Understanding Media in 1964, the Bell commission had the vision that the future were in the machines and " technological innovation had become the impersonal force driving humanity towards the future." (Barbrook 2005: 118). The predictions of McLuhan were important to motivate the Bell commission to believe in the future of the information society and predict that the access to on-line database were a prominent fact. The computing and telecommunication fused with the television would start to be the representation of this future5. According to Barbrook "- as the process of convergence was implemented - humanity was moving towards its utopian destiny: the Net". (Barbrook 2005: 119) Additionally to the predictions of the new era of technology and communication the Bell commission anticipated as well the social and cultural impact on the society when the electronic and information systems were spread6. The rise of an information society would shape a new life for people. Castells explain that "this new social structure is associated with the emergence of a new mode of development, informationalism, historically shaped by the restructuring of the capitalist mode of production towards the end of the twentieth century." (Castells 1996: 14)
James Slevin, The Internet and Society, p. 46. Richard Barbrook, Imaginary Futures, p. 118. 6 Richard Barbrook, Imaginary Futures, p. 119.
4 October, 1957. USSR launched the Sputnik I, the first satellite that went into earth orbit. One month later Soviet Union launched the second one: Sputnik II. A fear of a nuclear attack and a Soviet domination contributed to the US Defense Department formed in 1958 the Advanced Research Projects Agency: ARPA. The Advanced Research Projects Agency was responsible for military science and technology research. Between 1959 and 1964 the US Government invested from $ 5 billion per year to $ 13 Billion annually in Research and Development. The Cold War was responsible for a new era for R & D7. In 1966, J.C.R. Licklider, an eminent psychologist - who worked at MIT, Lincoln Lab and BBN - presented in the Future of Technology seminar a report about a project to build the Net. At this time, Lickclider was at ARPA and was involved in the invention of computermediated communications8. Licklider was inspired by McLuhan as well and was convinced about the on-line future. For him "within a decade at most - every typewriter would be transformed into a terminal connected to a global network of mainframes. People would soon be able to access information from on-line data banks regardless of their geographical location." (Barbrook 2005: 125) Licklider believed in the transformation of the society as well. As soon as the technology was improved "citizens would directly participate in the democratic decision-making process." (Barbrook 2005: 125) Licklider was an important leader in ARPA. By the time he left in 1964, he had already built the idea of a networking not so much as a way to connecting computers, but as a way of connecting people9. His ideas were important to the ARPA following director, Bob Taylor, a director of a corporate research facility in Silicon Valley. In 1965, Bob Taylor obtained funding to start an experimental computer network. In that way, researchers from Universities funded by the US Government would share resources and experiments easily. Although they were in different parts of the country, the network would be able to connect each university to another. The problem was who could build such environment. Taylor invited Larry Roberts, from Lincoln Lab, to join ARPA. Although Roberts was reluctant in accept the invitation, he joined ARPA in 1966.
Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon, Where wizards stay up late: the origins of the internet, p. 20. Richard Barbrook, Imaginary Futures, p. 121. 9 James Slevin, The Internet and Society, p. 30.
Roberts started to build what he called Interface Message Processor (IMP). The IMP was an intermediate computer that would control the network. They should send and receive data, check errors and if the messages arrive at their destinations. In 1967, Roberts presented a paper in a computer conference, in Tennessee, called ARPANET. The ARPANET was a sum from developed earlier ideas to the own Roberts concepts. Four important names were involved in this process: Paul Baran, Donald Davies, Leonardo Kleinrock and Wes Clark. Paul Baran, from RAND Corporation, and Donald Davies, from the British National Physical Laboratory (NPL), developed in 1960 and 1965, respectively, a revolutionary idea: the packet-switching. This process would able the transmission of the information trough the networking into parts. Another important Baran’s idea was the distributed network which should be “composed of many nodes, each redundant and connect to its neighbour” (Hafner and Lyon 1998: 58). This original diagram could aid the system still works in case of a part of the system was damage from a military attack. The idea of a distributed network could offer many different routes for the packet information. Another important contribution in Roberts plan came from Leonardo Kleinrock, from Lincoln Laboratory, with your data flow theory, or queuing theory. Wes Clark, from Lincoln Lab, helped Roberts with the idea of a small computer between each host computer: the IMPs.
Figure 1 – Baran’s studies about networks.
BBN, Bold Beranek and Newman, was choose to work with ARPA to build the IMPs. Frank Heart, an “engineer with a reputation for making things happen” (Hafner and Lyon 1998: 87), was the director and conducted the construction of the new network closely. The BBN received more than $ 1 million only for build the first four IMPs. In September and October 1969, the two first IMPs prepared by BBN arrived at UCLA and SRI, respectively. These were the two first nodes in the building network. In November and December IMPs numbers three and four were delivered at UC Santa Barbara and UTAH. According to Castells “this university origin of the Net has been, and is, decisive for the development and diffusion of electronic communication throughout the world”. (Castells 1996: 355) In January 1970, the Network Working Group - a group of talented communication programmers – produced the Network Control Protocol (NCP) which “governed how packets of data were to be transmitted from one computer to another” (Slevin 2000: 32). The header aids the information to be delivered to the correct address. Each month one new mode was ship from BBN to a new host. In the end of 1970 fifteen IMPs were connect and flowing information.
Figure 2 – a) December 1969 - The first four nodes. b) December 1970 - The fifteen nodes
A new idea arose from a discussion between Heart’s team and Roberts about the possibility of a network without the host computers. It could make possible more users be connect to the network. In 1971 BBN developed the Telnet protocol, a mechanism that resolved the problem of the communication between the hosts.
For Heart it was time for a demonstration of the ARPA network (now DARPA, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). In 1972, the twenty-nine nodes, now widely referred as ARPANET, were demonstrated in the first International Conference on Computer Communication, in Washington DC. It was an important moment on the history where representatives from different countries such as Great Britain, Sweden, Norway, Japan, France, Canada and the United States 10 did the first contact with the network. In the conference a great number of people “entered the room sceptical of the ARPARNET and packet-switching. Many left believing the technology might be real after all.” (Hafner and Lyon 1998: 185) The idea of a network was spread and “resulted in the setting up of the InterNetwork Working Group which was to begin to discuss global interconnectivity” (Slevin 2000: 31). A first international connection was set up with Norway and Great Britain in 1973. While the Internet grew, another modality of communication spread through the network: email, or, as it was referred to, network mail. The first program which aid people to send electronic messages to each other was MAILBOX. This was in early 1960s, at MIT. But the MAILBOX had its utility only at MIT, exchanging messages locally. In 1972, Ray Tomlinson, at BBN, wrote a program which allowed people to send and receive messages in the ARPANET. At that time it was necessary to use two programs. To send messages one would use a program called SNDMSG; to receive an electronic-mail one would use READMAIL. The programs spread in the Internet and “there was nothing holding e-mail back from crossing the wider Net” (Hafner and Lyon 1998: 191). Tomlinson became famous as well for the decision he made when he chose the symbol @ to separate, in the e-mail address, the name of the user from the machine the user was on11. The meaning of “at” in the character was interesting as well to designate the institution. In 1973, an ARPA study found that 75% of the flux information on the ARPANET was e-mail12. In the same year Roberts improved the program and wrote the RD (for “read”), the first mail manager software. This program was developed with menu of messages, space for separated files, and delete option. In few time more mail programs were developed such as NRD, WRD, BANANARD, HG, MAILSYS, XMAIL 13 . It is important to stress that “the ARPANET was official federal government property, but network mail was being used for all manner of daily conversation.” (Hafner and
James Slevin, The Internet and Society, p. 31. Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon, Where wizards stay up late: the origins of the internet, p. 192. 12 Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon, Where wizards stay up late: the origins of the internet, p. 194. 13 Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon, Where wizards stay up late: the origins of the internet, p. 195.
Lyon 1998: 208). The e-mail development has an important meaning for understand the use of Internet nowadays. According to Marc A. Smith and Peter Kollock “technology has its most profound effect when it alters the ways in which people come together and communicate.” (Smith and Kollock 1999: 4) The Internet improved as soon as people realized that they could be connected to other people. In 1975 another fact improved the communication in the net: the electronic discussion group. The first network mailing list was Message Services Group, dubbed MsgGroup. According to Slevin the groups were so-called newsgroup, a discussion group associated with USENET14. The groups were organized hierarchically into different forums. In those discussions users participate “by posting their messages to the group and reading the reactions given by others.” (Slevin, 2000: 36). Michael Hauben and Ronda Hauben describe in their book Netizens: on the history and impact of Usenet and the Internet that the genesis of the word Netizens come from the culture of the newsgroup. The USENET newsgroup created names for the discussions such as net.general for general discussion, net.auto for discussion of autos. The idea of net.citizens inspired them to create the concept of Netizens where “the word Netizen reflects the new non-geographically based social membership” (Hauben and Hauben, 1997: preface). Hafner and Lyon stress that “the romance of the Net came not from how it was built or how it worked but from how it was used (…) the Net was a place to share work and build friendship and a more open method of communication”. (Hafner and Lyon 1998: 218) Additionally, Smith and Kollock explain that the use of a network such as conferencing systems like Usenet provide not only communication media but “group-media, sustaining and supporting many-to-many interactions.” (Smith and Kollock, 1999: 3) In 1998, there were tens of millions of e-mail users and thousands of public mailing list besides of hundred of thousands informal discussions list.15 But, before that, more improvement was necessary to make the Internet a world wide network. May 1974, an important work was developed by Bob Khan, who moved from BBN to ARPA, and Vint Cerf, from Stanford: the new Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), a net-to-net connection protocol16. The TCP started to be the mechanism that would connect worlds. At that time a survey from SRI estimated two thousand users in the net17. In that time, DARPA
James Slevin, The Internet and Society, p. 35. Marc A. Smith and Peter Kollock, Communities in Cyberspace, p. 5. 16 Computer History Museum (http://www.computerhistory.org/exhibits/internet_history/) 17 Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon, Where wizards stay up late: the origins of the internet, p. 230.
started to be managed by DCA, the Defense Communication Agency. Now DCA was responsible for the network. By 1977, three systems were demonstrated functioning with messages travelling through the network: packet radio, the ARPANET and SATNET. “The packets travelled 94,000 miles without dropping a single bit”. (Hafner and Lyon 1998: 236) In 1978, the Transmission Control protocol became TCP/IP, Internet Protocol. This became the most widely used network protocol in the world.18 As the connections were growing soon the ARPANET with the others networks come to be called the “Internet”. In 1979 academics started to discuss the possibility of building a new network: the Science Research Network (CSNET). This should be open to the academia, government and industry19. In the middle of the 1980s academics from Europe created their own networks and, soon, were connected to US Internet. As the system grew “Internet came to mean the loose matrix of interconnect TCP/IP networks world wide.” (Hafner and Lyon 1998: 245). In 1983, the Defense Communication Agency decided to split the network in two parts: MILNET, for sites carrying military information and the ARPANET, for the academic community. For the US Defense the system “became difficult to separate military-oriented research from scientific communication and from personal chatting” (Castells 1996: 352). Another important development occurred in the system: the Berkeley researchers adapted to UNIX operation system the TCP/IP protocol. This made possible computer to encode and decode data packets and flow in high speed trough the Internet network20. It was a flexible and portable, meaning it could be adapted to different computers. When Sun, a company from graduates from Stanford Business School, included the UNIX software to the every machine and sold it the networking exploded. The software was available just for the cost of distribution21. In that way,
“Local area networks and regional networks connected to each other, and started to spread anywhere where there were telephone lines and computers were equipped with modems, an inexpensive piece of equipment. (…) the net took the form of the
Internet History (http://www.livinginternet.com/i/ii_summary.htm) Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon, Where wizards stay up late: the origins of the internet, p. 242. 20 Manuel Castells, The rise of the Network Society, p. 352. 21 Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon, Where wizards stay up late: the origins of the internet, p. 250.
world wide web (www), a flexible network of networks within the Internet where institutions, business, associations, and individuals create their own sites.” (Castells 1996: 352)
The ARPANET became a place where software and documentation were available freely. Although the first half of the 1980s ARPANET was the centre of the network, with various networks surrounding it, by the late 1980s more people were using the NSF, a network funded by the National Science Foundation, because of its speed and the facility to connect to it. It was time to start to think about shut down ARPANET. It wasn’t an easy process, mainly for the network’s creators. The ARPA’s idea was to distributed the ARPANET’s sites to the others networks, such as NSFNET and MILNET. In 1989 ARPANET was shut down. Most of the IMPs were powered down and shipped away. Some of them went into service on the MILNET22 . At that time, from four nodes in 1969 the network grew to 300.000 hosts in 198923. In 1993, a web browser called Mosaic is created by a couple of students from the University of Illinois, at the National Centre for Supercomputing Applications. The browser would aid the users navigate in the network easily with a better interface. From now on, “individuals and organizations were able to interact meaningfully on what has become, literally, a World Wide Web of individualized, interactive communication.” (Castells 1996: 355) Although ARPANET didn’t exist anymore its concepts and original ideas remained. ARPANET “was by far the largest and most sophisticated network experiment in the world.” (Hafner and Lyon 1998: 187). According to Castell “the universality of the digital language and the pure networking logic of the communication system created the technological conditions for horizontal, global communication”. (Castells 1996: 352) The ARPANET created the spirit of contribution, decentralization, flexibility and individuality where “each one had her own voice and expects an individualized answer.” (Castell, 1996: 357). This resulted what is the Internet today. According to Hauben and Hauben
“The net allows for the meeting of minds to form and develop ideas. It brings people’s thinking process out of isolation and into the open. Every user of the Net gains the role of being special and useful (…) each user contributes to the whole
Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon, Where wizards stay up late: the origins of the internet, p. 256. Computer History Museum (http://www.computerhistory.org/exhibits/internet_history/)
intellectual and social value and possibilities of the Net.” (Hauben and Hauben 1997: 5)
By the end of 2005, the number of Internet users reached to 1.17 billion24. In the first years of 21st century the Internet allows people to send and receive e-mails; to participate in discussion lists; to chat - in synchronous communication - with text, video, pictures and audio; to play games with other people in different places in the world; to access and link to text documents, software, music, videos, audios, images, diverse sites with different subjects; to call to a telephone or mobile phone; make conferences and videoconferences, and so forth. Internet became a converged media which allows people to communicate in different ways and search for information whatever the time and place the person is located. And, the most important, as soon as you have access to a computer the access to the network is cheaper than other medias. A telephone line or a cable is what one need to be connected with the world. Skype, “the Global P2P Telephony Company™ that is changing the telecommunications world by offering consumers free, superior-quality calling worldwide”25, is an example of what the Internet can offer nowadays. With the slogan “the whole world can talk for free”, Skype make free calls over the Internet to anyone else who also has Skype. Calling regular phone numbers is not free but is cheaper than the normal telephony. Until January 2006, 228,369,468 downloads of the program were made from the Internet. According to Castells the development of the Internet is “characterized by its global reach, its integration of all communication media, and its potential interactivity is changing and will change for ever our culture.” (Castells 1996: 329) The impact of the Internet on our culture started to be discussed as soon as the network aroused. The opinions among authors diverge. Slevin presents what he calls the two poles: optimism and pessimism. According to Slevin, groups who seek to sell computer and Internet accounts tending to be in the positive pole. Other group is who is involved with the development of the Internet and believes that it is about to change the world. Michael Hauben and Ronda Hauben are among the authors who believe in the importance of the network. For them people who are connected have the opportunity to be involved in
“a powerful means for peaceful assembly. Peaceful assembly allows people to take control of their lives, rather than that control being in the hands of others. This
ClickZ Stats - Trends & Statistics (http://www.clickz.com/stats/sectors/wireless/article.php/587701) http://www.skype.com/company/
power deserves to be appreciated and protected. Any medium or tool that helps people hold or gain power is something special that has to be protected.” (Hauben and Hauben 1997: 26)
In their book Netizens, cited previously, they describe the research they did with Internet users. The results of the research take them to affirm that people’s lives have been improved since they started to be connected. For them a more democratic world is becoming real. The possibility of communication with new people has alleviated feelings of loneliness, helping them to be immersed in a socially and intellectually virtual world, a world which is open for all. Different resources are available in the virtual world. Internet provides collaborative work and improves the quality of everyday life. Besides, the network aid people to find work and improve their skills. In the positive side is Al Gore. According to him “our new ways of communicating will entertain as well as inform. More importantly, they will educate, promote democracy, and save lives. And in the process they will also create a lot of new jobs. In fact, they’re already doing it”. (In Smith and Kollock 1994: 4) It’s not difficult to see the Al Gore vision. It is large the use of tools to communicate people to people, the increase of Virtual Distance Learning is a fact, and the number of company and employees involved in the construction of business and sites in the Internet is uncountable. For the positives point of view the Internet creates opportunities for employment, political participation, entertainment, and most important: supporting interaction between people. The possibility of interaction in synchronous - people can communicate in a real time - and asynchronous times are other positive view of the media. Time and space have another meaning in a virtual space. People can organize themselves to communicate in different ways and different tools as “it has become a site for interaction” (Smith and Kollock 1999: 7) Slevin presents another side of the discussion: the pessimism pole. For some people Internet has been a place fulfilled of eroding communities and, more important, a place were individuals and organizations can become dispersed and “rendered powerless by the fragmenting of experience, resulting in conditions which preclude, rather than facilitate, collaborative action.” (Slevin 2000: 50) According to Smith and Kollock the pessimist vision is demonstrated as well by the critics which see Internet as a “darker outcome in which individuals are trapped and ensnared in a ‘net’ that predominantly offers new opportunities for surveillance and social control.” (Smith and Kollock 1999: 4). For the critics the Internet and
networks will increase the concentration of power instead of increase the power of individuals26. Wellman and Gulia27 present an article with interesting discussion about Virtual communities as communities. In this text they present as well the positive and negative sides of Internet. On one hand they show many enthusiastic people with the media. One example comes from Barlow28:
“With the development of the Internet, and with the increasing pervasiveness of communication between networked computers, we are in the middle of the most transforming technological event since the capture of fire. ... I want to be able to completely interact with the consciousness that’s trying to communicate with mine. Rapdly … We are now creating a space in which the people of the planet can have that kind of communication relationship.” (Wellman and Gulia In Smith and Kollock 1999: 168)
On the other hand they explain that many critics are worried with the people relationship as
“…life on the Net can never be meaningful or complete because it will lead people away from the full range of in-person contact. Or, conceding half of the debate, they worry that people will get so engulfed in a simulacrum virtual reality, that they will lose contact with ‘real life’.” (Wellman and Gulia In Smith and Kollock 1999: 168)
In the pessimistic side, Mark Slouka, author of War of the Worlds: Cyberspace and the HiTech Assault on Reality assert that people want “to escape from the problems and issues of the real world.” (Slouka in Smith and Kollock 1999: 169). But the sociologists have researched that communities in the Internet provides contacts of kin, friends and workmates 29 what changes the concept of community in a specific real space to a social networks. Besides, the Internet is not the unique place where people connect to each other. People have maintained relationships in the both space: online and in real life. Additionally there is another important discussion about the influence of the Internet in people’s life: identity. The opinions and arguments vary. On the one hand the optimistic
Marc A. Smith and Peter Kollock, Communities in Cyberspace, p. 4. In Smith and Kollock, Communities in Cyberspace, p. 167. 28 (Barlow et al. 1995: 40) 29 Marc A. Smith and Peter Kollock, Communities in Cyberspace, p. 169.
believes that gender, race and age are not a way of discrimination in the Internet. As the communication in the Internet is different from a face-to-face communication some people believe that “because people’s physical appearance is not manifest online [in some communications tools], individuals will be judge by the merit of their ideas, rather than by their gender, race, class or age.” (Smith and Kollock 1999: 9) On the other hand, in a pessimism pole, there is who believes that “traditional status hierarchies and inequalities are reproduced in online interaction and perhaps are even magnified”.(Smith and Kollock 1999: 9) A pessimistic vision came from Castells. As he explain, the computer-mediated communication expands largely but
“It will exclude for a long time the large majority of humankind, unlike television and other mass media. (…) The computer-mediated communication starts as the medium of communication for the most educated and affluent segment of the population of the most educated and affluent countries, and more often than not in the largest and most sophisticated metropolitan areas.” (Castells 1996:358)
Castells argument can be represented by a research made by IPSA, a private independent company for marketing, consumer and public opinion research, founded in 1991. The company researched in 1999 the awareness of the Internet and intentions of the use, characteristics of Internet users, characteristics of Internet usage, and Pre-conditions for using the Internet. A part of the results are presented below:
“Nearly one-fourth of the Croatian population has never heard of the Internet, and 28 percent have heard of it but aren't really sure what it is (…) The majority of Internet users in Croatia live in the most developed regions of the nation, specifically the capital, Zagreb, and the northern coast, Istria and Primorje. More than half (52 percent) of Internet users live in four large cities. Forty percent live in smaller towns, and 1 percent lives in smaller settlements not far from big cities.” (IPSA 1999)30
Another research made by CGI.br, Comitê Gestor da Internet no Brasil, demonstrate more latter results about the use of the Internet. Although Brazil is a leader in the use of the Internet, only 32% of the Brazilians have used the Internet and 41% access the Internet for academic purposes against 31% that access for personal purposes. It means that 68% of the Brazil population have never used the Internet. Alexandre Magalhães, Ibope/NetRatings Analyst Coordinator, explain that this is a reality of the country where there is a strong income
concentration31. Magalhães explanation illustrates the Castells argument about the exclusion that the Internet can cause in countries where there are strong social divisions. Although there are divergent opinions about the impact of the Internet on the society many authors who wrote about this subject affirm the same: the Internet changed our culture about communication. To communicate in the 21st century has diverse meanings and the people are able to choose and create the way they want to communicate. The society is able to communicate through one, two or more converged tools in the Internet at the same time or choose a specific one for a specific situation. If one wants to debate about a specific subject she can create a site, or participate in a forum or send e-mails presenting her point of view. People are creating new ways of communication in the Internet as well trough Blogs, Photoblogs, online communities, and so forth. The Internet nowadays is a space of different possibilities. It is hard to define it as a “good” or “bad” technology but it is rather to understand it as a place where is possible to have an effective communication and access information which were impossible to access some years ago. In the past, the development of other Medias and its impact on the society were discussed deeply as well and, as in the Internet discussion, people were divided between pessimism and positivism pole. The difference from the others medias is that the Internet has a strong focus in different ways of communication between people-to-people. It is not the unique way of people communication but the Internet provides more new possibilities to connect people in the same environment. Internet is still in development and predicts its future is a hard work. By now what is possible to affirm is that the Internet integrates different tools making possible a global network that changed in the last years the way communication takes place. Licklider predicted all this changes in the 1960s with the publication of his seminar paper Man-Computer Symbiosis:
“The hope is that in not too many years, human brains and computing machines will be coupled… tightly, and that the resulting partnership will think as no human brain has ever thought and process data in a way not approached by the information-machines we know today.” (Licklider in Hafner and Lyon 1998: 35)
The Licklider prediction is a reality in people life at present.
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Bibliography BARBROOK, Richard. Imaginary Futures. 2005. www.imaginaryfutures.net BARBROOK, Richard. Media freedom: the contradictions of communication in the age of modernity. London: Pluto, 1995. CASTELLS, Manuel. The Rise of the Network Society. Malden: Blackwell Publishers Inc, 1996. HAFNER, Katie and LYON, Matthew. Where wizards stay up late: the origins of the Internet. New York: Touchstone, 1998. HAUBEN, Michael and HAUBEN, Ronda. Netizens: on the History and Impact of Usenet and the Internet. Los Alamitos: IEEE Computer Society Press, 1997. McLUHAN, Marshall. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. New York: MCGrawHill Book Company, 1964. SLEVIN, James. The Internet and Society. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2000. SMITH, Marc and KOLLOCK, Peter. Communities in Cyberspace. London: Routledge, 1999.
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