ARPANET formed as a military-scientific project with but four nodes linked throughout American universities and was intended for use complex calculations, but was use predominately as a communication device.
Though used primarily to discuss research, some users of ARPANET used its netmail function to talk about the watergate scandal and Vietnam. ARPANET was brought to the American public&#x2019;s attention two years after its creation while military intelligence had started to collect information about the location of firehouses and police stations in large American Cities. A pentagon official also added the locations of local troublemakers, outraging the American public. They were ordered to destroy all related files, but chose to violate a court order and just move the files to a different location over ARPANET.
In 1991 ARPANET was taken over by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and military restrictions were lifted. ARPANET began to see international use throughout Europe and Asia, but still lacked a common agreed upon language. TCP/IP became the agreed upon language to transfer information from computer to computer across national borders.
On Mayday 1995, the NSF allowed the internet to be used for commercial use, with companies like Disney, AOL, CNN, and MCI at the forefront, but it wasn&#x2019;t until the late 1990s that the internet became as heavily utilized for commercial use. As American writer Nick Carr comments, &#x201C;by the end of 1995, half of all sites bore .com addresses, and by mid-1996 commercial sites represented nearly 70 percent of the total. Three decades after the summer of love, young people began flocking to San Francisco once again, but they didn&#x2019;t come to listen to free verse or drop acid. They came to make a killing.&#x201D; The web began a shift from individually designed websites, which were hosted by small ISPs, to large, centrally hosted, corporate service platforms: very many customers using services offered by very few enterprises. Half of all web traffic is now concentrated on only ten websites.
In late 1999, activists in the pacific northwest began to protest the World Trade Organization&#x2019;s office in Seattle for their treatment of small, economically developing countries. The protests made a small impact ad commercial journalists misconstrued their reasons for protesting. The Interned Media Center or Indymedia was formed for internet coverage of the protests. The site still functions as an outlet for citizen journalists to host their news in text, photo, and video formats.
During the Kosovo War, a Serb writing under the name &#x201C;insomnia&#x201D; posted live accounts of what he or she witnessed outside a window using the mailing list service <nettime>. Insomnia was one of very few voices heard because of his live coverage over the net.
In 2003, several anonymous bloggers started to report from inside the war-zone in Iraq. An anonymous Iraqi blogger using the pseudonym &#x201C;Salam Pax&#x201D; described daily life in Iraq using the service Blogger and allowed westerners to gain a perspective unavailable from any other news sources.
Since 1962 Burma has lived under military rule, prompting the government to close down borders to all journalists at the time of any sort of uprise. In 2007, anti-government protests erupted in Burma. Burmese citizens took photos and videos from inside and sent them to the BBC. A facebook group called &#x201C;Support the Monk&#x2019;s Protest in Burma was established and the struggle was spread across the web, bringing attention to the repressive regime.
During the 2008/2009 Israel-Gaza conflict, Israel banned all journalists from the war zone. Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube became sole the sole news outlets from the inside. Palestinians would have been absent from international discussion on what was happening in Gaza without these devices. Israelis and Palestinians also developed facebook applications that would take over users status updates with new from Gaza. Israelis developed the Qassam Count, that generated alerts every time a rocket was launched. More than 70,000 users added the app.
Second Life now features an Avatar Action Center that provides education on real life conflict. Avatars march back and forth holding signs and banners. Other sites like Activist Passions provide dating services solely for people who consider themselves activists. Do these sites make a difference? Is this even activism?
Social Networking sites like Facebook and SMS texting have been successfully used to organize protests, but is this information secure?
Activists need to be aware of what they are giving away on the web. NewsCorp owns 170 million Myspace profiles. Who owns our content? Who profits from the content we generate? Amazon, Myspace, Youtube, and Facebook are all free to do what they would like with our content. The internet has undoubtedly been beneficial for activists, but it appears that they have, for the most part, overlooked the fact that the majority of the services they use for organization are owned by large corporations that contribute heavily to the causes they&#x2019;re fighting.
collin citron - 26 april, 2010 [intro to media design - trebor scholz]