History of the InternetConceptual Beginnings1945 - Vannevar Bush proposes the “memex” a system for managing information and communication.“A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, andwhich is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and ﬂexibility.”1948 - Norbert Wiener publishes Cybernetics, focusing on the use of computer technology as a meansto extend human capabilities.1956 Dartmouth Artiﬁcial Intelligence (AI) conference gave birth to the ﬁeld of AI, focusing on thepotential for information technology to be of beneﬁt to human beings in a profound way.“The study is to proceed on the basis of the conjecture that every aspect of learning or any otherfeature of intelligence can in principle be so precisely described that a machine can be made tosimulate it.” Dartmouth AI Project Proposal; J. McCarthy et al.; Aug. 31, 1955.1964- Marshall McLuhan describes the idea of the global village, the concept of a global village, aworld interconnected by an electronic nervous system (the media) described much of what we now callthe real time web long before it really existed.
History of the InternetPhysical Beginnings1962- The US Airforce commissions research into a networkwhich could withstand a nuclear attack1969 - First communications are made across ARPANET, anetwork linking 4 Universities1973 - Introduction of TCP/IP the protocol allows diversecomputer networks to interconnect and communicate with eachother.1979 Launch of USENET, a distributed internet discussionsystem allows users to read and post messages and share ﬁles.1984 - The ARPANET was divided into two networks: MILNETand ARPANET.1990 - Tim Berners-Lee and CERN implement a hypertextsystem1992 - World-Wide Web released by CERN.
The Network SocietyNetworks provide a framework for the exchange of ideas, information, services and goods.Networks develop and exchange cultures and play a vital part in the economyNetworks can be seen as the deﬁning features of our society, in The Rise of the Network Society(1996) sociologist Manuell Castells describes the network society as-“a society where the key social structures and activities are organized around electronicallyprocessed information networks.”Castells argues that we are passing from the industrial age into the information age, an age whereinformation is what underpins our economy and society.To say we live in a network society implies that networks effect politics, economics, culture and ourpersonal lifes. Can you think of examples of networks effecting these areas?Van Dijk (2012) calls networks the ‘Nervous System of Society’ and describes the shift from a MassSociety to a Network Society where we move from a society based on large, distinct centralizedgroups which are locally connected; to fragmented, dispersed networks of individual which connecton both a local and global level.
Van Dijk’s 7 ‘laws’ of the web1. The Law of Network articulation - That therelations are more important than the units theyconnect.2. The Law of network externality - The ‘networkeffect’, that the network effects things that aren’t on it.3. The Law of network extension - When networksbecome too large the use internal intermediaries suchas search engines.4. The law of small worlds - The ‘six degrees ofseparation’ effect.5.The law of limits to attention - As the web growsthe audience shrinks6. The power law in networks - Those units with themost links attract the most7. The law of trend ampliﬁcation - Networksreinforce existing social structures
New identitiesThe beginnings of the internet were, and to some extent still are, largely textbased. Systems such as email and bulletin boards and forums allowedpeople to form relationships without having ever seen each other. This raisesquestions over the importance of ‘seeing’ and also over the role of identityand the images we create of ourselves.For some this represents the fragmented and performative nature of identity,that we are not a uniﬁed self but rather we adapt and change our identitydepending on circumstance. Some argued that this had positive effects, thatpeople could be who they wanted without people judging them on theiraccent, race, or gender, it erases preconceptions.There are also negative aspects such as grooming or tales such as the malepsychiatrist assuming the identity of a disabled woman to gain the trust ofwomen in online discussion groups reported in Sturken and Cartright whichillustrate the importance of visibility and have been used a cautionary tales ofthe ‘danger’ of the internet.
New identitiesMiller (2011) reports that early exploration of internet cultures focused on,and were excited by the possibility of, the following -1. Anonymity online providing greater freedom than the ofﬂine world.2. People have the freedom to perform the identity they choose (not oneassumed of them)3. That multiple selves can be explored in parallel, allowing identity shiftingand ﬂuidity.4. That identities can be created that are impossible in the ofﬂine world.This ﬂuid and fragmented self has been contested with others such asGiddens and Castells arguing that our desire for a clear identity online(personal pages, blogs, facebook) is a reaction to the fragmented nature ofour lifes. Miller, Vincent. Understanding Digital Culture 2011Sherry Turkle, originally a proponent of the ﬂuid identity that the web offers,has more recently warned of the perils of ‘Multi- lifeing’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtLVCpZIiNs&feature=related
New identitiesmouchette.org is an interactivewebsite and net art projectcreated in 1996 by ananonymous Amsterdam-basedartist who calls him/herself"Mouchette".Written by a ﬁctional 12 year oldthe website deals with a widerange of taboo subjects such aschild suicide and sexuality.Regarded as a hugely inﬂuentialnet art project of internationalimportance mouchette.org fueleddebate around both its taboosubject matter and the role ofonline identity.To what extent is your identity onfacebook or twitter or whateveryour social network of choice atrue reﬂection of your identity.
From Consumption to Production“the internet and the World Wide Webhave dramatically changed the powerrelations between producers andconsumers” Sturken and CartwrightWhilst TV was essentially a one way media thatonly a select few had access to the means ofproduction, the internet provides anyone with aninternet connection the potential to distribute mediaand voice their opinions globally. Rather than beingconsumers of media we can be producers.What does this change mean for democracy? Andwhat does this mean for traditional mediaproducers?Access to low cost software and hardware hasallowed us all to become media producers has thisbeen to the advantage of us as individuals or doesit beneﬁt the network providers?
From Consumption to ProductionA prominent net art project andact of protest which highlights thedemocratic power of the internetis the Electronic DisturbanceTheatre’s (EDT) 1998 zapatistatactical ﬂoodnet.The piece invited users to run anapplet which repeatedly loadednonexistent webpages fromtargeted sites such as those ofthe Mexican Stock Exchange andthe Chase Manhattan Bank. Withthe ultimate aim of crashing thesesites through a D.O.S attack
Internet and the remixMuch of the technology that underpins the internet is based on Open Sourcesoftware such as the LAMP stack (Linux Apache MySQL PHP) the set ofsoftware used to power many web servers. The ethos behind the OpenSource movement, that people are free to rework and redistribute software isreﬂected by one of the fastest growing forms of self expression in recentyears, remix culture.Remix culture is not new, appropriation and détournement were integral partsof the dada situationist movements, the beatles borrowed from chuck berryand its been many years since Pablo Picasso declared “Good Artists borrow,Great Artists Steal”. The internet provides access to a never before seenquantity of media for artists to appropriate, rework, remix and make thereown, a practice applauded by some but viewed as theft by others.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zd-dqUuvLk4
Internet and the remixMany prominent artists working in the ﬁelds of net art anddigital art can be seen to integrate the ethos of open sourceand the remix into their work.Empire 24/7 (1999) by Wolfgang Staehle appropriated muchof its concept and imagery from Andy Warhol’s Empire. In thishomage to Andy Warhol, which originally appeared as aprojected environment in the 1999 exhibit «net_condition» inKarlsruhe, Germany a web camera continuously streamedfootage of the Empire State Building.-http://www.medienkunstnetz.de/works/empire24-7/Cory Arcangel’s work also focuses on remixing and hackingare a core part of his practice. In Super Mario Clouds,Arcangel hacked the game and modiﬁed it so that all thatremains of the game are the white clouds on a blue skyhttp://www.beigerecords.com/cory/Things_I_Made/SuperMarioCloudsWhilst this form of creation may be artistically credible italmost certainly isn’t legally accepted as by its nature itbreaches copyright. Creative Commons aims to create a newway for creators to license their work which allows people touse their work under a range of different licences. Founded in2001 over 130 million pieces of work were licensed under thecreative commons agreement by 2008
Beyond the visual webThe internet has moved from a text based to a visualmedium. The next iteration of the web though, theinternet of things, will increasingly see a move towardsour encounters with the internet being more tangible.What will this furthering blurring of the virtual mean forvisual culture?How should we read artworks such as Caleb Larsens‘If it bleeds it leads’.How could the next generation of internet connecteddevices effect the media?In our increasingly always on and participatorycommunication media has our expectations of how weengage with visual culture changed. Do we expect toengage with design and art rather than viewing /consuming?http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/video/2012/nov/21/art-digital-age-video-internet-week
Further ReadingCastells, M. The rise of the network society 1996 (online)Dijk, Van, J. The Network Society. 3rd Edition 2012 SageSTURKEN, M., & CARTRIGHT, L. 2001. Practices of Looking- AnIntroduction to Visual Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Miller, V., Understanding Digital Culture 2011 SageMirzoeff, N., An Introduction to Visual Culture, 2009 RoutledgeTribe, M., & Jana, R., New Media Art 2006 Taschenhttp://creativecommons.org/