Internet \in"ter*net\, n. A deeply misunderstood technology upon which we increasingly depend 1

A Brief History of the Internet

the Intergalactic Computer Network

J.C.R. Licklader who coined the term “Intergalactic Computer Network” in the early 60’s and dreamed of a day when a researcher at one institution could use computer networks to access research at another institution, to spead up knowledge transfer and avoid the doubling up of research.

"...the print on paper form is embarrassing because in order to distribute it you've got to move the paper around and a lot of paper gets to be bulky and heavey and expensive to move about."

— J.C.R. Licklider 2

( quote at 21:10 )

centralized network

disributed network

packet switching

"Some thirty years ago, the RAND Corporation, America's foremost Cold War think-tank, faced a strange strategic problem. How could the US authorities successfully communicate after a nuclear war?."3 Paul Baran ( at RAND) developed two key ideas towards this goal which would end up being central to the Internet, the first was building a “distributed” network, a network with no center, where no one node is more important than the other. the second idea is what came to be known as “packet-switching”, whereby files would be divided into smaller pieces ( or packets ) and individually ( and thus more efficiently ) sent across the network and pieced back together on the receiving end. these were radical ideas at the time which stood in stark contrast to the methods and ideologies of the established communication monopoly ( AT&T )4

"The older telephone engineers had problems with the concept of packet switching. On one of my several trips to AT&T Headquarters at 195 Broadway in New York City I tried to explainpacket switching to a senior telephone company executive. In mid sentence he interrupted me, “Wait a minute, son. “Are you trying to tell me that you open the switch before the signal is transmitted all the way across the country?” I said, “Yes sir, that’s right.” The old analog engineer looked stunned. He looked at his colleagues in the room while his eyeballs rolled up sending a signal of his utter disbelief. He paused for a while, and then said, “Son, here’s how a telephone works….” And then he went on with a patronizing explanation of how a carbon button telephone worked. It was a conceptual impasse."

— Paul Baran 5

“[the] original model of a nationwide computer network grew out of [the] observation that time-sharing was starting to promote the formation of a sort of nationwide computer brotherhood. [...] Whether they were at MIT, Stanford, or UCLA, researchers were all looking for answers to the same general questions. [...] ‘It was really phenomenal to see this computer become a medium that stimulated the formation of a human community. [...] I had no formal proposals for the ARPANET [...] I just decided that we were going oto build a network that would connect these interactive communities into a larger community in such a way that a user of one community could connect to a distant community as though that user were on his own local system’6

life will be happier for the on-line individual because the people with whom one interacts most strongly will be selected more by commonality of interests and goals than by accidents of proximity

J.C.R. Licklider && Bob Taylor 7

In the 60’s ARPA (the Advanced Research Project Agency, now known as DARPA after haiving "redefined it's role" to focus more on "defence") funded the development of a computer network which would achieve the aforementioned research goals as well ensure communication in the aftermath of a nuclear attack. This became the ARPANET

ARPANET - 1969

ARPANET - 1970

ARPANET - 1982

Internet Protocol Suite

"Closely related to keeping the technical design open was keeping the social process around the design open as well. Anyone was welcome to join the party"

— Steve Croker 4

"Keep in mind that the original developers of the host level protocols were mostly graduate students. We adopted a humble and inclusive posture and a mantra that Dave Clark ultimately coined as ‘rough consensus and running code’ - which means we don’t really vote exactly, we just try to assess rough consensus among the group trying to agree on proposed standards."

— Vint Cerf 4

"J.C.R. Licklider had cautioned that different networks would be unable to communicate with one another unless common standardized protocols were introduced. [...] The telephone companies took the view that digital networks, like the analogue networks for telephone and telegraph before them, could only offer reliable service if every aspect of the network were controlled by the operating company. The imperative for ARPA had been to enable 'a very broad class of interactions' between a diverse array of incompatible computers and networks that served different purposes. Thus where TCP/IP enabled diversity, X.25 required consistency and conformity.[...] Ultimately, homogenous X.25, the expression of the centripetal bent of the telephone industry, was defeated by TCP/IP, the open, diverse and untidy offering of the research community."4

X.25 Protocol

TCP/IP Protocol

"Why do people want to be 'on the Internet?' One of the main reasons is simple freedom. The Internet is a rare example of a true, modern, functional anarchy. There is no 'Internet Inc.' There are no official censors, no bosses, no board of directors, no stockholders. In principle, any node can speak as a peer to any other node, as long as it obeys the rules of the TCP/IP protocols, which are strictly technical, not social or political. (There has been some struggle over commercial use of the Internet, but that situation is changing as businesses supply their own links)."3

"The Internet's 'anarchy' may seem strange or even unnatural, but it makes a certain deep and basic sense. It's rather like the 'anarchy' of the English language. Nobody rents English, and nobody owns English. As an English-speaking person, it's up to you to learn how to speak English properly and make whatever use you please of it (though the government provides certain subsidies to help you learn to read and write a bit). Otherwise, everybody just sort of pitches in, and somehow the thing evolves on its own, and somehow turns out workable. And interesting. Fascinating, even. Though a lot of people earn their living from using and exploiting and teaching English, 'English' as an institution is public property, a public good. Much the same goes for the Internet. Would English be improved if the 'The English Language, Inc.' had a board of directors and a chief executive officer, or a President and a Congress? There'd probably be a lot fewer new words in English, and a lot fewer new ideas. People on the Internet feel much the same way about their own institution. It's an institution that resists institutionalization. The Internet belongs to everyone and no one."3

who controls the internet

With the standardization of TCP/IP came the real possibility to connect the ARPANET with other international networks and create a “network of networks” each controlled by different organizations but all following the same rules and protocols to form the Internet. In the 80’s the military handed over the ARPANET to the National Science Foundation, who then built the first “Internet backbone”, a high-speed network that connected different parts of the Internet together.

the NSF backbone

the Internet circa 1993

former US vice-president Al Gore may have misspoken when he said he “took the initiative in creating the Internet” but what he was referring to was the work he and the Clinton Administration did to expand Internet usage beyond the academic niche. He wrote essays on the subject including “Infrastructure for a Global Village” and pushed granting initiatives that lead to the National Information Infrastructure and the first popular graphical web browser ( Mosaic ). In 1994 the commercial restrictions were lifted when the Clinton Administration privatized the backbone.

three of the Internet "backbones" or tier 1 networks

Today, no single institution controls the Internet. There are thousands of commercial companies, non-for profits, universities, governments, public interest groups and other entities who play different roles in controlling and maintaining the Internet. The many backbones ( or Tier 1 networks ) are maintained by different companies and interconnect to each other to exchange traffic ( at Internet exchange points ) on a voluntary ( surprisingly informal ) basis. There are a handful of international not-for-profit organizations like the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) and ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) which develop and maintain the Internet’s standards and conventions, many of which are open for anyone to join and participate in.

...so how's it all work?

The Internet has a seemingly infinite number of edges, but a shockingly small number of centers. [...] In basest terms, the Internet is made of pulses of light. Those pulses might seem miraculous, but they're not magic. They are produced by powerful lasers contained in steel boxes housed(predominantly) in unmarked buildings. The lasers exist. The boxes exist. The buildings exist. The Internet span exists—it has a physical reality.

Andrew Blum 8

lots of folks confuse the World Wibe Web with the Internet, but they are in fact two different things. confusing the two would be like confusing cars for roads. the Web is one of the many things we use the Internet for, in the same way that cars are one of the many vehicles that travel on roads.

[ 1 ] View Source

[ 2 ] IP Address

in your terminal, type: nslookup somewebsite.com
to find the IP address of the server a site is "hosted" on

[ 3 ] IP Lookup

sites like whatismyipaddress.com/ip-lookup && ip2location.com can tell u where that server is physically located

looks like pitchfork is hosted in an Amazon datacenter in Ashburn, VA... which seems like a strange city, but Ashburn is very important to the Internet

[ 4 ] the journey that file took to get here

in your terminal, type: traceroute somewebsite.com
to follow the path that file took to get from here to there

it takes less than a second ( only milliseconds ) to "hop" through dozens of computers

one of google's server rooms in their Iowa Data Center

Comcast's fiber network across the country

this undersea cable its on its way to Cuba from Venezuela

view interactive undersea cable map
view interactive network exchange points map

"This modest indentation on the Canadian coastline is a major Internet landmark, a sort of Ellis Island of the Web: It’s where a submarine cable owned by Hibernia Atlantic comes ashore."

Intro to HTMl

rather than simply writing plain text into our html page ( as we have been ), we use html elements in order to give our html page structure and organize our content
an element usually consists of a pair of tags, an opening tag has a < followed by characters that specify which tag it is, and then a >. the closing tag is the same except with / before the characters.
between the opening <tag> and the closing </tag> is where we place our content.

a list of all the html elements can be found here

inside the opening tag ( between the <tag and the > ) you can include attributes. attributes are used to add extra information about that particular element.
the first part of an attribute is the attribute name. it indicates what kind of extra information your going to add to that element. these names are specific, always lower case and followed by a =
the second part of an attribute is the attribute value, this is the info or setting for this attribute, different elements can have different values, but they should always follow the = and be surrounded in " "

a list of all the attributes ( and their corresponding elements ) can be found here

when we're ready to create a new html page there are a few basic tags and structure that we should always start with ( this can be considered a basic html template )

first, the <!DOCTYPE html> , this is a declaration that tells your browser that the code that follows conforms to the standards of a particular version of HTML, these used to be long and complicated... but its short and sweet now

after that we've got our first official element, <html> the opening tag indicates that everything inbetween it and the closing </html> is going to be html code

inside of the html element there are two major elements, the <head> ... </head> which contains information about the page, and the <body> ... </body> which contains everything that will show up inside the browser window.

the only thing we absolutely need inside of our head element is a <title> Page Title </title> . you won't see this inside your browser window ( because its not in the body ) but will show up in lots of other places for example on your browser tab, and also in google search results.

inside the body you include all of the elements that will create the structure of your content, for example you can create headers with <h1> ... </h1> and smaller headers with <h2> ... </h2> and you can create paragraph containers with <p> ... </p>

file paths


a path is the unique location of a particular file. a path points to a specific file by following its "directory tree" ( the folder within a folder within a folder etc. )
there are two kinds of paths, the first is an absolute path, which lists the exact location of a file, starting from the root directory on that specific computer ( phone, laptop, server, etc. ) and ending with that file.
the second way to write a path is known as a relative path, which lists the location of a particular file "relative" to ( starting from ) the file we are writing the path in.

Absolute Paths

here we have an image file...


on the left we have your laptop, here the absolute path of your file is as noted below it. but once you upload your file onto a server ( right image ) it now has a new absolute path.


Relative Paths

when your linking to pages or files in your own website its better to use relative paths becaue the absolute path will change when you upload your website ( folder ) from you computer onto your server.
if all the files on your site where in the same folder than all you need to create a relative path is the file name: rainbow.jpg
if your website has different sub folders, than your relative path needs to tell the browser how to get from the page your are currently on, and over to the file being referenced. example: images/rianbow.jpg

say for example we're on the index.html page above, to go from that "index.html" page to the "logo.jpg" file we would write a relative path like this: images/logo.jpg

say for example we're in the nick.html page, we now need to go up and out of the "profiles" folder before we can enter into the "images" folder. to do this we use ../ so a path from "nick.html" to "logo.jpg" would look like this: ../images/logo.jpg

relative paths in links && images

note that the <img> element doesn't have a closing tag. not all html elements come in pairs, some ( like the image element ) stand alone.

demystifying the “Cloud”

this is what a "cloud" really looks like

FTP ( file transfer protocol )

FTP, or File Transfer Protocal, is the protocal used to transfer files from one host (usually your computer) to another host (usually a server somewhere else).

applications called FTP Clients provide user-friendly interfaces for connecting to a server and transfering files with FTP, these are like windows into different folders on different servers which you have credentials for.

we'll be using Cyberduck, this is an app (FTP Client) which will funciton like a 'window' into a sever (which is a computer that hosts websites so other folks can access them on their browsers).

connecting to ur Server

to access your shared hosting you'll first need to launch "Cyberduck" ( or preferred FTP )

when Cyberduck is open click on the + symbol to create a new shortcut ( if you want to delete an old shortcut you can click - and if you want to edit an existing shortcut use the pencil icon )

when you click the + symbol to create a new shortcut a window like the one above should appear. in the drop down list choose the SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol) option, this is FTP with an added layer of security. Then under "nickname" write down anything you like ( so long as it helps you remember what the shortcut is for ). under "server" type yourdomain.com ( whatever you chose as your domain name ). then under username type in your first name all lower case.

when you're finished typing in all your settings, just exit out of that window. you should now see your newly created shortcut in your cyberduck bookmarks list.

when you double click your new shortcut you should see a folder called www ( or public_html or public or you might already be in it ), that's the folder where all of your projects are going to go, double click it and drag your files into it.

you should now be able to visit your domain in a browser and the contents of your www folder should appear :)


read “Web Work: A History of Internet Art” by Rachel Greene

watch the Don't Fear The Internet episode on CSS

register your domain name && web host ( with Namecheap or any other ) then upload your page from class and submit the URL below.


  1. Critical Exploits - Julian Oliver & Danja Vasiliev
  2. Computer Networks - The Heralds Of Resource Sharing (Arpanet, 1972)
  3. Sterling, Bruce. A Short History of the Internet. The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. 1993.
  4. Ryan, Johnny. A History of the Internet and the Digital Future. Reaktion Books. 2010.
  5. Baran, Paul. An Interview Conducted by David Hochfelder, IEEE History Center. 1999.
  6. Hiltzik, Michale A. Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age. Harper. 2000
  7. Licklider,J.C.R., Robert W. Taylor. The Computer as a Communication Device. Science and Technology. 1968.
  8. Blum, Andrew. Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet. Harper Collins. 2013.