Friday, August 12, 2011

New Scientist: The Age of the Internet

Who can deny that the Internet has become the marvel of society? A web of social networks, communities, information storage as well as countless other uses that not many of us know. However we must consider that the Internet is now in grave peril. Corporations aiming to reshape the internet in their image, cybercriminals and hackers alike vowing to destabilize mayor networks as well as authoritarian governments that restrict any content that may prove to be rebellious or a threat in any way to their rule. These are true problems facing us today and we need real solutions. And to look for those solutions we must look back at the history of the Internet and see the effects that society and politics has had on it and vice versa.

It all started in the RAND corporation in Santa Monica, USA in 1958 when a US Air Force scientist Paul Baran managed to create a communications network that could withstand a nuclear attack. The idea was to pass informations from one point to another without a centralised router or switching station. Dividing the message into small packets scattered all over the network. From then on the Internet grew into a world wide web that became commercially available since 1991. And what has happened to the Web over these 20 years? Almost every company in the world operates in some way through the internet whether they sell products through it or if they simple have a website. The giants such as Amazon, Google and Apple who have achieved the greatest success because of the revolutions they have made to the Internet and to computers in general.
If Apple, Google and Amazon start to fragment the web, can anything be done to stop them?
Recently, however, many problems started to arise such as the Wikileaks launch of many classified documents which stimulated the formation of Anonymous (a group of hackers hell-bent on making all classified documents available to the general public no matter the content as well as caring for free speech in the web) Although this seems like a noble cause one cannot forget the consequences of such actions.