- Social Media
- Active Citizenship
- Good Giving
- Corporate Responsibility
- Be Fearless
Guest blogger Abbas Jaffer is a fellow at the Buxton Initiative, a Case Foundation partner organization.
In this Learn the Lingo installment, we'll take a look at the very early beginnings of what is now the (social) web. As with any endeavour, a better understanding of history is important. The same goes in efforts for social good: a grasp of the needs fulfilled and the goals reached of the internet pioneers can be really instructive when you are thinking of how best to leverage the web for your organizational or individual activities.
At the beginning of the web there was the ARPANET, which stands for Advanced Research Projects Agency Network. In the late ‘60s US Department of Defense was trying to go from one-to-one messaging between dedicated computer terminals to creating digital networks. The technology firm of Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN) won the bidding to make this idea a reality. BBN programmers found a solution using a method called "packet-switching." Data sent by a computer was broken down into blocks, and packets with information for different computers would remain independent and sent out onto the network together with the unique address of each intended recipient. In October 1969 this method was successfully used for the first time between computers at UCLA and Stanford. Soon after, ARPANET was being used to login and print remotely and transfer files, creating a “digital network.”
More and more universities and government agencies installed computers to join this network, and parallel networks like CYCLADES in France came about. At the beginning of ARPANET, the Network Control Program (NCP) was used to disassemble and reassemble packets, but only within one digital network. By 1983 ARPANET switched over to the Internet Protocol Suite (known as TCP/IP), an internetworking, or internet standard. Thus the seeds were laid for the internet we know and love today.
It’s kind of overwhelming to think about all the technological innovation that made the internet a reality. Just as amazing are the ways the internet can be used to further the public good. Advocacy campaigns, fundraising for supplies and infrastructure in Less Developed Countries and here in the US, and connecting civic-minded people across the globe are all aims that are furthered by the existence of the internet. So every time our internet goes down, we could all just take a moment, breathe, and be thankful for all the people and ideas that made it possible.