In this module we will explore some of the history of the technical and social developments that gave rise to the Internet and World Wide Web that we use today. It is a fascinating story of serendipitous discoveries, collaborative tinkering, and contributions by multiple men, women, and teams of researchers and practitioners. And of course it is a development that continues to unfold as we move forward into an emergent and unpredictable future.
We’ll focus on identifying some of the most salient persons, concepts, primary source documents, and applications that have made possible the open, connected, distributed platform for learning that we work on today. We’ll see, for example, how design decisions in the emergence of the internet and web favored decentralization and interoperable standards, which leads to a very different kind of network than one organized in a hierarchical fashion.
EXPLORE (required reading/watching/listening etc.)
- Vannevar Bush, “As We May Think.” (essay, 1945)
- J.C.R. Licklider, “Man-Computer Symbiosis” (essay, 1960).
- Douglas Engelbart, “Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework” (essay, 1962; summary here)
- Douglas Engelbart, “The Mother of All Demos” (full video, ~ 100 min.; “highlights version,” ~ 25 min; 1968)
- Ted Nelson, “Computer Lib/Dream Machines” (essay, 1974)
- Alan Kay and Adele Goldberg, “Personal Dynamic Media” (essay, 1977)
- World Wide Web Foundation, “History of the Web“
- John Naughton (@jjn1), “25 Things You Might not Know About the Web on its 25th Birthday” (article, 2014)
BUILD (required assignments/projects to complete)
- History of the Web Timeline
- The class will collaboratively develop a Timeline JS project on key developments in the history of the Internet and in particular the World Wide Web. Each student will be expected to add at least three items to the timeline. Procedures for using Timeline JS will be covered during classtime on Monday January 14. For further information about using Timeline JS, see this AC Digital Pedagogy article, “Just in Time: Visualizing Knowledge with Digital Timelines” (2015). For a fine example of the type of timeline we hope to build, see this History of Cryptography timeline.
- Each item for the timeline should include a title, date(s), image or other media element, the credible source from which you obtained the information (with a link if possible), and a short description–two or three sentences or a short paragraph. Also include your initials in brackts at the end of the description, like this [MWP]. Use the web itself to research and discover the knowledge you need to create items for the timeline.
- Here is the Google spreadsheet that powers our timeline, and here are some instructions for using TimelineJS: general formatting instructions, embedded media options.
- Everyone should have added their contributions by 5 pm on Tuesday, January 12.
- in a blog post, identify your three contributions to the timeline. Then, select one of them, and explain in a bit more depth the significance of this item. Why is it important, and how does it fit into the larger history that we are collaboratively representing. Be creative as you unpack the significance of your item. This assignment should be posted by 10pm, Wednesday, January 13.
- Nugget Assignment #2
- Select a passage (a “nugget”) from one of the required reading assignments for this week that grabs you in some way, and make that passage as meaningful as possible. It could be a passage that puzzles you, or intrigues you, or resonates strongly with you. It could be a passage you agree with, or one you disagree with. The idea here is that the passage evokes some kind of response in you, one that makes you want to work with the passage to make it just as meaningful as possible. A good length for your nugget is about a paragraph or so. Too much, and it becomes unwieldy. Too little, and you don’t have enough to work with.
- Develop a blog post. You’ll probably start by copying the nugget into your post. From there, consider hyperlinks, illustrations, video clips, animated gifs, screenshots, whatever. Make the experience as rich and interesting as you can.Obviously, one of the main goals of this assignment is to get you to read these articles carefully and respond to them imaginatively. Your work with “nuggets” should be both fun and in earnest. It should demonstrate your own deep engagement and stimulate deep engagement for your reader as well. This blog post should be completed by Thursday, January 14, at 10 pm.
- continue to use Twitter, with course hashtag (#HowtheWebWorks) to tweet links to all of your blog posts, to circulate ideas and resources, and to connect with others and build your personal learning network (PLN).
- read, comment, and respond to the posts of your classmates.
FURTHER RELEVANT RESOURCES
- Christina in Concept Space (blog by Christina Engelbart on topics relating to the work of Bush/Engelbart)
- Howard Rheingold, Tools for Thought (book, 1984).
- John Naughton, A Brief History of the Future. The Origins of the Internet (Phoenix, 2000); From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg. Disruptive Innovation in the Age of the Internet (Quercus, 2014).
- Tim Berners-Lee, Weaving the Web. The Original Design and Ultimate Destiny of the World Wide Web by its Inventor (HarperCollins, 1999).
- George Dyson, Turing’s Cathedral. The Origins of the Digital Universe (book, 2012)
- Walter Isaacson, The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution (Simon and Schuster, 2014).
- other resources as curated by the class