¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 The origins of the Internet lie in the military networks that the United States developed during the Cold War. The Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) developed the first computer network to link their vast mainframes across the country. The network was intended to make the data stored on the computers resilient to military attack, so that if one computer were destroyed, the information would reroute to avoid the damage. Academic and business institutions subsequently began to see the value of interconnecting their computers so that users could share data. Over time, further networks were established, and eventually they became linked via ‘gateways’. The Internet (with a capital I) is the sum of all these networks – the network of networks.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 It seems ironic that what began as a military experiment should now be subject to intense media scrutiny as a medium for the dissemination of taboo material such as pornography. This is because the data resilience of the original network is still a feature of the current Internet, so that any message will reroute if it encounters an obstacle. This allows emails to arrive intact, even though the ‘packets’ will have travelled separately; it means that files can be stored outside national legal jurisdictions; that groups cannot be prevented from communicating, and illustrates that “technologies constitute a site on which various social forces converge… The user may bring to bear on a technology an intention which was not foreseen by the technology’s designer.” [Mackay 1995: 50] From military network to uncensorable public communication medium; the Internet represents bricolage on a global scale.