Evolution of the Internet: Rapid Advances in Technology

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What is the internet and where did it come from? What has the evolution of the internet been like? Are there new technological advances coming with the evolution of the world wide web?

The evolution of the internet started with the 1983 launch of the public internet. This new technological advance came from the Department of Defense.

Read more about the evolution of the world wide web and the evolution of the internet.

What Is the Internet?

When we talk about the Internet, we tend to treat it like a single entity. In fact, “Internet” most broadly refers to the network of networks that connect computers all over the world. The computers connect via “languages” called protocols. There are many kinds of protocols. For example, the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (http) allows computers to communicate about websites. There are so many different types of protocols that there are few things that can’t be digitized. Food, water, clothes, and homes are some of the only things that can’t go online.

The public Internet was created in 1983 by the US Department of Defense. The Department of Defense had a group of interconnected computers that they split in half. They kept half for their own use and named the network MILNET. The other half became the Internet. 

At the time of the book’s publication (2019), around three billion people—42% of the world’s population—used the Internet regularly.

Evolution of the Internet: The World Wide Web

The World Wide Web is the collection of web pages accessed via the Internet. It was invented in 1989 in Geneva by the Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire/European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).

Complete Separation of Online and Real Life

In the 90s, unlike today, your online persona was completely separate from your real self. This anonymity meant you were free to be as creative and open as you liked. You never had to worry about your reputation, or looking like a hypocrite, or if people would make fun of your tacky GeoCities site. People posted about whatever they liked, hoping to sway others to their opinion. Because the Internet was anonymous, you could easily change your mind and reinvent yourself anytime. 

The Internet also encouraged creating new, separate identities via role-playing games, especially MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games). To play these games, you had to create an avatar, or “alt.” You could be any of a group of stock medieval characters including a thief, wizard, or warrior. You could also have more than one “alt” and switch between them whenever you liked. 

Everything would change in the 2000s when the government and businesses started to link online personas to people’s real-life identities. 

Evolution of the Internet and Privacy

In particular, the NSA focuses on what’s known as SIGINT. SIGINT is short for signals intelligence. This type of intelligence comes from intercepted communications such as phone, fax, and computers. Cyber intelligence specifically refers to intelligence gathered from the Internet.

Evolution of the Internet: Rapid Advances in Technology

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  • What Ed Snowden discovered that caused him to completely lose faith in the government
  • How Snowden led the bombshell reports of US mass surveillance
  • How Snowden is coping with his treatment as both patriot and traitor

Rina Shah

An avid reader for as long as she can remember, Rina’s love for books began with The Boxcar Children. Her penchant for always having a book nearby has never faded, though her reading tastes have since evolved. Rina reads around 100 books every year, with a fairly even split between fiction and non-fiction. Her favorite genres are memoirs, public health, and locked room mysteries. As an attorney, Rina can’t help analyzing and deconstructing arguments in any book she reads.

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