Inventing the Internet by Janet Abbate
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Since the late 1960s the Internet has grown from a single experimentalnetwork serving a dozen sites in the United States to a network of networks linkingmillions of computers worldwide. In Inventing the Internet, Janet Abbate recountsthe key players and technologies that allowed the Internet to develop; but her mainfocus is always on the social and cultural factors that influenced the Internetsdesign and use. The story she unfolds is an often twisting tale of collaboration andconflict among a remarkable variety of players, including government and militaryagencies, computer scientists in academia and industry, graduate students, telecommunications companies, standards organizations, and network users.The storystarts with the early networking breakthroughs formulated in Cold War think tanksand realized in the Defense Department's creation of the ARPANET. It ends with theemergence of the Internet and its rapid and seemingly chaotic growth. Abbate looksat how academic and military influences and attitudes shaped both networks; how theusual lines between producer and user of a technology were crossed with interestingand unique results; and how later users invented their own very successfulapplications, such as electronic mail and the World Wide Web. She concludes thatsuch applications continue the trend of decentralized, user-driven development thathas characterized the Internet's entire history and that the key to the Internet'ssuccess has been a commitment to flexibility and diversity, both in technical designand in organizational culture.
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