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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:
Janet Abbate recounts the key players and technologies that allowed the Internet to develop; but her main focus is always on the social and cultural factors that influenced the Internet's design and use.
Since the late 1960s the Internet has grown from a single experimental network serving a dozen sites in the United States to a network of networks linking millions of computers worldwide. In Inventing the Internet , Janet Abbate recounts the key players and technologies that allowed the Internet to develop; but her main focus is always on the social and cultural factors that influenced the Internets design and use. The story she unfolds is an often twisting tale of collaboration and conflict among a remarkable variety of players, including government and military agencies, computer scientists in academia and industry, graduate students, telecommunications companies, standards organizations, and network users.
The story starts with the early networking breakthroughs formulated in Cold War think tanks and realized in the Defense Department's creation of the ARPANET. It ends with the emergence of the Internet and its rapid and seemingly chaotic growth. Abbate looks at how academic and military influences and attitudes shaped both networks; how the usual lines between producer and user of a technology were crossed with interesting and unique results; and how later users invented their own very successful applications, such as electronic mail and the World Wide Web. She concludes that such applications continue the trend of decentralized, user-driven development that has characterized the Internet's entire history and that the key to the Internet's success has been a commitment to flexibility and diversity, both in technical design and in organizational culture.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal ReviewAbbate (history, Univ. of Maryland) provides what may be the finest extended work on Internet history and development to date. With an eye for the social constructs that shaped the Internet, she explores the Cold War genesis of ARPANET, created by the Defense Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency, and its technological successors. Abbate makes much of the military origins of the earliest computer networks and of issues surrounding packet-switching technology. She considers major playersÄnot just institutions but people like Paul Baran, Robert Kahn, Vinton Cerf, Lawrence Roberts, and Donald DaviesÄand pays special attention to the astonishing way in which ARPANET eventually metamorphosed into an egalitarian paradigm of commercial and civilian interaction by the 1990s. Though the constant use of parenthetical notation is distracting, and a much-needed glossary is sadly omitted, this book is useful for anyone studying information technology. Recommended for all public and academic libraries.ÄDayne Sherman, Southeastern Louisiana Univ., Hammond (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly ReviewThe prehistory of the InternetÄmeaning the period including Gopher and WAIS but before the World Wide WebÄis often recounted among wonks but unknown to most others. Abbate, a history lecturer at the University of Maryland, traces the conversion of the ARPANET, a project of the Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency created to allow scientists to run computers remotely, to the World Wide Web, an application created by a Swiss CERN physicist in the early 1990s for transmitting sound and pictures along with text, with a number of stages along the way. From the opening discussion of "packet switching," a major innovation in information exchange, Abbate makes it clear that "technical standards can be used as social and political instruments," and that hardware and software architecture is as much a product of social formations as the other way around. ARPANET was created at the height of the Cold War so that military communications could be maintained in the event of nuclear exchange, but the scientists who created it, in true Kuhnian fashion, used a loose set of ideas about end user-driven computing to overturn conventional wisdom. The book, firmly academic, has the feel of an extremely well-written doctoral dissertation and is thus unable to avoid being freighted with the acronyms and the inherent complexity of its subject. While most readers won't care about CCITT standards or how TCP/IP works, they will find themselves at least curious about the people who created them. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
CHOICE ReviewAbbate (history, Univ. of Maryland) traces the history of the Internet from networking breakthroughs in the early 1960s to the introduction of the World Wide Web in the 1990s. She covers packet switching, distributed networking, the ARPANET, the convergence of defense and research interests that results in the creation of the Internet, the complex events and interactions that transformed the Internet into a popular commercial medium in the 1990s, and finally the emergence of new applications such as the World Wide Web that brought a multimedia interface to the Internet. This is an interesting and readable tale of collaboration and conflict among a variety of players, including government and military agencies, computer scientists, telecommunications and network experts, and standards organizations. Recommended to professionals and anyone interested in the creation of the Internet. All levels. C. Tappert; United States Military Academy
Author notes provided by Syndetics
Janet Abbate is Associate Professor of Science, Technology, and Society at Virginia Tech and the author of Inventing the Internet (MIT Press, 1999).