Abstract - The Information Society 14(3)

Looking Backward and Forward at the Internet

Jon Guice

This article reviews accounts of the origins and growth of the global Internet with an interest in their implications for the future. Many accounts take overly restricted views of technical development. For instance, the Internet is often seen as simply the outgrowth of US Defense Department work and popular enthusiasm. Recent interdisciplinary studies of technology present a more complex picture of how innovations are developed. They highlight technical alternatives, contributions of diverse groups, variety in meanings of technologies, and overall the surprising character of technology development. They suggest that the Internet has multiple origins and numerous particular reasons for its spread. Current discussions of the entry of Internet technologies into consumers' homes and the convergence among computing, media and telecommunications enterprises represent examples of more complex accounts of technology development. Such accounts will likely provide more powerful bases for policy, management and design.

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