John Naughton is consistently one of the – if not the – best writers we have about technology. His A Brief History Of The Future is a simply fantastic introduction to the internet: why and how it came about, from Vannevar Bush‘s vision of the Memex through Douglas Englebart‘s ‘Mother of all demos‘ to Arpanet and Tim Berners-Lee‘s use of HTTP and HTML to form the world wide web. It was the first book I thought to lend Breda when she joined my little team at Learning Pool.
His blog and Observer column are well worth regularly checking too. Occasionally I am lucky enough to meet up with John, along with that other titan of technology, Quentin Stafford-Fraser, for lunch in Cambridge. It’s difficult not to feel utterly fraudulent during these conversations, but I do my best.
John’s name has been punted all round Twitter during the last couple of days thanks to a feature article that appeared in the Observer on Sunday, called Everything you ever need to know about the internet. It’s a great context-setting piece, reminding us all how new this stuff is – and yet, at the same time, that many of the issues involved are as old as time.
This ties in with some of what I have been thinking and writing recently about people’s attitudes to the internet – such as the fact that it shouldn’t be viewed as just another channel, and that it is a profoundly creative space. I suspect a lot of this comes down to a lack of real understanding of what the net is about.
So, go read the article. Then print it out and put it in your boss’s in-tray. The world will be a better place.
One thought on “Everything you ever need to know about the internet”
Couldn’t agree more about the excellence of this little article. Seeing the headline I must confess I winced, but it turned out to genuinely be what it said on the tin – wonderfully condensed, absolutely true, and clearly written stuff.
Of a slightly more depressing note, though, a little further reading might lead one to eventually discover the likes of Jonathan Zittrain’s The Future Of The Internet And How To Stop It (http://futureoftheinternet.org/)or perhaps, with slightly more media coverage, the recent Atlantic article Closing the Digital Frontier. (http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/07/closing-the-digital-frontier/8131/1/)
What make you of such doomsaying?