One of the most influential advances towards mass media in society is the Internet. A system that combines computers all over the world into a network of complicated and simple connections, the Internet has become widely integrated over the years and will remain a huge part of society’s progression. Today society takes the Internet for granted as a normal necessity for email, web browsing, music, and videos but the history of the Internet’s progression is fascinating. In the 1970’s, during the Cold War, the U.S Department of Defense was concerned about the vulnerability of its computer network to nuclear attack. The Pentagon did not want to lose all its computing and communication ability to an atomic bomb, so the defense computer experts created an interconnected web of computer networks, decentralizing the whole system. Information was bundled in a packet, called an Internet Protocol packet, which contained the desired destination of the targeted address. So, if one portion of the network were to be disabled, the rest of the network would still function, thus to be named ARPANET.
In the late 1980’s, the National Science Foundation created supercomputing centers at U.S. universities but since they were so expensive and only five could be built, which in turn meant these supercomputers had to be shared and interconnected. The National Science Foundation decided not to connect to ARPANET because there were too many problems involved, and rather decided to build its own system using the Internet Protocol and hooked together chains of regional networks that were eventually linked to a supercomputer, creating the Internet. In 1990, three developments launched the Internet’s popularity. The first was the development of the World Wide Web. Engineers working at a physics laboratory in Switzerland created an interconnected set of computers on the Net that all used the same communications program; hypertext linked one electronic document with another creating a virtual web of pages.
The second development happened in 1993, when the creation of user-friendly navigation tools called browsers were able to retrieve data, determine what they were, and configure data for display. The third development was the search engine, which scanned the Internet for terms selected by the user and displayed the results according to relevance. By the mid 2000’s, easy to use software programs made it simple to upload content to the Internet, encouraging social networking and input which made the Internet extremely popular. In 2009, close to 70 percent of U.S. adults were Internet users, and the average American was online more than 27 hours a month, viewing more than 1,600 Web pages. By the end of the 2000’s, Mobile integration with the Internet allowed more than 42 million people to use their cell phones to connect to the Internet. The development of wireless fidelity, or WiFi, created this phenomenon.
Wireless fidelity uses low-power radio signals to connect devices to one another and to the Internet. A base station serves as a transmitter, and computers and cell phone customers can use special hardware and software to connect into the network. Many WiFi locations have been built all over the country and an estimated 100,000 across the globe. Experts believe that the next step towards progression is the WiMax, a technology that will bring wireless access across approximately 10 miles rather than 200 feet like Wifi. More than a billion people worldwide use the Internet, which goes to show the amount of integration the Internet fuses with society. When people are online they use email, obtain news, buy products and services, pay bills, and send instant messages.
The Internet has become the normal American way of life, and will still grow to keep up with the increasing demand. The future of the Internet is often discussed, and before long, devices may be so actively involved with society that there will be a need to have continuous Web connection. Experts believe that in the next 10 years advances in technology will launch society into a new digital age. The successor to the Internet, the Evernent, will probably mark the convergence of broadband, wireless, and all other devices resulting in continuous connectivity to the Internet. The Evernet will basically be a merge of the virtual world with the physical world, information will be instantly accessible, products can run themselves, and services can be instantaneous.
The Internet and World Wide Web are still evolving today, and it is difficult to determine specific paths to which these areas can progress towards. But society will progress, and the Internet will grow simultaneously throughout the years. There will be many improvements and add-ons to what is already established today, but if there is no forward progression, society is obsolete. To conclude, I believe that in the years to come, society will change and today’s “normal” will be a thing of the past. I will not only be looking forward to society’s progression and the Internet’s integration with society, but also be cautious to what might be an end to all of society and even humanity itself.
Boyko, Ganna, “Internet History”, 2006, May 24, 2012, http://www.computerhistory.org/internet_history/ Dominick, Joseph R., The Dynamics of Mass Communication: Media in Transition, New York: McGraw-Hill 2011 Jean-Malbuisson, Galerie, “Brief History of the Internet”, 2012, May 24, 2012, http://www.internetsociety.org/internet/internet-51/history-internet/brief-history-internet