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Alternative History of the Internet

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Today's youth are terribly smug about being the first generation to grow up with the internet. The reaction of a 14-year-old to the realisation that, when you were young, you had to phone your friends, rather than using Facebook chat and that you couldn't copy all your history homework from Wikipedia is, typically "OMG!!!".

Therefore, it logically follows that what is needed is an alternative history of the internet which sets out its origins as an entirely paper-based service (someone can write a fake version of IP v1.0 to support this) reliant on the postal system, vacuum tubes and carrier pigeons for the transport layer. Then, the all-electric internet came out of Bell Labs as a "swords to ploughshares" reuse of World War II technology. Facebook and Yahoo! instant messenger were introduced in the late 1940's as radio-based services - by tuning your radio to the right station you could hear your friends' status updates. Youtube was introduced at much the same time, as the mainstream way of delivering television content - only later did the technology evolve to broadcasting it simultaneously into every home.
hippo, Sep 30 2009

Semaphore line http://en.wikipedia...wiki/Semaphore_line
An early ISP's backbone [pocmloc, Sep 30 2009]

Sumerian 'Me' or 'Instructions about how to do stuff'. http://en.wikipedia...wiki/Me_(mythology)
It was not the Ancient Greeks, Mr Tindale, but the Sumerians who invented programming! [knowledge gained courtesy of Neal Stephenson's 'Snow Crash']. [DrBob, Oct 01 2009]


       I love this idea but i can't think of anything to say. I just wanted you to know that.
nineteenthly, Sep 30 2009

       wot [19thly] said
FlyingToaster, Sep 30 2009

       Of course, the very name 'YouTube' actually comes from the internet's original implementation by pre-First World War ham radio enthusiasts.

In the balloon-pricking stakes, it might also be worthwhile to point out the irony of the modern internet now becoming 'wireless'.
DrBob, Sep 30 2009

       We could always tell them about the days of ftp.wustl.edu, bulletin board services and alt.barney.die.die.die.
RayfordSteele, Sep 30 2009

       Of course the binary code was an adaptation of Marconi's telegraph in collaboration with Morse...   

       ...which was itself derived from numerically-expressed measurements of the angles of semaphore flags. The Antikythera Device had a heliograph-based interface message processor.
nineteenthly, Sep 30 2009

       Ah smoke signals... I remember those days. Low bandwidth they had.
RayfordSteele, Sep 30 2009

       <nineteen forty eight>Luxury! We used to use polyzoan colonies.</nineteen forty eight>
nineteenthly, Sep 30 2009

       but we didn't need the higher bandwidth since the world was all black&white until the early 60's.
FlyingToaster, Sep 30 2009

       It just goes to show.
Even the Apple logo itself was scooped up the instant that the statute of limitations on Newton's copyright expired.

       Ohmygod Imsototallytweetingthis myfriendsallneedtoknow howtheinternetstarted!
kaz, Sep 30 2009

       (Well I never, there's a thirty character limit on words!)
kaz, Sep 30 2009

       I remember their first. Founded by a tribe of tall women in a hut on the river bank.
RayfordSteele, Sep 30 2009

       breaker breaker that's an eighty eight - go to channel 41 - copy?
zen_tom, Oct 01 2009

       Lol - over.
egbert, Oct 01 2009

       Very interesting [Ian]. Isn't MS Comic Sans based on late demotic scripts? Or was it the other way round? I can never remember.
pocmloc, Oct 01 2009

       The standard server rack system dimensions were derived from the best packaging space in railroad cars, which as we all know were fitted to the width of Roman chariot wheel ruts.
RayfordSteele, Oct 02 2009

       [RS], cable size was also based on the width of a horse's arse. This fact used to be well known but was supressed by prudish Victorian society, hence the term banned-width.
egbert, Oct 02 2009

       I still remember having to follow "post-office protocol version 1" at the local post office in order to have them accept my hand-labelled TCP/IP packages.
vincevincevince, Oct 02 2009

       Yeah; so, there was this port called the serial port. If you were lucky, you had three of them. You put the keyboard into one, the mouse into the other, and the modem in the third. Of course, most machines only had two serial ports so in order to dial up you had to activate 'mouse keys' and disconnect the mouse, replacing it with the modem and navigate using the cursor keys. Ahh, shoot, forgot this was meant to be fictional :p
vincevincevince, Oct 02 2009

       And the Web originated in 13th century Florence, when posters and handbills would be tacked up on the walls about the city. The lively political, philosophical and theological debates of the age meant that many bills referred to, or refuted, other bills, which were "linked" for reference. To fully comprehend the discussion, one could choose to follow these "links" to the original document.   

       Links were printed as dotted quads, thus:, and following a link involved walking the given number of paces, taking a bearing with an astrolabe and/or theodolite, counting off a measure of rosaries, and measuring the number of handspans up from the ground.   

       This created such a commotion, that, after an outbreak of fisticuffs and swordplay, the Medicis divided the city into "domaynes". Links could be addressed by easily remembered names, and Domayne Name Scribes were stationed about the city, who consulted tables of names and locations to guide the weary searcher in their travels.   

       Then, in 1463, when the northern states were conquered by the Ottoman emperor Gogol ...
BunsenHoneydew, Oct 10 2009

       ...and who now remembers Instagram in the 1950's when it was a system for you to share your Polaroid snaps with your friends by post? Every image had the "make it look like an out-of-focus lo-res polaroid" filter applied to it by default.
hippo, Nov 28 2013

       Facebook was literally a book filled with faces, you could find one of your friends and leave them a little note if you so wished, then check your own page to see if anyone had left anything for you. Obviously it largely fell into disuse once telephone and radio meant you could get through to friends in real time, but it's nice the kids are getting back into the same idea.
bs0u0155, Nov 29 2013

       //Alternative history of the L'internet//   

       You mean apart from it being invented by the French?
Ling, Nov 29 2013

       Does the Internet refer to the sharing of information using technology, or did internetworks in fact start with internet protocols over computers. Isn't the Internet of computers a reification of social interaction. The Internet in terms of the monthly utility bill for social interaction is the hyper industrialization of a commodified social form: information. The internet is commodified social exchange, and industrialized forms of conveyance including door to door encyclopaedia salesmen and AOL and Internet start up disks in the postal mail. Baudrillardian semiology would suggest that the significance of the changing referent is based on the evaluative system of capitalism and the highest evaluated industrial commodity form; electronics utility. However despite the changing referents from abstracted social interaction to its reification in hypercommodity form, the Internet is ultimately not a supernetwork of interconnected computerized devices, but social interaction or the analysis of the object of sociology. The internet proves symbolic interaction in sociology, as the material reification of social relation.
rcarty, Dec 02 2013

       Ya know, A funny thing happened on my way to the forum yesterday. It seems there was this guy who had...
popbottle, Dec 03 2013


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