Note — Nov 03, 2019

How We Misremember the Internet’s Origins

Seen in → No.101

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Ingrid Burrington explains how the recent anniversary of the Internet’s origins was celebrated and framed just like much of Silicon Valley’s history and ongoing work. Developed in a political vacuum, through “ad hoc actions and experiments undertaken with little sense of foresight or posterity.”

In practice, California’s trailblazing spirit came with environmental destruction, racism, and the rending of existing social fabrics. […]

In popular culture and industry circles, the story of the ARPANET, like most of the story of the internet, is told in a political vacuum, because that’s how most of the people involved in its creation treated the project. […]

By emphasizing the technical innovations (and obsessive dedication to them) as more important than the political and economic contexts in which they were germinated, the graybeards of internet history and PR machines of the tech industry perpetuate the illusion that technology magically exists outside of politics, rather than existing in a constant dialogue with it.