In 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower created the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) in response to the launching of Sputnik. The main focus of the ARPA was to give the United States a technological edge over the rest of the world, and in order to do so, they had to be very focused on Computer Science. ARPA teamed up with Bolt, Beranek, and Newman to create a network of computers on four different operating systems (which was named ARPANET). Many people were attempting to create computer networks at the time, and some even had computer networks established, but ARPANET set the standard for Internet Protocol (still used today) and established the idea of how connecting computers would work as a unified system or network.
ARPANET was connected to Packet Radio Network (PRNET) after three years of rigorous engineering in 1976. A year later technicians added the Satellite Network (SATNET) to this network of computers creating the largest connection of networks in the world. When this connection was made, engineers started to call the collection of these three networks “inter-networking”. After USENET, BITNET, CSNET, and NSFNET joined these three, this large “inter-networking” was given a noun to describe itself… The Internet.
In 1990 Tim Berners-Lee created a way for people to navigate this large connection of networks with relative ease, he called it the World Wide Web (WWW). This was a way for people to connect to each network as a server and easily navigate people to each server. Basically, Tim Berners-Lee created a way for virtual connection to be simple and by 1994 the Internet as we know it became a reality.
However, no one in the early 1990s could predict what people have done on the Internet in only 20 years. None of them could have predicted the creation of a way to search this network of networks at lightning-fast speeds with mini “robots” only eight years after the WWW was created in 1998 (by a pretty famous company by the name of Google). None of them could have predicted that in 2004 a college kid would create a virtual “network” on this network of networks that would become the leading social website for people to share everything and anything. There is no way these people could have predicted that by 2013 Hong Kong would have an average internet speed of 54.1 megabits-per-second and that anyone could pirate a movie in less than five minutes. When Tim Berners-Lee made the WWW in 1990 and gave the people their first “ship” to sail the vast “ocean” we call the Internet, there was no way that he or any person involved could have predicted we would end up with the Internet we have today.
Today the average person can, in seconds, find nearly anything they want in the world with the simple thought to look for it. A simple keyword or term and you’re off on your way into this large network of networks without the blink of an eye. Be it from a computer, phone, or tablet there is always a way for you to find what you’re looking for and there is always a way to find almost anything anyone has ever thought about. In today’s world, this all seems natural and easy; it’s a “normal” thing that when I finish writing this article you can read it the instant I post it to this vast network of networks. It seems like each and everyday people of different shapes, sizes, and ages are creating something new that can make this task of connecting with others easier and easier. Be it exclusively for a business like LinkedIn, or maybe it encompasses any and all parts of your daily life like Facebook. Whatever it is, chances are someone has probably already created a way to do it. In its truest essence, the Internet has advanced beyond just a “network of networks” but instead is now a tangible, ever-growing feed of everyone in the world’s thoughts and ideas.
But is there really anything wrong with everyone in the world being able to connect with each other in mere seconds? I am sure people can make some great arguments against it, especially when it comes to people’s personal privacy, but, in general, the consensus would be that the internet has been, for the majority, beneficial to society. To this point, the Internet has been almost like the true “moderate” on a world scale since each country has potential access to it and can regulate it any way they wish to do so. Sure, there are the people like the Federal Network Council and Federal Research Internet Coordinating Committee that helped shape how these networks connect, but other than that the internet is a vast untamed beast.
Since the beginning of the Internet, different companies have sold the ability to access these networks, known to you as your Internet Service Provider (ISP). For most of us, our ISP has been almost completely separate from our internet use besides providing us with access. Many people just use their local utility company to get access or go to a national company like Comcast or Verizon. Google, the tech giant who revolutionized searching in 1998, made moves to provide internet to customers, the first being Kansas City in 2013. Google Fiber–as the name suggests–uses fiber-optics to provide faster internet to their customers.
For the majority of the Internet’s existence, one can look at an ISP as the “captain” on the “ship” (the WWW) in the vast “ocean” (the internet). People like Google have always been like the expert fishermen on the ship. That is, they know exactly how to catch the fish, where to catch the fish, and which fish are the best fish; and in this analogy, the fish are the mass amounts of data that resides on the internet. However, none of these fishermen have bothered the captain, that is, they have never attempted to steer the ship or make their own ship, for that matter. They had, until Google Fiber, stayed in the virtual realm they were founded in. Now Google is making their way to being the captain of this ship, which leads one to speculate, will the ship come next?
With the ability to now command the ship and provide Internet access to where they want and when they want, Google will have access to virtually everything happening on it and have an ability to control it, already having the ability to selectively show what’s on the internet. The next step would only logically be to create a new ship, built exactly how they want it. Now, this might actually seem like a good idea, centralizing the internet under one roof, however, the question is… Google? Should it be a corporation that tames the beast we call the Internet or should it be something else? Is it good that Google could potentially control the entire Internet?