- "Internet arrived to most users as simultaneously brand-new and already-historical"
Haigh, Russell, Dutton's 3 objections to standard account of Internet history (2015):
- Teleological: centers unresolvable dispute over "who invented the Internet?" and fuels perception that conflicting accounts of history are competing to win a zero-sum game
- Privileges “fittest” technologies that remain in use today, leaving out the political, economic, social, cultural and geographic conditions under which technologies are adopted or abandoned
- Mainly first-hand accounts from “fathers of the Internet,” nickname reflects normative conception of Internet as primarily a technological achievement
- "epistemological reflexivity of critical historiography may reveal unacknowledged power relationships embedded in our knowledge of the Internet’s past"
- Internet has always been multiple: "[Amsterdam's] vibrant squatter culture shaped the growing network by situating it within a pre-existing tradition of media appropriation, activism and organising"
"histories of the Net begin with the experiences of users"
- "definition of “user” is not self-evident"
- "tighter focus on uncertain or inconsistent temporalities, archives and software will be crucial to realising a more diverse point of view in the study of historical computer networks"
- "develop an “operational” notion of what the Internet is"
An argument for “net histories”
- "Internet is as much mythology as technology... held together by a set of narratives and beliefs about how information and communication power ought to be distributed through a society"
- "At its simplest, the Internet is defined as a “network of networks,” a recursive puzzle that resists beginnings and endings"
The term "net histories"
- Self-conscious about its ambiguity, and like “the Grid” or “the Matrix”
- "Superset... inclusive of an ever-evolving complex of information systems and communication networks"
- "vernacular term of art, calling forth a memory of computer networks as sites of exploration and play"
- "We should not simply jump from region to region, re-writing the same tales of a first modem, first email, first ISP, etc."
- "Popular histories of the Internet tend to focus on either the 1970s or the 1990s"
What do (new) sources hide?
Net.things: lost and found
- "dominant ideology of the Internet values novelty over memory... manifests in both active and passive forms... old versions of software are not only devalued, but seen as a liability thanks to intellectual property disputes and unpatched security flaws... online services often age poorly, descending slowly into a tangle of dead links, broken images and 404 errors"
"The corporations of the net industries have proven poor stewards of cultural heritage."
- What are the stories here?
"National libraries and other institutions tasked with a mission to maintain national web archives are caught between short-term demands and long-term priorities."
- "invisibility of collected material, for legal and technical reasons"
- "sense of emergency that motivates the collection of cultural materials"
- "“time-capsule” effect: when one institution or one group decides to create a [dump for future users to make sense of]" — connect to infra ethnography paper for how to approach this data
"some networks are ephemeral by design"
- Might be interesting to connect these precedents to Snapchat
- Net histories realls a time when enthusiasts believed the Internet to be "a communication technology that was always-already counter-cultural, somehow readymade with an “alternativeness” to broadcast media" — empathize w/ them
Keywords: mythology, multiplicity/plurality, nostalgia/memory
(Joel from STS.044: "Invent a new mythology to help us understand technology. The Bible is full of stories that help people exist in a world we don’t understand.")