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Brief History of the Future by John Naughton

By John Naughton

The net is the main awesome factor people have outfitted because the Pyramids. John Naughton's publication intersperses superb own tales with an authoritative account of the place the web truly got here from, who invented it and why, and the place it would be taking us. such a lot folks don't know of the way the net works or who created it. Even fewer have any notion of what it skill for society and the long run. In a cynical age, John Naughton has now not misplaced his skill for ask yourself. He examines the character of his personal enthusiasm for expertise and strains its roots in his lonely formative years and in his courting together with his father. a quick historical past of the longer term is an intensely own party of imaginative and prescient and altruism, ingenuity and resolution and peculiarly, of the facility of rules, passionately felt, to alter the area.

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It will undermine established industries and create new ones. It challenges traditional notions of sovereignty, makes a mockery of national frontiers and continental barriers and ignores cultural sensitivities. It accelerates the rate of technological change to the point where even those who are supposed to be riding the crest of the wave begin to complain of 'change fatigue'. In its conjunction of the words 'terrible' and 'beauty', Yeats's phrase has a strange ambiguity. His critics focus on the noun and read into it the glorification of blood-soaked Irish nationalism, the ideology which found its modern expression in the terrorism of the IRA.

Most get through first time but some get lost or - more likely - become snarled up in digital traffic, and are retransmitted when the destination computer realises they are missing. It all works automatically, with not much human intervention. And given its complexity, it works staggeringly well. It is remarkably resilient and apparently capable of infinite growth - to the point where some people have begun to argue that the Net behaves more like an organism than a machine. 3 The Internet is one of the most remarkable things human beings have ever made.

The fact that there is a super-abundance of information on the Net means (we are told) that the consumer doesn't know who to 32 Wonderment trust. A Web page written by a flat-earther may look as plausible as one from the Institute of Fiscal Policy. What looks like objective product reviews may really be concealed propaganda from Microsoft (or, for that matter, from Sun Microsystems, Microsoft's arch enemy). And so on. In such a glutted environment (so the story goes) it's best to stick with sources which have established reputations for editorial independence, journalistic competence and so on - that is, us.

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