I've always thought of the internet as something I could never grasp. To be completely honest, I still don't understand how television, or even radio, works. How is it possible to transfer these bits and pieces of color, information, and sound across cities, countries, continents? Absolutely baffling. But here I am, a person who has always preferred the feel of a pen in hand and the smell of paper to the hard plastic surface of a computer keyboard. This video, however, has clarified a lot about where and how the internet was developed and now I see- it's not so bad.
The first thing I thought of when I saw those gigantic computer rooms in this documentary was Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Remember Mike TeeVee, the first kid to travel through television? He stood in front of this giant ray gun and was transported above everyone's heads in tiny little pixels of color and beep beeps, then was put back together again inside the little TV unit. Crazy, right? And then there was the big computer unit that "experts" used to reveal the locations of the last of the Golden Tickets. "I won't tell, that would be cheating," it replied. I always thought this was ridiculous, because I didn't think a machine could be so intelligent.
What initially surprised me about the video was the reason the internet was created. I had no idea the Space Race had anything to do with it, nor did I realize it was created for the US Department of Defense.I thought it was made to play games on Nickelodeon's website and to provide information about my favorite bands. I also did not realize that it is an American creation! I assumed another country had created it and we just took all the credit. How pessimistic.
The fact that grad students were the ones to make all the advances does not surprise me. My cousin is a computer hacker (for which he is now attending college and stands to make a ton of money, I'm sure) and has been doing advanced computer stuff in his sleep since he learned to read. I just learned what a blog was this year, and out of sheer excitement created 4 in my zealous pursuit of this "new" technology. If you look at all the advances in computers in the past twenty years (Napster, Facebook, etc.) you'll see that they are all these young guys (wizards?) who may or may not have even attended college.
This video was certainly eye opening, and I can that there's a whole new respect for how far it's come since the idea was tossed around just 60 short years ago.