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Imagining the Internet: Personalities, Predictions, Perspectives Paperback – July 14, 2005
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Janna Anderson offers a great perspective on the history and future of the Internet based on Elon University/Pew Internet & American Life Project's extensive prediction collection. Good books come from thorough research. Starting with the earliest communications systems, such as the telegraph, is a useful bonus. Being a part of and having the last word in this fine past-and-future Internet chronicle is a real honor.... (Gordon Bell, vice president of research and development, DEC; leader of the National Science Foundation's Information Superhighway Initiative)
Janna Anderson illuminates with great clarity the history, dreams, and challenges of the Internet, which allow the reader to see glimpses of the future. A wonderful and important contribution. (Tiffany Shlain, founder and chair, the Webby Awards)
There are many books on the Internet and cyberculture―part hype, part gloss, sometimes solid technology criticism. Anderson's book is valuable because it helps sort out differing viewpoints and puts them in a historical context, recreating many of the ups and downs of the 1990s, before things got really crazy. She has an amazing database of predictions, collected over time, and selects from it well. This book is never dense reading, but it is packed with interesting facts and milestones to jar my memory, to help me recreate what that time was like, because the subtle changes are what have worked us over so thoroughly. My favorite part in these excursions into the words of technology prophets and critics is picking out the threads that had an influence―that helped shape the larger visions of what this massive commons has become. (Christine Boese, cyberculture columnist, CNN.com; writer, CNN Headline News)
Anderson provides a variety of perspectives on contested issues such as privacy on the Internet, personal identity online, and 'information overload.' Anderson's knowledge is encyclopedic, and her accessible, jargon-free style will engage professors and researchers without alienating undergraduates. Highly recommended. (CHOICE)
[Imagining the Internet] looks at the future through an analysis of the past. It is somewhat difficult after becoming immersed in these insights to remember that Internet communication began with the utmost diffidence. Indeed the first events involved a computer crash and unmemorable twaddle. . . . We hope that this material will be useful to scholars who wish to assess the distance we have come; journalists who are trying to figure out where we are now; government, industry, and nonprofit officials who want to build the Internet of the future; and people of all walks of life who must learn to recognize the coming complexities of their networked world. (Lee Rainie, director, the Pew Internet & American Life Project, from the Foreword)
Janna Anderson offers a great perspective on the history and future of the Internet based on Elon University/Pew Internet & American Life Project's extensive prediction collection. Good books come from thorough research. Starting with the earliest communications systems, such as the telegraph, is a useful bonus. Being a part of and having the last word in this fine past-and-future Internet chronicle is a real honor. (Gordon Bell, vice president of research and development, DEC; leader of the National Science Foundation's Information Superhighway Initiative)
About the Author
Janna Quitney Anderson is the director of Internet projects and assistant professor of communications in the School of Communications at Elon University, North Carolina.
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The book covers the beginning of communications history and gives the reader an in-depth view of how the Internet came to be. It shows how the road was paved for the World Wide Web as well as how each technological improvement has allowed the human race to expand and deepen the ways in which we communicate with one another.
The importance and history of each significant communications technology is explained, starting as early as Gutenberg's printing press to radio, telephones, and television.
But it is the future possibilities of communication that encompass the body of "Imagining the Internet." Throughout the book, Anderson moves through the Internet's humble past to it's present form and into its' indefinable future, all while supporting her facts with a plethora of quotes and predictions from internet-savvy entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Tim Berners-Lee. Her predictions make up the heart of the book and allow the reader to see varying points of view about what might become of this ever evolving form of world wide interconnectivity.
Anderson also goes into detail about privacy issues on the Internet, what some social, political, and economic expectations might be, as well as some concerns of what we might be faced with in the future. One example that was given was that if robots will one day take over. Anderson said, "There is no doubt that artificial intelligence will be taking on more and more duties as developments allow it to become an integral part of the networked world."
Predictions about what will become of mankind as a result of new technologies have always been a topic of interest. Anderson explores past predictions that were made as recently as 10 years ago. What were the possibilities foreseen only a decade ago and did those guesses become reality? The quotes and abstractions give insight into the possibilities that lie before us still.
"Imaging the Internet" is a book for people interested in a variety of subject matter. It is a great resource for people looking to do research in the history of modern communication, while it is also an interesting tale that the average world citizen should explore as they ponder the possibilities of the future of mankind. Take Anderson's advice and remember that, "As we go forward, we must think several jumps ahead. Decisions being made today are making your future. Inform yourself and become involved..."
The book's focus is the Internet, but Anderson discusses all types of communications networks that bring relevance to the topic. The Internet is still in its infancy. Comparing it to older communications technologies gives context to its growth. The book gives a great frame of reference for the adoption and integration of revolutionary communications technology like the telegraph or telephone. It's easy to see connections between predictions about Morse Code and early predictions about the Internet. We see the potential the Internet had during its early years, and also see that there's almost unlimited room for change - it can adapt as our needs and abilities grow.
As Anderson leads us through the development of the Internet - from the early ARPANET to the web we know today - she provides numerous predictive quotes from Internet luminaries and stakeholders from the early 90s. She shows us that the experts had the foresight to see both the enormous good that the Internet had the potential to bring as well as the chance for ethical quandaries. The experts saw opportunity for great social interaction and a development of an information economy even before the Internet penetrated mainstream culture. At the same time, the predictions Anderson selected, also show the controversy the Internet can stir-up, including issues of piracy, privacy and security.
Now, not all of the predictions made in the early years of the Internet have come true, but those are included too. The point, it seems, is to chronicle the hype about the Internet as it was being developed, perhaps in the hope of finding trends that might produce some insight into where the Internet could develop from where it is now. Computers haven't replaced TVs yet, as many experts predicted more than a decade ago, but there are signs that it could in the not-too-distant-future. Other similar predictions might still give readers clues as to what's to come in the future of the web.