Wired: The Next Great (Digital) Extinction . “I’ve been thinking about the GOE [the Great Oxidation Event], the Cambrian Explosion, and the emergence of the mammals a lot lately, because I’m pretty sure we’re in the midst of a similarly disruptive and pivotal moment in history that I’m calling the Great Digitization Event, or GDE. And right now we’re in that period where the oxygen, or in this case the internet as used today, is rapidly and indifferently killing off many systems while allowing new types of organizations to emerge.”
The Next Web: My colleague Googled my dad and it got weird. “It’s hard to describe how weird it is to have your coworker send you a never-seen-before photo of your parent, and even weirder when said parent in said photo looks like a baby in a suit. Seriously, it’s uncanny. Anyway, this photo led my colleagues and I down a bit of a rabbit hole.”
Slate: The Very First Social Network. “The brainchild of the Advanced Research Projects Agency—ARPA, the progenitor of today’s DARPA—ARPANET was envisioned as a way for military-funded scientists to share an incredibly rare and costly commodity back then: computing time and power. At the time, only a handful of universities had computers. The only way to use one (or to transfer a file from one device to another) was to travel to the facility where the computer was housed. IBM even had planes whose job it was to fly computer files back and forth. ARPANET promised to solve this, making it possible for scientists not just to share computing time but to direct multiple computers toward a single problem or acquire a mountain of data with a single, fast-as-light query.” This article is from a book excerpt, and it looks like I have something to add to my reading list.
Gizmodo: How to Look Up Your Oldest Activity on Google, Facebook, Netflix, and more . “You might be familiar with Facebook regularly throwing heartwarming (or heartbreaking) memories in your face every once in a while, but if you want to take a serious dive into your digital past,. Here’s a guide to dredging into your your digital past on some of the most popular apps and services out there.”
Vanity Fair: “I Was Devastated”: Tim Berners-Lee, The Man Who Created The World Wide Web, Has Some Regrets. “Berners-Lee, who never directly profited off his invention, has also spent most of his life trying to guard it. While Silicon Valley started ride-share apps and social-media networks without profoundly considering the consequences, Berners-Lee has spent the past three decades thinking about little else. From the beginning, in fact, Berners-Lee understood how the epic power of the Web would radically transform governments, businesses, societies. He also envisioned that his invention could, in the wrong hands, become a destroyer of worlds, as Robert Oppenheimer once infamously observed of his own creation.”
The Boston Diaries: There was a time when search engines were a thing. And it seems they still are. “I was poking around in the deeper parts of my harddrive when I came across the source code for Geofind, a metasearch engine I wrote back in the late 90s. A ‘metasearch engine’ is a website that searches not the Internet, but instead passes the search query to other search engines. Back in the 90s, search engines weren’t quite as good as they are now (although some might contend that they aren’t as good as they were a decade ago), but there were a fair number of them, and the thought at the time was, ‘hey, if we query a bunch of search engines at the same time, maybe one of them will have useful results.’ In fact, quite a number of them. Unlike the … um … two? (Google and Bing). maybe, three? (if you count DuckDuckGo, which I only know about because of the circles I travel in on the Intarwebs) which exist today.” Wow, he doesn’t even look for Ask Jeeves, Northern Light, WWWWorm, Electric Monk, etc. but check out his list and get ready for the nostalgia.
New York Times Magazine: Want to Understand What Ails the Modern Internet? Look at eBay. “There was a time when eBay was practically synonymous with buying and selling things online. Now it’s surprisingly easy to forget that it exists, until you need to buy something you can’t find anywhere else or clear some space in the attic. Or until someone like Elon Musk, made fabulously wealthy when PayPal was acquired by eBay in 2002, muscles his way back into your consciousness by, for example, launching rockets into space or burrowing tunnels under major American cities. Where did he come from, exactly? As with a surprising number of tech heavyweights, the answer is complicated, but it runs through eBay.”