It wasn’t that long ago that the only way to connect to the Internet was through American Online (even though for me it seems forever). That blaring combination of tones and noises as information was transferred over the phone line and you better hope that mom didn’t need to make an important call. (Mom trumps homework every time) Thankfully, somebody figured out a better way to do it, whether it was through DSL or broadband (what is what you get now though the cable company).
When I took my CISCO networking class in high school (again, ages ago), we learned of the internet’s origins through ARPANET, as most break though seem to originate back in the day, with military experimentation. It’s understandable why the DOD would want to network it’s computers: it solves the problems of how to disperse information quickly and get ahead of those nasty Soviets. And once that started, everyone else caught on trying to make their own network but it remained very restricted to the private sector and the common users of today.
The first attempts of public internet connection at home were nothing to what we’re become used to today; AOL hogged up the phone line and DSL worked as long as you were close enough to the central hub. Cable then realized that it could already transfer video from the East Coast to the West Coast, why not data? Now the cable companies rule the Internet and as much as we depend on it, they are banking a monopoly on it. (For more on that I recommend this episode of Adam Ruins Everything:) http://www.trutv.com/shows/adam-ruins-everything/blog/adams-sources/adam-ruins-the-internet.html
Today, everything is connected to the Internet: cars, watches, security, cash registers, and nothing seems to get done if the network is down. And do you think the all might federal government and military is immune to this? Hell no! Getting paperwork filed is like pulling teeth. And you now what really gets me going: all those sappy commercials, tv shows, and movies showing military members communicating with family members back home with no time delay and clear crystal picture. That never happens! Ever! And don’t get me started on Internet hours and ‘bad’ weather.
As we move forward into this meshing or convergence of how we do business, communicate, or even chronicle our lives, we are more dependent on information technology than we were before. You can find nearly everything on Amazon these days but it should be important to note that the consumer always has the final say. A few years ago when the XBOX One was being developed, Microsoft announced the only way you could share games would be if the registered owner of the XBOX purchased the same game and had an internet connection (or something similar, I don’t remember the full details and I’m not an XBOX player). It caused a huge uproar especially in the military community with is a huge consumer for XBOX because of limited Internet connectivity while deployed or underway at sea (you can’t just plug your game console into the wall; its never works, and its a huge security violation). After a month or so of complaints, Microsoft backed down. But it should interesting as again, everything becomes more wired and dependent on connectivity.