Bruce Sterling’s magazine article “A Short History of the Internet” speaks about the internet from its early days and culminates with his predictions and assumptions as to where the internet is headed. As a group we found the predictions to be accurate. For instance he states the internet will become a “multimedia global circus” with tools such as “high definition television” and “voice” capabilities. We see these predictions realized in the internet today with respect to the popularity of websites like YouTube, Netflix and Skype.
Aside from those assertions he speaks to the effect of commercializing the internet and how it was/is a “very hot topic.” Judging from the widespread popularity of websites like Amazon and internet shopping in general, these predictions have certainly come true.
While this article for the most part accurately reflects today’s Internet, some of Sterling’s topics showed the age of the article – namely the domains and his lack of prediction of social media. He breaks down the six types of domains (gov, mil, edu, com, org, and net) but those are not as prevalent today in that unless the creator of a site has a specific purpose for it and is well-versed in website creating, they are probably not going to put a lot of thought in the choice of domain. For example, in our Davidson Domains we have the option to pick our domain type, but most students use .com even though .edu might be more accurate.
Additionally, Bruce Sterling probably did not anticipate the prevalence of social media on the internet today. Although Sterling mentioned that messaging and news groups were an emerging phenomenon on the internet in its early stages, his predictions were modest compared to the incredible network of social media and social networking sites that dominate the internet today.
To conclude, we would like to pose a couple of closing questions. Looking back to Bruce Sterling’s “4 four purposes of the Internet”, how does this compare or contrast to the ways we use the Internet today? Are there significant innovations since 1993 that have created new purposes for the Internet or does Bruce’s concept still hold true today?