Let’s take a moment to remember the origins of something that’s changed the way we do business, the way we consume arts and culture, and ultimately, the way we communicate.
In the 1960s, the US government (particularly the department of defence) was working to develop a communications network that could reliably be deployed across great distances and that would survive nuclear war. They were working on using telephone lines, partly because telephone lines were hard-wired and didn’t just rely on electromagnetic waves, which are prone to radioactive interference. They actually moved a crapload of funding from ballistic missile research to this packet switching idea that had been developed out of mathematical studies of queueing theory.
Cue the 1980s and there was a network being used by defence and by academics. But this is also the time personal computers began entering the market, and the people who used those computers were starting to get excited about this big, huge, super fast communications network. Having the ability for your personal computer to link up, over your phone line, to someone across the world, instantaneously, to transfer files and work collaboratively had huge implications for research, business, finance, and communications.
But there was a darker side to all of this. Something that nobody could see coming. Something that would someday undo, or attempt to undo, all that those pioneers had wrought.
I’m 99% positive that if the people who developed ARPANET back in the 60s knew just what all us weirdos were going to use their technology for, they’ve have thrown their hands up in the air and said “screw it”.