Standards, World Wide Web

Hello, World!

Something that really struck me in this discussion was how standards were set. OSI, a standard created by very smart people who held a lot of power, could not compete with TCP/IP even though there were many genius minds working to develop it and several countries adopted the standard. TCP/IP was the one that was implemented by the broad public, and used to this day. I think one important reason highlighted in Jim’s blog last week was the importance of simplicity; TCP/IP has less layers, and I think that this definitely made it simpler and not need as much theoretical calculation. The simplicity of the design of TCP/IP really needs to be appreciated, and the fact that there was a more hands-on approach with its development compared to a more theoretical/abstract approach for OSI also speaks to its success. I remember learning how in developing TCP/IP, you actually had to build it, whereas developing OSI involved a lot of discussion but not much actual implementation. The moral of the story is that you really have to try/experience something to learn and grow; merely thinking about it will not nearly be as useful. This lesson is actually very applicable to many aspects of life!

The World Wide Web was mentioned in the discussion as well, and I think the piece we read that talked about its challenges brought up some interesting issues. I find the spread of misinformation on the web to be extremely troubling, and this problem is linked with the lack of transparency in political advertising. Bots and algorithms nowadays track what people like to see (things that align with their beliefs), and bring up articles or other subject matters that reinforce those beliefs. Targeted advertising means that political platforms can say conflicting things to different groups, and with all the fake news out there, it is hard to search for the truth. Moreover, this phenomenon brings about other problematic things involving echo chambers and safe spaces, and the question of free speech comes into play. All of these topics are very pressing issues in society today that stem from the World Wide Web, and the plethora of problems could be a result of the openness of the web and the lack of centralized government. The openness of the Internet has been remarkable in shaping what the Internet has become today, and considering how it will shape the future is a very intriguing topic that I am excited to discuss.

1 Comment »

  1. Mike Smith

    September 21, 2017 @ 2:46 pm


    Hi Cindy. On trying and experiencing, it’s not only applicable to life in general, but is appearing more and more in education. Hands-on learning has long been an approach in disciplines like science and engineering, but it’s now done in novel ways in so many other areas. I hope you see it as you consider what classes to take during your time at Harvard.

    A number of your classmates have mentioned targeted advertising and fake news this week in their blogs. I hope you get a chance to read each other’s thoughts. While the Internet and its openness was meant to bring many more perspectives to your fingertips, people have figured out how to limit that which reaches you for their own gains. There is some work ongoing to counteract this trend, but it’s not easy. It might be fun for you and your classmates to consider this as a potential topic for the last class that you’ll organize.

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