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Blog Post 1: Intro and Part 1 of “Where Wizards Stay Up Late”


I haven’t written a blog before, so this will be my first ever blog entry on the internet, which is what this blog will actually be about: the history and future of the internet in society. Ironically, I’m composing this entry in Microsoft word. I’ll copy and paste it into the blog when I’m finished. I am a bit traditional in that sense; I prefer a plain typeface and the more classical feeling of typing on a piece of paper, and writing in word comes much closer to those things than writing directly onto the internet itself. I also felt the need to file these entries in a folder on my hard drive (which I do with all of my other assignments), rather than store the record entirely on the internet.

This kind of weariness towards the internet (and social media) and preference for more traditional methods will be kind of a theme in this blog, and was one of my reasons for my choosing to take “What is the Internet and What Will It Become?”, the freshman seminar for which I am writing it. As I wrote in my application to the class, “The Internet makes me nervous.” For a whole lot of reasons that you would probably want to know as a reader of this post and any of my future blogs. Here are a few:


  • The internet takes up too large a role in our lives and we are too dependent on it.
  • Social media hinders genuine social interaction.
  • Time spent developing hobbies and a sense of discovery is now spent in front of screens.
  • The internet allows the government and other entities to collect huge amounts of information on people’s lives.
  • Privacy on the internet does not really exist.


Part of my reason for taking this class was to learn more about what the internet actually is in order to better understand my concerns. Another reason was to consider where the internet is going, and to question if society risks leaving anything behind as the internet continues to progress and to dominate daily life.


Our seminar began with a book called “Where Wizards Stay Up Late”, which was the story of how the internet-originally the ARPAnet after a pentagon agency called ARPA- came to be. The first half of the book (which I had the misfortune of having to read in a single, 3 hour block) was actually very interesting. The internet began as a series of landlines connected by the phone company, and the creative innovations of its founders were indeed remarkable. Most interesting, though, were the visions of the men who worked to make the internet a reality. Bob Taylor, for example, saw a world in which all computers were connected and spoke the same language. JCR Licklider uncannily imagined a kind of man-machine symbiosis wherein each would depend on the other, but in doing so would achieve new levels of productivity and success. Both visions were pretty spot on, almost to a frightening degree, especially in the case of Licklider’s symbiosis. Although he may not have foreseen the details of his predicted man-machine relationship, Licklider was very right about people and computers living almost as one. Today, people lean on their computers (and phones) as much for pleasure as for work and productivity, if not more. Indeed, aspects of our identities today are tied into our phones and social media accounts, and as the viewers and authors of countless online texts, part of our self worth has to do with how successful we are at being cool online. Scientific studies even show that hearing the ping from a text message or another social media account stimulates the same biological reactions of pleasure as genuine social interaction, and that the degree to which people like photos that they post or see online is dependent on how many digital likes that post receives. Scary stuff. The relationship is truly real, but whether it is symbiotic or parasitic is certainly in much greater question today.

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