A sign written "Internet @" in a corner with a building behind.

The origins of the Internet

In the early sixties, the networking concept was taking its first steps. Later in this decade, ARPANET would provide “the technical foundation for the internet” (“Infographic,” 2018). Initially, the purpose of such development was to facilitate data transfer between universities, and in 1969 the first digital data was sent from one computer at University of California, Los Angeles to another at the Stanford Research Institute – around 300 miles away (“The birth of the internet – ProQuest,” n.d.).

At the time the investments in scientific research started raising during the Cold War, the US Department of Defense began an experimental project developed by Pentagon’s Advanced Research Project Agency with the purpose of facilitating communication and data exchange among distinct educational and governmental research labs. ARPANET then designed the idea of “packet switching”, or according to w3 website, they deciphered how to “send around little packets of information”, (“Frequently asked questions by the Press – Tim BL,” n.d.) and by late 1970, 13 computeres centre were connected (“The birth of the internet – ProQuest,” n.d.).

In 1983 the ARPANET adopted the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the Internet Protocol (IP) giving birth to the Internet. TCP and IP protocols were created by Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn and they allowed “different types of computers all over the world to recognize each other, and route and assemble data packets, forming a network of networks” (“The birth of the internet – ProQuest,” n.d.). 

Are the Internet and the Web the same thing?

It is common to see the terms Internet and Web being used erroneously as they were interchangeable, however they are essentially different. The w3 website wisely states that “the Web could not be without the Net”, this because the Internet is the infrastructure composed by computers and cables which enables the existence of the Web. The programs communicating between computers on the Internet through TCP and IP protocols allows the Web to be an “abstract (imaginary) space of information… where you find documents, sounds, videos, information.”(“Frequently asked questions by the Press – Tim BL,” n.d.).

The birth of the Web

The Web was created by Tim Berneers Lee at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory, in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1989. There were extensive groups of people from several companies, using different computer systems working in CERN (djs61257, 2010c), therefore Berneers-Lee wrote a proposal concerning to the management of information at CERN, addressing the problem of “loss of information” and suggesting a solution through the implementation of a hypertext system solution (“The original proposal of the WWW, HTMLized,” n.d.).

Berners-Lee specified Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML), a protocol and a language for formatting hypertext (text with hyperlinks). He also created the system for retrieving web pages: the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) or address bar (“The birth of the internet – ProQuest,” n.d.). The HTML language contains a series of elements that labels pieces of content, such as header, paragraph and links, to describe hierarchically the structure of a webpage (“Introduction to HTML,” n.d.).

What Tim Berners-Lee created to be the internal communication method of CERN, spreaded around the whole world in the last 30 years. In 2010 approximately 25% of the world had access to the Web (djs61257, 2010a) and according to the Forbes website, this number increased nearly twofold in 2018 (Marr, n.d.). The Web was based in print culture but in fact it is not print. It is instead a dynamic and interconnected virtual space which makes us all contributors, it “allows anyone to publish and to distribute words, images, videos and software globally, instantly and virtually for free” (djs61257, 2010a). 

Why does it matter from the Digital Humanities perspective?

The Web transformed everything. It also transformed academia and how knowledge is disseminated. Wikipedia is an example of decentralization of knowledge generated by the Web, following its most basic premises: anyone in the world with a computer can contribute with it.

In this context, Journals, research websites, wikis, blogs and communities were created by students and scholars. The Domain of One’s Own project reminds us of the importance of the “control over our scholarship, data, and digital identity”(“A Brief History of Domain of One’s Own, Part 1,” 2016). The Wired writer of A Domain of One’s Own predicted in 2007 that “infrastructure was moving to the cloud where students could, and would, take care of their own services” (“A Domain of One’s Own,” 2012), and two years later in 2009 Gardner Campbell “argued that learning to build and operate a personal cloud was a life skill students would need and should be taught” (“A Domain of One’s Own,” 2012). To have a domain is very important as through it information and knowledge can be shared and this is the fundamental purpose of the Web. 



A Brief History of Domain of One’s Own, Part 1, 2016. . UMW Div. Teach. Learn. Technol. URL http://umwdtlt.com/a-brief-history-of-domain-of-ones-own-part-1/ (accessed 11.13.20).

A Domain of One’s Own, 2012. . Wired.

Frequently asked questions by the Press – Tim BL [WWW Document], n.d. URL https://www.w3.org/People/Berners-Lee/FAQ.html#InternetWeb (accessed 11.12.20).

Infographic: The Evolution of the Internet, 2018. . Seamgen Blog. URL https://www.seamgen.com/blog/infographic-evolution-internet/ (accessed 11.13.20).

Introduction to HTML [WWW Document], n.d. URL https://www.w3schools.com/html/html_intro.asp (accessed 11.13.20).

Marr, B., n.d. How Much Data Do We Create Every Day? The Mind-Blowing Stats Everyone Should Read [WWW Document]. Forbes. URL https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2018/05/21/how-much-data-do-we-create-every-day-the-mind-blowing-stats-everyone-should-read/ (accessed 11.13.20).

The birth of the internet – ProQuest [WWW Document], n.d. URL https://search-proquest-com.ucc.idm.oclc.org/docview/2322339068?pq-origsite=summon (accessed 11.12.20).

The original proposal of the WWW, HTMLized [WWW Document], n.d. URL https://www.w3.org/History/1989/proposal.html (accessed 11.12.20).

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