Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Histories of the Internet

This is an expansion of the a posting I made in the Moodle forum for Connectivism and Connective Knowledge.

In any discussion of the "history of networked learning" I think we need to look at learning networks in a broader, historical sense that is not really covered by the "march of progress" time-lines we usually see on the internet concerned with the history of the internet; maybe it is because I began my education as an English major with an interest in psychology and history. The technology that facilitates the current version of learning networks is only that: the current version. It is important to remember the milestones of the traditional history but they always leave out pornography, spam, games, advertising, conspiracy theorists, hackers, crackers, d&d, and the nigerian scams as forces that significantly shaped the networks as we know them today. I think we need a history of the internet that includes that.

All of that may sound like I am being funny but lets just take hackers for instance. You cannot go to hacker school. Your success as a hacker will depend on the networks you create with other hackers and what kind of information those networks provide.

I am still trying to wrap my head around the idea of a knowledge existing in a network as something empirical: it is suspect (as all "scientific" theories should be). I wonder how much of seeing the mind as a network may have more to do with our mammalian bilaterial symmetry and breaking the world into a three-dimensional order based on the limitations of our perception in the face of randomness and chaos of the world than any actual truth about the nature of mind. What does a learning network look like to a being with radial symmetry?

One of my favorite "histories of the internet" is Philippe Codognet's The Semiotics of the Web which includes hints of the proto-internets that lay archetypically in the human mind throughout history.

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