Internet as a tool…

September 10, 2009

Leonard Kleinrock

Leonard Kleinrock

Did you know that the internet was 40 years old on September 2nd?  I had no idea until I read “Happy Birthday, Dear Internet, Happy Birthday To You” by Victoria Davis.

Back in 1991 while an undergraduate, I was fortunate enough to land a job working for a brilliant professor on a National Science Foundation research grant — testing an organic alternative to the pool chemical chlorine.  Not extremely groundbreaking research, but the perks of the job were that I had free internet (it was 56K dial-up which I thought was amazing; it just makes me laugh and laugh now that I thought 56K was so fast).  This access to the internet was the most significant tool in my battle for good grades because I had access to information searches and emailing.  It linked me to other universities and institutions of knowledge.  But most importantly it saved me vast amounts of time in the library.  In the past, when doing research, you went to the library, searched through the card catalogue, found what you thought you were looking for, pulled the microform and sat in front of the microfiche machine searching for your information.  The majority of the time it was such a cumbersome process that I ended up giving up and walking away.

How has the internet changed since then?  Jumping to present day –besides the obvious technological leap (I have a T3 connection at work and DSL wireless in my home) the internet is a mandatory tool in my life.  I use it for: online banking, shopping, keeping calendars, invitations, e-cards, social networking, weather reports, news, research, answering health questions, and on and on….  I’m even earning a graduate degree in Ed Tech through on-line courses exclusively.  What is most interesting is that the internet has now become a tool with its own set of tools.  What do I mean by this?  For example, all of the universities I have attended utilize Blackboard — whether the class is online or in a physical classroom — Blackboard enables students access to pertinent course information, discussion boards, collaboration, etc.  In order for me to be a student or an instructor I must have access to Blackboard.  How do I access Blackboard?  Through the internet!

Therefore, I am extremely grateful to those scientist in Kleinrock’s lab — who first transfered data through cable in 1969 at the University of California — for giving birth to the internet.  In a way they’re responsible for my continued access to education.

If you want to read more about the history of the internet, please go to http://www.cs.ucla.edu/~lk/personal_history.html

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