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Understanding the past, present and future of the Internet

Published: Tuesday, June 3 2014 12:15 p.m. MDT

Apple senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi speaks about the Apple HomeKit app at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Monday, June 2, 2014. Trying to understand where the Internet's been, where it is and where it's going? News organizations are here to help.

Jeff Chiu, Associated Press

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Ah, the Internet. A vast and wide-open area that many liken to the Wild West.

How do we even begin to understand such a thing?

Well, Vox is there to help you out. In an article published this week, Vox offered a list of maps that aimed to explain the history of the Internet, starting from its origins in the West to its expansion eastward.

Even before the Internet was a thing, the ARPANET — Advanced Research Projects Agency — was an Internet-like network started at the University of Utah and had connections to California, Vox reported.

“It also had a more practical goal: allowing more efficient use of expensive computing resources,” wrote Timothy B. Lee for Vox. “Computer scientists sometimes used ARPA money to buy computers, and the agency hoped that ARPANET would allow universities to share these expensive resources more efficiently.”

Lee then takes readers through the history of the Internet’s growth, showing how the World Wide Web expanded heavily throughout the United States and reached far corners and spots around the globe.

And many of the maps from Vox show the common state of the Internet, including where people wake up based on Twitter, the languages of the world and how many people are talking about different topics.

People are logging on to the Internet through a variety of sources — so much so that teens recently reacted in a number of ways to the Internet from the 1990s.

To help people understand today’s Internet and media landscape, The Atlantic published a set of maps and information that shows where in the world people are using tablets, smartphones, desktops and TV to get access to information.

“What do the maps tell us? A super-oversimplified observation is that the U.S. and Western Europe watch a lot of TV, while Asia and other developing economies are disproportionately heavy in mobile and tablet use,” wrote Derek Thompson for The Atlantic.

But this may be because of old habits, Thompson explained. “[R]ich, old capitalist democracies still watch a lot of TV, because it's what they're used to,” Thompson wrote.

As for the future, the Internet has already begun seeping into American homes, according to The New York Times. But where’s it off to next?


Google, a search engine company that has in recent years expanded to email, social networking and smartphones, is investing in satellites that can spread the Internet across the world, The Wall Street Journal reported. This is very similar to what Facebook is looking to do with drones, wrote Alistair Barr and Andy Pasztor of the Wall Street Journal.

"Google and Facebook are trying to figure out ways of reaching populations that thus far have been unreachable," Susan Irwin, president of Irwin Communications, a satellite-communications research firm, told the Wall Street Journal. "Wired connectivity only goes so far and wireless cellular networks reach small areas. Satellites can gain much broader access."

Email: hscribner@deseretdigital.com, Twitter: @herbscribner

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