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The Materiality of the Internet
July-September 2006 (vol. 28 no. 3)
pp. 96, c3
Paul E. Ceruzzi, Smithsonian Institution
The Internet is a technological construction with a magnitude and scope comparable to the hydroelectric dams, railroads, aircraft, and electric power systems of an earlier era. Yet, it has no obvious physical manifestation--no physical object we can point to that obviously and unambiguously represents it. This article suggests some of the reasons why that is and whether a physical essence is important in defining large-scale technological systems.

1. In T. Berners-Lee, Weaving the Web, Harper, 1999, pp. 207–208, Berners-Lee states that "Unitarian universalism had no influence on the Web. But I can see how it could have, because I did indeed design the Web around universalist (with a lowercase u) principles."
2. Twenty years later that same agency hired Bill Gates, again briefly, to develop control software for its network of PDP-10 computers.

Index Terms:
material culture, Internet, networking
Paul E. Ceruzzi, "The Materiality of the Internet," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 28, no. 3, pp. 96, c3, July-Sept. 2006, doi:10.1109/MAHC.2006.58
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