BA Fashion Communication student, Alice Morey investigates in the midst of the Covid 19 pandemic how the Internet transitioned from being a luxury item to a utility.
The Origins of the Internet
Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989. As a device to make the sharing of information easier. Today this revolutionary invention sees a total of the 4 out of the 7 billion people on earth online. At a time of international crisis and a moment where humans are being asked one of the most challenging things, to turn away from their well-formed groups and self-isolate, technology and the role of the Internet has become paramount.
But amongst all of this data and figures is the root of how the Internet has become so engrained in society and that is connectivity. A set of core founding principles can be found at the heart of Berners-Lee’s invention which provide an interesting foundation on which to build a network.
The Internet should have decentralisation, no-one individual would need to seek authority to publish anything online. A freedom to self-publish without filters and censorship. Non-discrimination with a focus on a bottom up design structure, irrespective of how you are connecting to the Internet the quality of the service should be the same and the customer experience should level out.
To facilitate a collective platform code was written to ensure maximum participation and inclusion of all users, creating universality above cultural and individual territories nuances the web has its own universal language which permeates through country boarders and creates a uniform approach which all people abide by. Over-arching all of these principles is that of consensus – in order for the web to work there needs to be a mutual agreement of transparency and standards to allow the functionality and capabilities of the Internet to grow.
What can we learn from the origins of the Internet?
Moving this from the digital sphere to the physical one, the Internet has seamlessly merged into the physical realm in a hybrid fusion model. Which allows the individuals connection with the world to not end when they enter their home. Google processes on average over 40,000 search queries every second, equating to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. Whether this be through mobile, tablet, laptop or through in-built home devices which automise the functionality of the home. The in-built language and ethos of the Internet allows for centralised information to spread out amongst an international community to would otherwise be unaware of information.
The Internet as a lifeline
This is a historically poignant time with the first infectious disease outbreak happening during a time of social connectivity. Not only are we more aware of the scale of the disaster, but we have increasing access to help and ways to keep people. Self-isolation and society has become synonymous with the ability to use Internet. To crack down on the spread of the coronavirus there has been global lockdown and a move towards encouragement of individuals to stay at home. In order for the spread of the disease to slow down and for life to continue the ability to access the Internet to work has become fundamental. It would be un-thinkable pre widespread Internet use to be able to easily move the working environment to the home sphere without the use of the Internet. Jobs which previously would have been regarded as workplace centric are easily portable. More than just a device to accommodate work, it has in fact become intrinsic to how people function.
In London as we approach the peak of the Covid 19 peak, studies at Condé Nast College are temporarily being taken online to allow for studies to be uninterrupted and the health of others assured.
The future of the Internet
The Internet and specifically social media has been called into question over recent few weeks with causing unnecessary panic, however this can be used as a tool for good. For those feeling anxious in isolation to know there are others out there who care. To get update advice from the safety of home and to organise resources to rally around the most vulnerable in society. Far from the luxury item which was once set up to aid the distribution of information it has become a life line and a way for modern society to carry on as normal.
By Alice Morey
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