The paperback version of Johnny Ryan’s “A History of the Internet and the Digital Future” was launched in Hodges & Figgis this evening. Lots of very clever people have written very nice things about the book. When Cory Doctorow writes this you pay attention
“An engrossing, well-written account of the Internet’s founding and the backstory of the underlying protocols and plumbing, which draws on that rich history to make predictions about the net’s future.”
I’d call it an archeology of the future. Delving back into the history and prehistory of the internet and picking up the threads as they are woven. It leads to some beautiful insights. An analysis of the early ARPANET showed that the most common traffic was not about sharing scarce computing resources, (the driving force for building the technology) but the creation of a Science Fiction Lovers early listserv. Facebook is new and yet old again.
Johnny, in his talk this evening as he segwayed from Nuclear destruction to the printing press and an Al-Qaeda ask me anything echoed James Burke in Connections (one of my favourite, and one of the best television series of all time). It had – and the book has – that combination of well researched intellectual rigour, crafted storytelling tied into a package that assumes the audience is intelligent and interested.
I’d love to take the book and have someone create a TV series out it. Until they do, there is the book.
As a bonus the wonderful Internet lets us see the original Connections series.