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section heading icon     overview

This profile offers perspectives for making sense of the internet, drawing together information from throughout this site and pointing to more extensive guides and notes dealing with network management, security, e-commerce, intellectual property, privacy and other matters.

section heading icon     contents of this profile

The following pages cover -

  • cyberspaces - the shape of cyberspace, along with an introduction to the infrastructure on which it is based
  • models - precursors of the net and models for conceptualisation
  • emergence - a broader overview of the net, from studies of the first US academic and military computer networks to where the net becomes as ubiquitous and unremarkable as the telephone
  • millennium - the development of the net in the past decade
  • beyond the dot - visions of the future for infrastructure and use.
  • Australia - an overview of the net in Australia
  • management - how is the net managed
  • cheerleaders and critics - digerati, cyber-luddites and the media
  • conflicts - the net as a canvas for broader conflicts and the shape of contention about use and control
  • commercials - commercial colonisation of the net
  • people - a people's medium? What are people doing online
  • study - the net as an academic discipline or field of study
  • fuzzies - 'saving the net'
  • escapees - 'saving' people from the net.

The profile supplements profiles on networking and the GII, the information economy, security and governance.

It is complemented by notes on the ICT industry and specific aspects such as browsers and search behaviour. It is also complemented by a separate multi-part media and communications timeline.

     the big picture

Christine Borgman's From Gutenberg to the Global Information Infrastructure: Access To Information in the Networked World (Cambridge: MIT Press 2000) - strongly recommended - is an incisive overview of 'access' issues: standards, identification techniques, censorship, the 'digital divide', intellectual property, archiving etc.

The US National Information Infrastructure (NII) Virtual Library offers information about the information superhighway, in particular as part of the Global Inventory Project (GIP). 

In identifying resources relating to the Web and the information economy the Harvard Information Infrastructure Project (HIIP) is of particular value.  

We commend the following HIIP volumes from MIT Press: 

  • The First 100 Feet: Options for Internet and Broadband Access (1999) edited by Deborah Hurley & James Keller - looking at opportunities for business, government and communities rather than the 'last 100 feet' problem 

  • Coordinating the Internet (1997) edited by Brian Kahin & James Keller - governance, domain naming, trademarks, traffic management and pricing 

  • National Information Infrastructure Initiatives (1997) edited by Brian Kahin & Ernest Wilson - national policy, the information society versus the welfare society, NII initiatives 

  • Borders In Cyberspace (1997) edited by Brian Kahin & Charles Nesson - privacy, global rule-making, jurisdictions and other issues 

  • Public Access to the Internet (1995) edited by Brian Kahin & James Keller - pricing, the 'digital divide', national infrastructures, indigenous culture and communities online 

  • Standards Policy For The Information Infrastructure (1995) edited by Brian Kahin & Janet Abbate - papers on tying the networks together 


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version of March 2006
© Bruce Arnold
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