Twenty five years ago, the first four cells of the Internet, the global electronic network now connecting hundreds of millions of people -- ordinary and humble citizens with heads of state, CEOs with secondary school pupils -- was created to connect four major research universities in the western United States. At the time, the computer scientists, engineers, physicists, and chemists whose work could be supported by this nascent effort to establish inter-institutional communications resisted the intrusion into their established patterns of work and communications. The US Department of Defense exerted pressure, threatening to withhold research funding, in order to force universities to join the network and individual faculty to use electronic mail. The support computers then offered for communications was minimal, to say the least.
Even as DARPA planted this revolutionary seed, the first ancestor of present-day marvels like the World Wide Web, I was busy editing technical documentation for the University of Michigan's state-of-the-art time sharing system, MTS, supporting myself in this fashion so that I could continue to pursue my undergraduate degree in English literature.
Nice story, you say? Here's the point.
This page is part of the article, "E-literacies: Politexts, Hypertexts and Other Cultural Formations in the Late Age of Print."