4AAVC103 History of Networked Technologies
Module convenor: Dr Stuart Dunn
Teaching Pattern: Ten one-hour lectures and ten one-hour seminars
In the second half of the module we move on to the changes in network technology wrought by the coming of the World Wide Web in the early 1990s. The Web to which computer users could contribute as well as consume led to the rise of social media, and all the changes in our societies and habits that it bought. The module will look at how mobile computing, GPS and wireless technologies have taken the Web from our desktops to our pockets, and reflect on how this has made the internet a network of people rather than a network of machines.
Throughout, the module will highlight the contributions of key individuals to the evolution of network technologies, including those of Ada Lovelace, John Von Neumann, Alan Turing and Tim Berners-Lee.
In conclusion the module will reflect on how the internet is governed and managed, focusing on battles over censorship and net neutrality, particularly conflicts between Anglo-American institutions (such as ICANN) and institutions with nation-state representation (such as the ITU). How has the history of the internet led to these battles? The course will conclude with a return to that key question of what the history of network technologies - and the most successful network technology of all, the internet - tells us about the relationship between analogue and digital thought and culture.
At the end of this module, students will be able to:
- Understand what a network is, and conceptualize the many forms one can take. They will be able to contextualize these with theories of the nature of networks. and the way in which networks function as a means of understanding the world.
- Appreciate how the internet, and later the World Wide Web, form part of the broader evolution of methods of communicating and consuming information. Building on the understanding of networks and network theory, including their long history, coverd in point 1 above, students will develop a critical understanding of what is distinctive about the Internet and WWW as network structures. This, in turn, is key to understanding how digital cutlture grows from these networks, and what makes it distinct from other forms of culture.
- Reflect on different accounts of internet governance and types of network control, with an understanding of the distinction between standards and regulation.
2 x 2000 word essays (50% each)
The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.