What Has 50 Years Shown Us?

by Jay Deragon on 06/07/2008

Sometimes when we look back at history we can get a glimpse of the future. In this weeks issue of Vanity Fair there is a fascinating recap of the history of the internet which is well worth the read.

The story starts : “Fifty years ago, in response to the surprise Soviet launch of Sputnik, the U.S. military set up the Advanced Research Projects Agency. It would become the cradle of connectivity, spawning the era of Google and YouTube, of Amazon and Facebook, of the Drudge Report and the Obama campaign. Each breakthrough—network protocols, hypertext, the World Wide Web, the browser—inspired another as narrow-tied engineers, long-haired hackers, and other visionaries built the foundations for a world-changing technology. Keenan Mayo and Peter Newcomb let the people who made it happen tell the story.”

“This year marks the 50th anniversary of an extraordinary moment. In 1958 the United States government set up a special unit, the Advanced Research Projects Agency (arpa), to help jump-start new efforts in science and technology. This was the agency that would nurture the Internet.”

Get more stories straight from the mouths of those who lived them in our special collection of oral histories. Plus: See our slide show of Internet pioneers. Photograph by Christian Witkin.

“This year also marks the 15th anniversary of the launch of Mosaic, the first widely used browser, which brought the Internet into the hands of ordinary people.”

“Millions of words—multiplied and sent forth by the technology itself—have been written on the world-changing significance of the Internet, for good or ill, and the point hardly needs belaboring. Surprisingly, few books have been written that cover the full history of the Internet, from progenitors such as Vannevar Bush and J. C. R. Licklider up through the entrepreneurial age of our own times. Not many people recall that the first impetus for what became the technology of the Internet had its origins in Cold War theorizing about nuclear warfare” To get a copy of the entire story go here.

Is the Future a Reflection of the Past?

A lot has been learned from the past dynamics brought on by the internet. The one main thing that has been learned is that things will change and the technology driving change is emerging moment by moment. The changes actually fuel new discoveries and creativity that only speeds up the cycles of change. What has happen over the last 50 years is now in a cycle of no more than five years.

So as we reflect on 50 years of history we can conclude that the next five years will bring about continued disruption of traditional markets and more power and influence to the individual. The irony about the future is that it presents itself now and the related opportunities to capitalize on the future is in the hands of the few who adjust moment by moment and create tomorrows future of Socialutions.

What say you?

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