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By John Naughton

The web is the main awesome factor humans have outfitted because the Pyramids. John Naughton's e-book intersperses marvelous own tales with an authoritative account of the place the web really got here from, who invented it and why, and the place it would be taking us. so much people don't know of ways the web works or who created it. Even fewer have any thought of what it capability for society and the longer term. In a cynical age, John Naughton has no longer misplaced his ability for ask yourself. He examines the character of his personal enthusiasm for know-how and strains its roots in his lonely formative years and in his dating along with his father. a quick heritage of the long run is an intensely own social gathering of imaginative and prescient and altruism, ingenuity and backbone and certainly, of the facility of rules, passionately felt, to alter the realm.

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Some time around 1995, that began to change - the conventional media realised something was up. But what? At first the Net was treated as a kind of low-status weirdo craze, akin perhaps to CB radio and the use of metal detectors. Then it became the agent of Satan, a conduit for pornography, political extremism and subversion. Next it was the Great White Hope of Western capitalism, a magical combination of shopping mall and superhighway which would enable us to make purchases without leaving our recliners.

And doing so from their own desks without having to trudge to a library, seek guidance from an overworked staff member and then discover that the current edition of the reference work they seek is not stocked, probably because of budget cuts. Whatever next! To anyone with a long memory, there is a rich irony in the hostility of print journalists towards the Net because they are reacting to it much as their 1950s counterparts reacted to the arrival of television news. Then, as now, the first instinct was to rubbish and undermine the intruder.

This company is called an Internet Service Provider, or ISP. After a few moments, the call is answered with a whistle, and shortly after that there is a high-pitch, burbling rasp. To those who understand these things, this is a digital conversation between my modem and the one it has just dialled. They are engaged upon a process known in the trade as 'handshaking' - establishing one another's bonda fides, like two electronic canines sniffing one another. After a few seconds the rasping ceases as abruptly as it had begun and something happens inside my computer.

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