A Prehistory of Internet Governance
RESEARCH HANDBOOK ON GOVERNANCE OF THE INTERNET, Ian Brown, ed., Edward Elgar, 2013
36 Pages Posted: 18 May 2011 Last revised: 21 Sep 2012
Date Written: May 17, 2011
What social, technical, economic and political developments played a role in constituting a field, in which the idea of ‘Internet Governance’ could thrive? What are the events, stories and ideas that preceded and made possible today’s discussions about governance on, of and through the Internet? In this chapter, we take a closer look at the prehistory of Internet governance – the period from the mid-1960s to the mid-1990s before the Internet became the mass phenomenon it is today. In doing so, our goal is not to give a definitive account of Internet history, but to provide some background on the most common narratives that have informed debates about Internet governance. After sketching the evolution of networked computing from a technical perspective, we outline some of the main uses and users. These include technical accounts of the Internet as networked computing, an overview of early uses and users, a sketch of architectural principles and finally a closer look at emerging modes of governance and regulation. Our claim is that Internet governance did not come about as a clearly defined concept, but rather as an ongoing process of searching and experimenting.
Keywords: internet governance, narrative, technology, history
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