The Evolution of the Internet as a Global System
In almost everything we do, we use the Internet. Ordering a pizza, buying a television, sharing a moment with a friend, sending a picture over instant messaging. Before the Internet, if you wanted to keep up with the news, you had to walk down to the newsstand when it opened in the morning and buy a local edition reporting what had happened the previous day. But today a click or two is enough to read your local paper and any news source from anywhere in the world, updated up to the minute.
We have had the pleasure of publishing a number of noted scholars and often have seen their articles reprinted in paper journals. Our members are very busy with public presentations and workshops. Several who began as electronic neophytes are now heading up centers for studying or publishing electronic materials. We are in discussions with a major academic publisher for a hard-copy series on electronic materials in history, following upon several successful years of producing M.E. Sharpe's History Highway series. These are all, of course, gratifying achievements, made possible by a very hard working group of scholars, both national and international. But above all, we were simply at the right place at the right time, at the beginning of the transition from hard copy publishing to electronic publishing just as the field began to take off. Those first four years were a period of what now seems to be almost complete anarchy; there were few rules and almost no precedents, beyond trying to live up to the traditional concerns of our predecessor historians. It seems a strange question, but more than once we asked ourselves what Thucydides or Ssu-ma Ch'ien would have done with this new medium. We now find ourselves at the brink of a new era, at a period of consolidation as we begin to consider not only the advantages of the Internet, but also some of the disadvantages. Those of us we have played joyfully in the fields of anarchy now must ask ourselves where it is that we are going. Accordingly, this editorial attempts to consider the Internet and the place of the JAHC within a very broad historical perspective. Here we consider the linked topics of the Internet, globalism, global civic culture, scholarship, and terrorism.
(See case studies and an analytical perspective on the interaction between Internet and networked social movements in Castells 2012.)
Abbate, Janet. A Social History of the Internet. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999.
Boyd, Danah M., and Nicole B. Ellison. “Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 13, no. 1 (2007).
Cardoso, Gustavo, Angus Cheong, and Jeffrey Cole (eds). World Wide Internet: Changing Societies, Economies and Cultures. Macau: University of Macau Press, 2009.
Castells, Manuel. The Information Age: Economy, Society, and Culture. 3 vols. Oxford: Blackwell, 1996–2003.