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<nettime> BBC writer can't fathom the Internet
Ronda Hauben on Sun, 4 Jan 2004 14:55:18 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> BBC writer can't fathom the Internet


Is there some reason the BBC can't understand what the Internet is about,
or take the trouble to spread an accurate understanding of it, rather than
a mistaken conception that makes the Internet into the one network
ARPANET?

Specifically the Internet is a network of networks - or a metasystem of
networks. It makes it possible for diverse networks to speak to each
other.

The ARPANET was a connection of different computers and operating systems,
not at all as the BBC story portrays it. See the following which is the
BBC version of the ARPANET and Internet. And below I have included a quote
from a paper where the creation of the Internet is described:


On Thu, 1 Jan 2004, Dave Farber wrote on his IP list posted: >

> What the net did next
> By Mark Ward
> BBC News Online technology correspondent
>
(...)
>
> TCP/IP was key to turning the Arpanet into the internet.
>
> Small start
>
> The Arpanet came before the net and demanded that all computers that
> connect to it do so with the same hardware and software.
>
> By contrast, the net, thanks to TCP/IP, could let people on different sorts
> of computers running different software, swap information.
>

The real contrast is quite different, however.

>From a paper about the ARPANET and the Internet:

"The ARPANET solved the difficult problem of communication in a network
with dissimilar computers and dissimilar operating systems. However, when
the objective is to share resources across the boundaries of dissimilar
networks, the problems to be solved are compounded. Different networks
mean that there can be different packet sizes to accommodate, different
network parameters such as different communication media rates, different
buffering and signaling strategies, different ways of routing packets, and
different propagation delays. Also dissimilar networks can have different
error control techniques and different ways of determining the status of
network components."

.... The challenge in accommodating dissimilar networks is at once a
conceptual and architectural problem. Kahn recognized the need for a
communications protocol to transmit packets from one network, and reformat
them as needed for transmission through successive networks. This would
require that there be black boxes or gateway computers and software that
would provide the interfaces between the dissimilar networks and which
would route the packets to their destination. (18) Also there would need
to be software to carry out the functions required by the protocol.
Appropriate software modules, and perhaps other modifications to allow
efficient performance, would then have to be embedded in the operating
systems of the host computers in each of the participating networks and
gateways would have to be introduced between them. The design for such a
protocol would be a guide to create the specification standard for the
software and hardware that each network would agree to implement to become
part of an internetwork communications system. The standards or agreements
to cooperate would be set out in the protocol."

   (from The Birth of the Internet: An Architectural
                   Conception for Solving the Multiple Network Problem)
                http://www.columbia.edu/~rh120/other/birth_internet.txt

We want the Internet to grow and flourish. It would seem important than to
start the new year off with accurate information about its development.

Ronda



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