I’m a little stunned

Yes, sure… I understand the internet. At one point in time I even taught the basic history in a few of my classes.

I didn’t know at the time, but I even lived the prehistory of the internet.

War is a curious thing, yes it is bloody, scary, and full of mayhem. But it is also the cause of much of our art, literature, and things that we cherish as a civilization. For example, in the US we have something called the Interstate highway system. Designed freeways that links both coasts, which are thousands of miles from each other.

One might think it was designed for trade, and yes, it is used for trade. One might also think it is used to take families on vacations to other states. It is used for that as well.

But in the designs for lane widths, and overpasses, it is designed to handle Sherman tanks on a trailer. President Eisenhower had intimate knowledge of the German Autobans and he felt the need to protect his country with the same type of system, and when he became President he helped to create the interstate highways that we use today. It doesn’t matter that we now have airports.

In the same way we captured some Nazi scientists that experimented in rocket design. Sending the first inter-continental rocket/missile to our enemies (Soviets) was an important objective. At first we had the idea that Virginia or maybe Maine was a good launch base, but then Soviet subs could knock them out.

So add a little more fuel and the missile silos could all be in the mid-west under the corn and wheat fields. Once that was done, the Soviets had their own inter-continental missiles that could target our silos. Someone looked at the map and realized that if the missiles were launched it would cut our country in half. The West coast would not be able to communicate to the East coast. Since we were talking about land lines, the decision was made to install hundreds of switches behind “node” or hubs of communication connections. Looking from above it looked like a puzzle, or a “web” of connections. If a missile blew up this part, the signal would wrap around and go through another node. More missiles? More nodes!

This system was Arpanet, and in the Army I used it everyday for cryptographic communication. The Pentagon realized that putting a node at all the universities around the nation was an easy way spend defense money. Time went on, satellites went up.

Soon, the Pentagon realized that the satellites duplicated the ground system with better technology. So they gave the Arpanet system to the education systems where the most “nodes” were. For a few years they had fun sending messages from one .edu to another .edu with green blinking cursors. Then suddenly, other .orgs showed up, the “Internet” on the “web” got larger. There was nearly a riot when the first “.coms” appeared. How dare they pollute the system with crass profit makers?

Okay, enough, we know what happened next. All I’m saying is that we don’t realize how important building a good defense, creates the opportunity for a renaissance.

Today I pondered my weeks email. I’ve been writing to Magnus who lives on Faroe Islands, off the coast of Scotland. His family has lived there on and off since the 1500s.

Hare Krishna has liked my blog for years, he lives in New Delhi. While I don’t know much about him. He has read hundreds of my thoughts.

Manfred has just retired in Germany. He loves to sail and travel with his family. We share several letters a month.

I’ve just started a communication with Johan in South Africa. His family has been there well over two hundred years. I love the way he thinks.

I understand the internet, but sometimes it just shocks me anew.


About johndiestler

Retired community college professor of graphic design, multimedia and photography, and chair of the fine arts and media department.
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