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The Net EffectRomanticism, Capitalism, and the Internet$
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Thomas Streeter

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780814741153

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814741153.001.0001

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Networks and the Social Imagination

Networks and the Social Imagination

Chapter:
(p.93) 4 Networks and the Social Imagination
Source:
The Net Effect
Author(s):

Thomas Streeter

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9780814741153.003.0005

This chapter focuses on the development of an unusual culture of informal, open, horizontal cooperation in the 1980s—that very distinct set of practices that are incompletely summarized today under phrases such as “rough consensus and running code” and “end-to-end design.” It looks at two historically consequential but not often noticed instances of this set of practices. The first is the development of new chip design methods in the late 1970s which led to VLSI (Very Large Scale Integration) microprocessors in the 1980s—the platform upon which the computing industry has grown ever since. The second is the process by which ARPANET efforts were split off from the military and quietly transferred to National Science Foundation (NSF) funding. Theoretically, packet-switched global computer networking could have come to us in any variety of institutional packages, but this 1980s experience of quietly guiding the growing internet into a space between the differentially charged force fields of military, corporate, university, and NSF funding left a stamp on the institutions of the internet that would have far-reaching consequences.

Keywords:   1980s, horizontal cooperation, rough consensus, running code, VLSI microprocessors, ARPANET

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