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CachedDecoding the Internet in Global Popular Culture$
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Stephanie Ricker Schulte

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780814708668

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814708668.001.0001

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The Internet Grows Up and Goes to Work

The Internet Grows Up and Goes to Work

User-Friendly Tools for Productive Adults

(p.55) 2 The Internet Grows Up and Goes to Work

Stephanie Ricker Schulte

NYU Press

This chapter discusses how in the decade following the release of WarGames, computing became a more common activity, which led to more networking. It illustrates how computer networking emerged as a symbol of national economic power and productivity. Throughout the mid- to late 1980s and early 1990s, hopeful views of the Internet and computer corporations began to gain resonance. These (often) corporate visions challenged previously threatening representations—like the anthropomorphized computer capable of overpowering or replacing humans—and helped recast the computer as a friendly co-worker. In recasting the Internet, corporations, advertisers, and news media outlets also re-imagined the Internet user. The out-of-control computer jockeyed by an antiestablishment teenaged hacker shifted to a “user-friendly” computer controlled by a knowledgeable, adult “user.” The chapter also looks at the transformation of the Internet as a political sphere instrumental in helping America retain global economic dominance.

Keywords:   computer networking, economic power, productivity, 1980s, 1990s, computing, Internet user, political sphere, America, global economic dominance

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