by Maryam Ali
The Internet is an indelible part of the 21st century world, exerting a powerful impact over our work, social lives and even our politics. So how did it become such a powerful and ever-present tool? Cypress Lakes High School student Maryam Ali tackles this historical question in the website, “The Internet: A Powerful Changing Force of the World.”
Ali argues that the Internet was initially developed as a Cold War strategy to gain a geopolitical advantage over the Soviet Union. After the USSR launched Sputnik in 1957, President Dwight D. Eisenhower created the Advanced Research Projects Agency, or (ARPA), to challenge the Russians’ technological prowess. And with the help of an MIT graduate student named Leonard Kleinrock, ARPA created ARPAnet, the predecessor to the modern Internet, which the government publicly released in 1969.
As it rose from 334 users in 1969 to 1.1 billion by 2007, the Internet revolutionized the lives of millions around the world. Ali’s site examines how various aspects of our lives have changed—both positively and negatively—as a result of the Internet, including communication, economics, politics and culture.
Ali concludes that the Internet represents a considerable turning point in history. She argues this technology created a “convergence of people with different cultures and ideas from every corner of the globe” and provided an opportunity for them “to voice their opinions, which could become catalysts for major events to take place and change the world.” It has made a “big world…accessible to anyone.”
Leonard Kleinrock (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
A visualization of various social networking sites (Image courtesy of “The Internet: A Powerful Changing Force of the World”)
Iranian protestors from the Green Revolution of 2009-2010, many of whom used Twitter to organize (Image courtesy of “The Internet: A Powerful Changing Force of the World”)