"Sixty years ago the futurist Arthur C. Clarke observed that any sufficiently
advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. The internet—how we both
communicate with one another and together preserve the intellectual products of
human civilization—fits Clarke’s observation well. In Steve Jobs’s words, “it
just works,” as readily as clicking, tapping, or speaking. And every bit as
much aligned with the vicissitudes of magic, when the internet doesn’t work,
the reasons are typically so arcane that explanations for it are about as
useful as trying to pick apart a failed spell.
Underpinning our vast and simple-seeming digital networks are technologies
that, if they hadn’t already been invented, probably wouldn’t unfold the same
way again. They are artifacts of a very particular circumstance, and it’s
unlikely that in an alternate timeline they would have been designed the same
The internet’s distinct architecture arose from a distinct constraint and a
distinct freedom: First, its academically minded designers didn’t have or
expect to raise massive amounts of capital to build the network; and second,
they didn’t want or expect to make money from their invention."
Excellent article, and good to see the reference to our work at Xanadu. I also
commend their work at https://perma.cc/
Via Esther Schindler.
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics