An Internet Timeline

We’re just starting week 3 of the 5 week summer iteration of the Internet Course. It’s been intense (a Repo Man’s life is always intense), but also awesome! Last week we collaboratively built the first of four projects this course will produce: an internet history timeline. It covers more than five decades of history, and does a pretty remarkable job framing the history of the internet from Vannever Bush’s “As We May Think” up and until the latest rules surrounding net neutrality released on April 1, 2014. There are 123 points on the timeline, and it is a remarkable breadth of historical moments collected in less than a week—four days to be exact!

The creation process of this timeline was an amalgm of several approaches. First, as a class we decided on using a timeline to learn the history of the web, inspired by this student group’s timeline from last semester narrating the history of ARPANET. After that, we reached out to Jack Hylan, one of the four students who worked on that project, and asked if we could copy their timelineJS template and build off that. He was cool enough to say yes, and we went into the week with the 1950s and 60s done for us. Why reproduce the effort if it’s already been done so well? From there, Alex Marshall and Kimberlee Vizzi  brilliantly directed the project for the week making sure each student in the class took a decade and was adding their work to this wiki page dedicated to the timeline. They also negotiated questions of organization, curation, and then spent the past weekend populating the timelineJS’s Google Spreadsheet with all the dates, titles, descritpions, media, etc.

This was an awesome experience, and I’m really digging the idea of transforming each week into a project focused on producing something that will help others learn about the content we’re covering. And given the way this class designed the timeline in the wiki, I’m imagining the next Internet Course in Fall could further their work by building out this resource with more detailed research about particular elements on the timeline. I’m really fired up with how this class is gelling, and what they’re producing. So good!

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