ON RAMP TO THE INFOBAHN
A Screen Printer’s Guide to the Internet
I share this here for its historical value. The language for describing the Internet was still in flux. This was the preface, because things were so new people weren’t even sure what it was.
Feel like you’re stuck at the Info Superhighway’s on ramp with no clue how to merge? Here’s some practical advice on how to get into traffic, and news about a sort of cyberspace truck stop where the virtual neon sign says, “Welcome, Screen Printers.”
In the second half of the twentieth century, the medium of television changed the way we live. In fact, having grown up within this ever-changing culture, we hardly notice the ways we’ve been influenced — and manipulated — by TV. The ways we dress, entertain, even medicate ourselves. Our attitudes, our habits of consumption, even our dreams. All have been impacted by the medium of television.
The mega-salaries of our sports heroes are directly attributable to their TV exposure. (Back a generation, sport was sport. Today it’s Big Business.)
The remarkable changes wrought by the civil rights movement of the 60s can be directly related to the increased influence of television news. Undoubtedly you can call to mind countless more examples yourself of the ways the Television Age has transformed our world.
A New Age
It is not the 1990s, and a remarkable new technology has captured our imaginations: The Internet. This emerging communications medium is already provoking visions of virtual worlds in a cyberuniverse united by a vast electronic interconnectedness.
What is this thing we call the Net, the Infobahn, the Information Superhighway? How will it change our world? As with TV, I am convinced we have no way to imagine the changes that are ahead for us.
To be sure, any attempt to paint, in this small space, a comprehensive picture of everything you find in the Internet cyberspace would prove as futilie as attempting, in 200 words, a detailed history of every building in New York City.
Volumes have already been written on the Net. So I’ll try to focus on what’s happening in this new realm as it pertains to screen printing, and I’ll try to help you get hooked up if you wish to be a part of it. (If you’re into comprehensive, a good place to begin might be the fifty-page overview “The Changing Face of Online” that ran recently in PC Magazine, Feb. 21, 1995.)
What is the Internet?
Some have compared it to a computer version of an endless supermall, overwhelming in its options. Others see it as an immense library where all the books are randomly piled in the middle of the floor.
It’s not owned by anyone. It’s not run by anyone. It’s not even known how big it is, though it’s estimated that between 20 and 30 million computers in over 200 countries are connected to it. And it’s growing. (If it maintains its current rate of growth it should be larger than the universe by 2010.)
Technically, it’s a computer network. Though most people picture Internet as one big supernetwork, it id instead a networok of computer networks — over 30,000 of them. They are connected to one another by means of