Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Internet

Ask Slashdot: Significant Documents of the Internet 188

coldfusion submits this thought provoking question: "If you were creating an anthology of documents which have profoundly affected computing and the Internet, what would you choose? Some examples: Eric Raymond's essay The Cathedral and the Bazaar or John Perry Barlow's A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace. Items could be technologically, socially, and economically significant -- either in negative (eg., a lot of US laws) or positive ways. There's a lot to discuss here. Another question has occured to me as I write this: has such an anthology been created? If not, wouldn't it be a worthwhile project to create a web-based anthology of the most important documents which have defined the very nature of the internet (and technology in general) today and in the future? There are anthologies of historically significant writings in the founding and early development of the USA, so why not one for the founding and early development of the internet?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Ask Slashdot: Significant Documents of the Internet

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    A bit long for normal "anthologization," but it's an important document's that's been released for internet distribution.

    A copy can be found at:
    http://www.eff.org/pub/Publications/Bruce_Sterli ng/Hacker_Crackdown/

    - Lawrence Person
    http://www.delphi.com/sflit/novaexpress/
  • by Anonymous Coward
    everyone knows al gore invented the internet
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Jon Postel, in RFC 791, sums up the internet in
    one nice quote:



    "A name indicates what we seek, an address
    indicates where it is and a route indicates
    how to get there."
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I do not mean to criticize that work, but is "The Cathedral and the Bazar" really a document from the history of the Internet? I'm sure we'd all like it to be a part of the future, but what does it have to do with creating the Internet? Perhaps I'm misunderstanding the question, but I would think you're talking about maybe early essays (did they even write essays?) by Burners-Lee or Andreeson or someone else like that (at least as far as WWW goes). What does ESR's work have to do with it? Sure, it's significant, but it seems like it's full effect is more in the making than already made.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I would think that some of the early and seminal FAQs should be in such a repository; the news.announce.newusers FAQ, for example, and whichever the first *.marketplace FAQ was (as examples as the first attempts to suggest proper general netiquette and the netiquette of business tranasactions over the Net).
  • by Anonymous Coward
    As a previous poster said, it's a bit premature to undertake such a task. I agree it's an interesting mental excercise, but while we're at it, let's account for some variables.

    By all measures, the internet is becoming an advertising medium, much akin to the early development of radio or TV. "The great educator," and all that. Wonderful, noble visions, but it didn't pan out that way. Where is the internet REALLY going, folks? And more importantly, how will that affect the history of the medium itself?

    Someone mentioned the gcc's popularity and the GPL -- I assume they were thinking along the lines of the GNU Manifesto. That's fine and good, but look at how quickly C became the dominant language. It could get supplanted by something better (ooo, perhaps even something PROPRIARITY) in a rather rapid fashion, given the correct circumstances.

    Along those same lines, the open source movement could blink out pretty quickly. "No, no, heritic!" they cry. But sure. If C drifts away, and corporations decide their best bet for short term profits (what most corps. are after) is closed source, Open Source as a movement will flounder. The code will still be there, sure, but if no one's using that code, it doesn't amount to much. I know I've got a lot of useless COBOL kicking around on disks in a closet. Don't you?

    What if the libritarians have their way and anti-trust laws are repealed? Even if it's not microsoft, we could see someone else come in dominate, and pretty much control what we use.

    (As someone pointed out the other day, the gimp won't infringe on photoshop's market anytime soon because of the panatone process and it's associated patents. A few more patents like that, and we're in a different world.)

    I do believe that ESR has secured himself a footnote in history, with the _Cathedral_ being the impetus for Netscape's decision to go open source and all that. But c'mon... as a business move it was the only option, and as an open source move it's sort of dead in the water. It's plausable that it's all downhill from there. Unless more people get on the bandwagon pretty quick and make it WORK, well...

    I'd also like to point to the rather obvious fact that usage of computers and the internet requires a lot less technological knowledge than it used to. And when most histories are written, the heavy engineering side is omitted. When was the last time most people (I hesitate to address you, the reader directly, given your high degree of technological knowledge) read a history of radio that really got into the details? How many people really know what farnsworth, deforrest, and marconi _did_? If they do know, it's probably something vague like "fed back amplifer" or something to that effect.

    As we're all acutely aware, history is written by the winners. And we don't really know who'll win yet, where this medium will be. This doesn't make conjecture moot, but just spouting off stuff that's "neat," like I said, might be a bit premature.
  • by BOredAtWork ( 36 ) on Saturday July 24, 1999 @05:29PM (#1785898)
    Um... isn't the very nature of the internet itself such that there is no collection of Special Documents? I mean, isn't the very nature of the internet defined by the existance of "Joe's Dog's Homepage", "My Resume" and "My favorite links" pages?

    Honestly, what makes Cathedral and Bazzar so special in terms of the internet, anyways? It's a 5 or 6 page paper. It describes the nature of Open Source Software, and does that quite well. Sure, it exists on the internet, but that makes it no more relevant than the thousands of Geocities pages.

    If you've got to find some kind of What Makes The Internet What It Is Today collection, look no further than the USA's Bill of Rights, and the results of it's existance - the ability of anyone to say anything, and be heard when they do it. That's the one and ONLY thing that separates Internet from Radio and Print Media, when you get right down to it. Live radio is instantaneous, free, and widely available, but content censored. Print Media is more or less free and open, but wide distribution is near impossible (without a HUGE bankroll or LOTS of time), and it's almost never up-to-the-second current.

    Hrm... did I have a point in all this? Damn... I forgot!

    --

  • From ESR, I would add The Jargon File [tuxedo.org]. The Cathedral And the Bazaar is more about Software than the Internet, but if that's there, than RMS's Why Software Should Be Free [gnu.org] should also be there.

    Another critically important RMS piece (and one more relevant to the internet) is The Right to Read [gnu.org].

    Also there's The Declaration of Independence [of the USA] [unc.edu], not as a document in its own right, but as the first entry into Project Gutenberg [promo.net].

    Getting more internetty, you've got RFC Number 1 [utah.edu], the description of the tentative IMP protocol to be used between the four systems on the brand spanking new ARPA network.

    Going to distant history (in computer terms) there is the 1945 paper by Vandemaar Bush, As We May Think [w3.org], one of the inspirations for the ARPA project.

    There's the 1989 whitepaper from CERN's Tim Berners-Lee, Information Management: A Proposal [w3.org], the paper that started the WWW.
  • by oblom ( 105 )
    Great idea! Let's start by GZIPing all related RFCs ;-)

    Seriously, only time will show which papers have captured the 'birth' of the Internet and should be saved. It's too early to do this now. Our perspective is too subjective.

    But that's just my personal opinion. So there.
  • by Erbo ( 384 )
    I think the RFCs are very important, not just for the technical history they provide, but for highlighting the very nature of the Internet standards process and what made it unique.

    Up until then, pretty much every other "standards" process was the result of endless debates on highly politicized committees (e.g. OSI) or was imposed ba a single powerful entity, most likely a vendor (in the old days it would have been IBM or DEC, nowadays it's more likely to be Microsoft), on everyone else. The Internet standardization process changed all that; standards were now created as part of a consensus by people who built things that worked well.

    The very name of the documents--"Request for Comment"--implies this consensus-building process, that even the most fundamental standards are not "set in stone," but are subject to revision whenever deemed necessary. It's this kind of approach--maintaining consensus, keeping it simple, and staying flexible enough to deal with technological change--that made Internet protocol implementations as widespread as they are, and in turn made the Internet as popular as it is. This kind of "open standards" practice also forms one of the firm underpinnings of the entire Open Source movement.

    I'm glad to see that there are efforts underway to collect and preserve the entire RFC series. These documents are vital to understanding, not only the history of the Net, but some of the reasons why it has become so widespread.

    Eric
    --

  • How about a copy of the posting that those green card lawyers sent to Usenet? Probably not the first instance of what we now call "spam" but definately the first bigtime one where people called attention to it. Archiving spam is a pretty lame concept but no one can deny that it has had a huge impact on the lives of everyone who spends even a little time on the net.
  • The EFF has a large archive about the issues of Freedom on the Internet. But they also have all kind of paper about the various social issues:

    http://www.eff.org/archives.html [eff.org]
  • The USA is indeed the most important country in the development of the internet, considering that it created the damn thing. The Bill of Rights is important, because if it did not exist, the internet would have become a highly censored place before any other countries were even allowed to join.
  • It's possible, but it certainly wouldn't have been how it is today, and I would estimate it wouldn't become as accessible as it is today until sometime well into the 21st century. The only areas other than the U.S. with enough technology to create an internet-like "supernetwork" would be Japan and the EU. Japan has nowhere to network itself to (unless it wanted a self-contained national network), and the EU has a bad track record of cooperation on large projects (Aerobus is *still* run pretty badly). We'd probably have ended up with something worse than InterNIC.
  • Yes, telnet really is a protocol. The telnet client does some negotiation with the server, mostly about the terminal type of the client. If you try connecting with a raw socket to a telnet server, it (most of the time) won't work. That's why netcat has a -t option to do telnet negotiation.

    Yes, HTTP is a fairly simple human-readable protocol, but it's still a protocol. HTTP/1.1 is somewhat more complicated, though still not really very complex.
  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot@ha c k i s h . o rg> on Saturday July 24, 1999 @06:35PM (#1785907)
    I would definitely not put "the cathedral and the bazaar" as a significant document of the internet. My list would probably consist almost exclusively of RFCs. How can anything be more important to the development of the internet than the RFCs establishing TCP/IP, FTP, IRC, HTTP, telnet, and a variety of other protocols?
  • by Rasmus ( 740 ) on Saturday July 24, 1999 @05:37PM (#1785908) Homepage
    Personally I think code and technology has had the most profound impact on the Internet. ARPA, UUCP, BGP, bind, sendmail, Mosaic, Netscape, Apache, etc. Papers come after the fact and tend to talk about stuff already there. Remove one of the above pieces of technology and the Internet would be very different today. Remove most of the papers people might come up with and I doubt things would be all that different.
  • I would include a smallish section on the birth of usenet spam, and the subsequent (near) death of usenet as a result. Documents relating to C&S's infamous Green Card Spam might be appropriate (the original post, possibly a sampling of posts to the various news.admin.abuse groups, etc.)

    I think the Internet worm qualifies, as well, and Melissa may be of interest years later.

    I first accessed the Internet in 1992. I used it for email, usenet, and ftp. I really didn't pay much attention to the more non-collaborative services-- WAIS, gopher, HTTP. IMHO, Usenet wasn't as conducive to essay writing as HTML is today. To only include essays and single documents in preference to (edited) usenet threads would be a mistake.
  • This is interesting but way too hypothetical and speculative; as you say, an unlikely scenario. Would not likelier scenarios be more interesting -- such as the fact the the continued use of the GPL disperses the power from the computing elite to computing newcomers, thus making computer technology have a more democratic basis? That is much more likely to happen and fortunately makes for a better society.
  • OK, I know this in itself was not influential, but the stuff it documents was, is, and will be, influential. Every Slashdotter must read that story! If you are too cheap to buy it, get it from the library. The whole book is great, but Part One and the Epilogue (together less than 170 fast-moving pages) give a fascinating portrayal of the best kind of spirit that is behind computer innovation.

    It is sometimes glaringly obvious that some Slashdotters have not read this stuff. Please read it, and even if you have read it, but a couple of years have gone by and you have grown stale, read it again.

  • This seminal FAQ is one of the documents that has changed the internet for the better: hundreds of thousands of stupid arguments never occured because someone read this first and THOUGHT before they posted.

  • I think all the RFCs provide an execellent historical account of how the Internet (and lately the web) have developed. They show how standards have evolved to meet the needs of the increasing number of users and new uses the Internet has been put to. Other similar documents from the IETF and the W3C would also be important.

    Of course, some may view these as just "technical" documents, but considering that the Internet *is* a technical thing, and has evolved according to some sort of techno-sociological phenomenon, it seems appropriate.
  • Reading through 150+ posts, what I find most striking is how few suggestions there are, beyond the RFC's. Anyway, I'd propose Chuq von Rosbach's Usenet etiquette guide [bilkent.edu.tr] (even if he did once chew me out for an off-topic posting on an Apple mailing list).

  • But I'm guessing it would have taken a LOT longer to happen if the US weren't fronting it. I'm loath to give the Yanks credit, but I'm fair and give it where it's due. Many good things have come out of the US's love affair with "neet military stuff". The internet's one of em. I say let them keep footing the bill to develop this stuff and when it goes from the military to the private sector we all just mooch off their tech ;`)
  • If I had my 'druthers, I'd include the Open Source Definition, it's predecessor the Debian Free Software Guidelines, and the month-long discussion on debian-private that led to the DFSG. Rather than being directly related to the Internet, though, I'd call them products of the Internet - they never would have happened without it.

    But then, I'm prejudiced where the OSD is concerned :-)

    Thanks

    Bruce


  • Any essay citing emacs as an example of the clarity and efficacy of consensus-based coding falls a bit short... Zoinks.


  • Any proposal citing GNU Emacs as an example of the clarity and efficacy of consensus-based coding falls a bit short... Zoinks!

    It's still boggling that arguments like that sold Jim Barksdale on Open Source.

    Don't get me wrong, I believe in this stuff. Just not the ESR-ified and RMS-ified versions.

    Oh and on the topic itself-- Do an archive, just don't do one that's too full of itself, which is the problem with most ventures like that. And for god's sake do some nice html. Two-thirds of the Linux sites out there *still* look like somebody's sophomore research project page.

  • ...I'd vote for PBS's series "Triumph of the Nerds". A very good look at what got to where we are. A bit dated now, it is nonetheless in my opinion required viewing for nerds and geeks of all types. :)

  • Russ Allbery's A Rant [eyrie.org]. I don't know that it's profoundly affected anything, but there's a good chunk of what's good and bad about Usenet and why anyone should care in there.
  • As Stephenson points out in his foreward to the paperback Snow Crash, unbeknownst to him when he wrote it, Apple (i think) had written VR software using what they also called 'avatars'. The idea was in the ether, and many people discussing the notion of multi-person VR's independantly used the term, meaning 'the manifestation of a Hindu deity (especially Vishnu) in human or superhuman or animal form; "the Buddha is considered an avatar of the god Vishnu"'.

    No one, so far as i know, predicted that Quake would be the first popular instantiation of it.

    mahlen

    Remember: the average is as close to the bottom as it is to the top.
    --anonymous
  • This is actually something that waxes and wanes with time. Back in 1982 i was trying to get into the CS department at Berkeley; it was tremendously full; people with B+ averages weren't getting in, about one person in five would actually get into classes they requested, the department advised everyone to have back-up majors in mind. This was, you'll recall, when the first PC revolution was really coming down, Atari and Apple were high-flying companies, and people who were looking for big money careers looked to CS. I even met someone who was getting a CS degree, but really wanted to do sales.

    But then the bottom dropped out of the small computer market, and Wall Street traders became the instant-wealth spotlight (on borrowed money, but that's another matter). All the greedy people became Business Administration majors, and by the time i graduated (1989), the CS department was welcoming people with open arms.

    It's sad that the pendulum has swung back, mainly because i don't think that one can be a good programmer/engineer without loving the field. Of course, the job market is so overheated right now that you don't have to be that good. But still, people who persue CS for the money will hate the work, i'd guess.

    mahlen

    Cthulhu for President
    Don't settle for the lesser evil!
    --Chaosium Inc., 1992
  • I suppose it is relevant to the net, a little. In that it talks about a method of software development, that is alot more feasable via the internet.

    But I would hazard a guess, that the primary reason for mentioning that it is a necessity, is that it's a pro-GPL document. And every slashdotter knows that GPL will save the world from the great satan(Bill G. that is).

    I think that it's inclusion is just an example of the strong editorial bias of the site.
  • One set of infamous documents that has definitely caught many eyes, and invoked many reactions is the so-called "Halloween Documents." While this may not be as relevant as other documents out there, it definitely contributes to the knowledge on the inner workings of how Microsoft deals with outside threats to market share, and what these threatening products were.

    Somehow, I think 10-15 years down the line, these documents will prove to be very interesting.

    The road Ahead, Mr. Gates? I see Linux..... -Accipiter

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • From: torvalds@klaava.Helsinki.FI (Linus Benedict Torvalds)
    Newsgroups: comp.os.minix
    Subject: Gcc-1.40 and a posix-question
    Message-ID:
    Date: 3 Jul 91 10:00:50 GMT

    Hello netlanders,

    Due to a project I'm working on (in minix), I'm interested in the posix standard definition. Could somebody please point me to a (preferably) machine-readable format of the latest posix rules? Ftp-sites would be nice.

  • From: torvalds@klaava.Helsinki.FI (Linus Benedict Torvalds)
    Newsgroups: comp.os.minix
    Subject: Gcc-1.40 and a posix-question
    Message-ID: <1991Jul3.100050.9886@klaava.Helsinki.FI>
    Date: 3 Jul 91 10:00:50 GMT

    Hello netlanders,

    Due to a project I'm working on (in minix), I'm interested in the posix standard definition. Could somebody please point me to a (preferably) machine-readable format of the latest posix rules? Ftp-sites would be nice.

  • 1) The GNU Manifesto.

    2) "The Cathedral and the Bazaar"

    3) the communications decency act, and it's reprecussions.

    4) Adminspotting... sure, it's a little obscure, but most admins have been in such a category, and in one essay sums up what most of us feel on a day to day basis. besides, what historical event in human existance doesn't have some sort of ironic humor?

    5) the diary of the people at UNLV who sent the first data packets over the phone line. ("we typed an 'L' in 'login', and UCLA got it. We then typed the 'O', and the computer crashed")

  • you know you all outta get out a whole lot more. you wankers spend all you time in front of a computer when there is a whole nother world out there. get off your asses, go talk to someone, you'll see how much more there is out there and how little influence the internet has on every day life.

    you guys need to step outside your own brains, talk to other people, those who have no inkling about the net other than that it's like one huge computer. they think differnt, they live differnt, they are so far from what you may originally have thought that it boggles the mind. you can start your little two pence revolution, but you don't get it.

    Thank you for the suggestion, Anonymous, but many of us have tried that and failed. Nobody's perfect. We happen to be socially inept, so we redirect our sexual energy into code and such. Don't deny us what sparse joy is to be had from the 'Net.

    What we do may not cure loneliness, but it sure qualifies as human progress. Ask any captain of industry.

  • The term 'avatar' itself was used by AOL precursor QuantumLink, the Commodore 64/128 service, for a thing that was initially to be released as 'Habitat.' As I recall, Habitat was being worked on by the Lucasfilm software people, and it initially promised a pretty interesting unrestricted environment with fantastic elements. The term 'avatar' was the user's alterego in the Habitat environment.

    Habitat didn't happen, but Q-Link did release a horrible thing called "Club Caribe" where you could wander around and gamble and buy stuff (like new heads for your avatar.) A bug in the software allowed for the fairly disturbing phenomenon of people being able to come up and take your head if you made the mistake of taking it off for some reason (like... you could was reason enough for me.)

    I guess Club Caribe went away when Q-Link did. The last I remember seeing it was some time in 1988, but I don't remember when Q-Link finally pulled the plug.

    Was it immersive? Nope. Was it 3-d? Nope. But it was an electronic alternate universe where you could be represented as you liked by a computer alterego.


    ----------
    mphall@cstone.nospam.net

  • One of the first (if not the first) ARPANET mailing lists was HUMAN-NETS, formed before many Slashdot readers were even born. Many of the discussions there anticipated the Internet of today. It's a precurser to USENET, and to discussion sites like this. Unfortunately, although some of the last HUMAN-NETS postings are archived in http://communication.ucsd.edu/A-News/FA.human-nets /FA.human-nets-index.html [ucsd.edu], I don't know where earlier issues are archived.

    Such an archive would be a record of the earliest wide-ranging (not just technical) discussion on a computer network.

    -Ed
  • Doncha think other countries would've developped something of their own just like they did?
    Man, the internet would've existed w/o the usa too, it's a logical evolution of computing technologies.
  • I guess it depends on whether we're going for a survey of important documents (think executive summary) or an in depth catalog of every minutae that shaped the Internet, directly or indirectly.

    This probably hinges on who the intended audience is. If it's for ourselves (geeks), then anything but the deep catalog will probably bore us. If it's for everyone else (non-geeks). Then anything more comprehensive than a survey of the topic will be overwhelming. I'm not implying that non-geeks are stupid, but who else but a geek would care about each individual Internet protocol? Perhaps we should do both.

    For a survey level collection of important Internet documents, I'd suggest that RFC1 [ 1 [slashdot.org]] is the single most important RFC, simply because it started it all. RFC2555 [ 2 [slashdot.org]], a.k.a. "30 years of RFCs" would be a usefull citation for giving context to RFC1.

    For in an in depth catalog, covering all relevant RFCs, the large majority (if not all) of the the work has already been done. You simply need to link to, or include the index of RFCs that form the Internet standards, RFC2500 [ 3 [slashdot.org]].

    Tim

    [ 1] RFC 0001 [isi.edu] Host Software

    [ 2] RFC 2555 [ietf.org] 30 Years of RFCs

    [ 3] RFC 2500 [ietf.org] Internet Official Protocol Standards

  • "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" has never had anything much to do with changing the internet itself but it sure had a significant effect in a related area.

    It was "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" that prompted the board of Netscape Communications to launch the Mozilla project, and thus to become the first household-name company to publicly espouse open source.

    As an open source project Mozilla itself may be viewed by some as a failure, but the shift in public perception that it created changed everything.

    It was only after the Mozilla project took off, finally lending corporate credibility to open source and open source products like Linux, that dozens of other blue chip companies followed suit. Within a year, it had become a PR necessity for many companies to jump on the bandwagon in order to be perceived by the techie community - an important demographic in their markets - as "white hats" rather than "black hats".

    It is the geek community's joint hope that while this fashion lasts those companies, and others as yet unconverted, will measure the benefits of the open source development model and the potential size of the market for open source platforms, and find them worthwhile for the longer term.

    If you are asking "so what?" I'd like to remind you that before all this happened, one of the most powerful and most frequently uttered criticisms of Linux was that there were hardly any important applications available for the platform. Particularly, as far as server deployment was concerned, industrial strength databases.

    But within just a few months of Netscape's surprise move, this had ceased to be true. All of the most important database platforms (Oracle, Informix, Sybase, DB2) were ported. This was followed by commitments from Corel, Intel, Lotus, even SAP. and many others too.

    I don't want to underestimate the effect of Microsoft's hamstringing by the DOJ trial, in freeing these companies to exploit new platforms.
    But without Eric Raymond's evangelical essay, Netscape would probably have simply sold out to AOL much earlier and very probably none of the above would have happened at all because those companies would still have been insufficiently unaware of the existence (let alone the quality) of Linux and open source in general for them to have taken such a radical course.

    In that parallel universe, there are still hardly any apps for Linux, and the number of open source user and developers is still relatively tiny.
    Consciousness is not what it thinks it is
    Thought exists only as an abstraction
  • "As We May Think" by Vanover Bush would have to
    be at the top of any such list.
  • Yep. It has nothing to do with the Internet. In fact, I do not think it had much effect at all on anything.
  • I think it was Microsoft that prompted Netscape to create Mozilla project. Basically, Netscape lost and that was the most honorable way out ...
  • I agree with everyone who has said that software documents have no little or no bearing on Internet development.

    I'm surprised that no-one has gone back and considered Fidonet. It was BBSing that introduced a lot of people to the online concept, and I dont think there was any more important document to the BBSing community than the oft-misinterepreted "Policy 4" in its various incarnations.

    It was this document that attempted to organise the network that in a lot of places, the Internet has modelled itself around (in the ideas of information interchange and filtering down from a top via 'nodes') - and this document that angered people enough to the point that there could be no similar such control placed over Usenet/the Internet itself.

    Craig
  • So you want to categorize everything relevant to the Internet, since the first days of Eniac and maybe even some trivia about what came before (telegraph, phone systems, etc.). The problem here is: the net is so big and touches so many topics, iteracting with each other in a way that truly resembles a web.

    For example, we have the phreakers' history. Sure, they shaped a lot of our current world (if it weren't for them, and from the ones who borrowed the name 'hackers' and started compromissing lots of sites' security, we would have almost no security on our systems today; no flames please).

    Then we have the other 'hackers' history, this one portrayed in the now-ESR-maintained Jargon File. It also has a lot of history of its own, including the recent events (which are a lot).

    If we zoom in a bit, we get (for example) the Debian's history. How it started, how it grow, the issues it faced, etc; and the Slashdot's tale, a virtual pub with its anti-M$ zealots, censorship attempts, the First Posters, MEEPT!, the gnulix_guy, and lots of other people.

    Then we go back out and drift a bit. We get the tales of an awful clone of a brain-dead OS, the os called CP/M and the clone is... Well you can guess it. This is also long, we had years and years of borging and fighting, from the bad to the worst to the not-so-bad (5.0+), then (in parallel) the almost unknown old Windozes, the best-of-all Win3.1x, and the progressive bloat of the 9x family.

    We also have a corner for the spammers history, entangled with the USENET and email history. We have a corner for the UNIX wars and their siblings (*BSD). We have a corner for rec.pets.cats and the crosspost flammage that went there.

    All of this is significant for some groups and completely irrelevant to other ones. However, if we left them out, it would be discrimination.


    I think this is way too big for just a small group of persons; we need a bazaar style. The problem is that the Internet time is a lot faster than the real world's, i.e., more happens in a specific amount of time in the net than in the Real World. This is because the Net is composed from the lifes not of just a geographically close group, but from millions of people from around the world.

    We would need some way of categorizing the facts. This would be hard. Some are time spans, some are specific dates, some are 'circa 1984'. We would also need to have lots and lots of subcategories, and some way to 'zoom in' from the less specific general timeline with only the most relevant facts to a very specific timeline with all the 1000+ events in a single week or in a specific but small topic in a larger period of time (like the dpkg history since Dec 1999).

    To sum it up: you are nuts. We don't have enough diskspace. We would need the space of a Boeing-747 full of DVDs. (OK, I'm exagerating a bit, but not much). If we could do it, we would get lagged faster than you can say 'Benedict'.


    Sorry if I got carried away, it's late. And if I mispelled something, it was on purpose.
  • That is exactly waht I was thinking...
    If you want to start collecting documents that were vital in making the net what it is today then the first thing to do is grab all the RFCs. Once you have those then there is little else you need.
  • Since various people have nominated sci-fi stories, I'd like to suggest a few more.

    Douglas Adams Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

    I suggest the Bastard Operator From Hell stories also belong in Internet (or Computing) history documents. Without these true anecdotes from his life, thousands of network administrators would not be the power mad, paranoid freaks that they are.

    [Take all the above with a pinch of salt]
  • The whole point of Cathedral and The Bazaar was
    that it was advocating not just _free_ s/w devel,
    but _bazaar_mode_. This is NOT a GNU Idea.
    Linux-kernel is bazaar mode, HURD is (was?) not.
    EGCS bazzar is GCC was not.
  • My top pick for a document "which have profoundly affected computing and the Internet" (emphasis added) is Bill Gates' document, "An Open Letter to Hobbyists." According to the PBS film mentioned in a previous post ("triumph of the nerds") this was the first evangelization of proprietary software. Making it more meningful, it's written by the man who has profited the most by it.

    As long as we're including the documents that we hope will define the internet in the future (GNU Manifesto, Open Source Definition, Debian Free Software Guidelines, etc.) we should also be careful to include the documents that made computing what it is today...

    "Space exploration is not endless circles in low earth orbit." - Buzz Aldarin
  • The URL for whomever wants to read it:

    http://www.dsuper.net/~pcmuseum/openltr.html

    and here's the link [dsuper.net].
  • Threaded discussions exactly like we're having now on slashdot, graphics, commercial stuff.
    BBSs were very important for awhile when the Internet was still academic based. Lots of things carried over.

  • I agree totally with what you're saying... and it just hit me...

    Once you refine that a bit, you're saying that the best collection of documents on the development of the Internet is the internet itself.
    --
    - Sean
  • > This is interesting but way too hypothetical and speculative; as you say, an unlikely scenario. Would not likelier scenarios be more interesting -- such as the fact the the continued use of the GPL disperses the power from the computing elite to computing newcomers, thus making computer technology have a more democratic basis? That is much more likely to happen and fortunately makes for a better society.

    I'm obviously not the original AC here! :-)

    But anyways. Yes, I'm sure that is a more likely scenario, but empires fall most quickly when their leaders concentrate on the good and ignore the bad.

    I'm not saying that the Open-Source/Free Software (OS/FS) movement is an empire, but the basic idea still applies. And when one is decentralized as much as we are, everyone is a leader, or at least a potential one.

    If we only look at the future through the proverbial rose-coloured glasses, then if something unexpected happens, such as what our friendly neigbourhood AC has proposed, we are up shit creek without a paddle, so to speak.

    The best offense is a good defense. If we at least consider all the things that could possibly "go wrong," rather than dismissing them offhand as "hypothetical and speculative," then if, horror of horrors, one of them does occur, we will be at least a bit prepared for it, and have some idea of what to do.

    Maybe not a concrete plan, but better than nothing.

    It is everyone's responsibility who wants to see the OS/FS movement succeed and blossom to at least consider unpleasant outcomes, no matter how unlikely. That way, if the unlikely becomes inevitable, we may have someone with an idea of how to head it off.

    To ignore this is dangerous.
    --
    - Sean
  • > 5) the diary of the people at UNLV who sent the first data packets over the phone line. ("we typed an 'L' in 'login', and UCLA got it. We then typed the 'O', and the computer crashed")

    Hehe... that sounds priceless... where would one be able to find said diary?
    --
    - Sean
  • I'm interested in your comment but my otherwise healthy mind cannot figure out what "EU" stands for. The problem stems from the fact that in Portuguese, "Estados Unidos", abbreviated "EU", means "United States". :)
  • by umoto ( 19193 )
    Here, here! Although the technical aspects of the Internet are interesting and important, what's even more significant is the social aspects. If we can grasp the past and the reasons why things have developed as they have, we can determine the future. But without good records that are easy to find, the past is as blurry as the future.

    Where the Internet excels is its ability to publish information. Where it often fails miserably is the ability to collect relevant information into a single trusted place. Slashdot captures the essence of that disparity by putting relevant information right along with the irrelevant, allowing chaos to generate useful information. The result as surprising as the beauty of fractals, which are based on amazingly simple mathematics.

    So although a collection of documents and biographies would be very useful, it would be difficult for any single entity to assume the trusted role of guardian, unless of course an entity that already has the trust of the community were to accept the undertaking. The IETF may have that status, but with "engineering" in their name the last thing they want to do is write MORE DOCUMENTATION! ;-)
  • It's the only text file that ever meant anything to me. It's CDC 200. [cultdeadcow.com] Read it.

    -sunking

  • Rather than one of those dry historical anthologies, would it be better to base it on the collected real-life stories of Jon and the IETF? What are writings but a meeting of minds across space and time? When an author sits down and composes something, it's like having a conversation with a future soul. What is missing is the context, the idealism and passion of the times. Living during the French revolution is vastly different from reading about it. What would you want your peers to know about the celebration of the individual and challenge technical mastery?

    Perhaps slashdot could keep an open archive for a few months to collect people's memories of the evolution of the internet, along with crystalised documents, with the aim of producing a cdcard (youanthologies know one of those shape CDs) to (yeah, cheesy but the rest of the population thinks a date is important) commemorate the new millenium?

    We can then call it BE and AI for before and after internet :-)

    LL
  • We must preserve this piece of "cough" internet history.

    http://www.tucson.com/hawp/ruth/humor/texts/jato _car.html
  • I like that. It follows the the idea of words are fine but actions are what really make a difference. Should we be making a snapshot of technology then? A yearbook of sorts that doesn't contain information, instead it contains methods (ie how programs/information interact with each other)..
  • I'd beg to differ. Though I'd have to say that BSD is more relevant to the net itself (BIND anyone?), some of the best software that the net itself runs on is either BSDL or GPL.

    One of the driving forces behind the orginal propogation of the net was it's freedom, in both Beer and Speech. Without these free licenses, I have no doubt that some other free license would be taking their place right now. But still, these are the free licenses that made the software that made the internet itself.

    Remember, commercialization came to the Net, the net wasn't formed by commercialization. So free software itself is a major factor in the birth of the 'net. And if not in it's birth, then it's upbringing. I still follow the (somewhat dated) ideal that anything I want I should be able to find on the net for nothing, be it entertainment, operating systems, music, anything.

  • Wow, so they made the 'net. (Or was it Al Gore? ;-}) More accurately, a network was made as an experiment. This network grew to connect major universities. Some people liked it and it grew. The rest is history. That doesn't mean that the US is the sole driving factor behind the net. The web itself came from Europe, as did Linus' kernel.

    In fact, I'd have to say that today, the US is actually SLOWING the propogation of the net. There have been recent attempts at 'regulation', but thankfully have all been struck down. Moreso though, is the issue of the crypto export laws. With widespread crypto, the net would be a more secure place and more people would feel safe using it. But with these laws, crypto is left to be something that's not easy and not included with major computing products.

    And as far as Internet egos go, yeah, ESR ranks up there in my books =)
  • I don't know, the good folks at cDc [cultdeadcow.com] are constantly saying that they published the first e-zine, since 1984 or something. Anyways, I had completely forgotten about it but the Hackers' Manifesto should be included. That's some powerful reading.

    -gocubs
  • it's been a while since I read it, but isn't this what the jargon file does?--at least in a way--it mentions the important docs, and their significance, although the versions I have seen don't link to or contain the actual docs. This is what it was created for though.
  • just because gibson was first doesn't make him the God of cyberpunk, many of the ideas were there in earlier books, he just put them together--and Stephenson is not gibson for dummies--it is gibson off of the crack pipe
    you know where I first remember hearing about a cell phone? Space Cadet by Robert Heinlien, writen in like 194?, 195? something
  • I think this is an excellent idea - if modified slightly. Only a historical perspective will truly show us what were the significant documents of the internet, but I think a nice repository of important, or at least interesting documents would be a Good Thing. I wouldn't mind working on this. I am thinking a collection of suggested/donated documents, very accessible, nicely formatted, and always growing. Sort of an ongoing archive of current thought and philosophy. If anyone else thinks this is a good idea, email your suggestions, documents, urls.... I build a page and start thinking about layout...
  • If we where to do this we would need to do this right. I don't think we can really choose what is of historical significance. To do this up right, we should ultimatly try and store every computer/internet related document we can find. Now I do think we can live without including the "Hey this is a picture of my computer" webpage. But honestly who is to make such a decision. I guess ultimatly a few indescriminatory measures could be used.

    Web page hits: sound silly but the more people read any document how ever strange it is, the more that document has the potential to effect the internet as a whole. The frog in the blender for example.. ok bad example, as its not truly internet related but might as well be stored, for embarresment sake if anything. This would also cover many major documents like the Cathedral..
    as many people have read it.

    Legal documents: Any court rulings, congressional hearings/bills etc. that deal with the internet and its freedom.

    RFCs: Request For Comments. DUH.

    Histories: Histories and bibliographies on major companies (yes even microsoft) and people, that have had an effect on the internet. (This would be the tough one as it would call for some judgement, but he basic rule should be that if there is any even remote consideration for a person/company they should include them. I'm not saying that the group that stores these records should create such bibliographies, but if one exist, and there is any reason to believe that they/it had an effect upon the net, it should be included.

    Free Submission: While ultimatly there needs to be a board or voting group (slashdot?? hehe) in control. All people should be able to submit documents. Such documents shold have a minimum of review. Look to see if the submission is of geniune intent, and store it.

  • by Desperado ( 23084 ) on Saturday July 24, 1999 @06:23PM (#1785961)
    I first saw the GNU Mainfesto by Richard Stallman in Dr. Dobbs' Journal in 1985 (I think) and I wrote Richard to see what I could do and got a letter back which just overwhelmed me with what he wanted to do. Overwhelmed in the sense that I sat on the sidelines because I didn't think I could do any of the things he listed. Write a compiler, recode UNIX utilities, create an operating system. I wasn't up to any of these. But I was caught up in the vision.

    I'm glad there were many others caught up in the vision who were not overwhelmed and made the dream a reality. Would it have happened without the manifesto? I doubt it.
  • Although I don't know if such a repository exists (with the exception of the RFC files), I have a strong feeling that it will be important. Maybe in 20-30 years time, similiar problems to today will be occuring with the 'Net, and having some historical perspective means a lot of difficulties can be solved.

    Maybe its just cause I have a love for information and knowledge ;)

    darkewolf [cyberpunks.org]

  • I would like to nominate a usenet message
    from prof Andy Tanenbaum where he proclaims
    that linux is obsolete.

    I believe the news thread is still distributed
    with every linux kernel src.

    Tanenbaum had some valid points, but I guess
    he did not forsee linux' huge succes.

    Bram Stolk
  • I had completely forgotten about that book until I happened accross a badly abused copy last week that a coworker had brought in strictly for historical musement. That's the book that got me started so many years ago. I remember when the web was still called gopher. The excitement I got out of learning about the internet turned into a four years and running career for me.
  • "The History of The Net" by Henry Edward Hardy

    Written back in 1993(!) as a master's thesis, it is, as far as I know, the *first* history of the net. Maybe you even read it in school; it's been downloaded thousands of times and translated into many languages. Here is a quote from the beginning:

    "Why write a history of the Net? It's not enough to say merely that it's never been done.

    The Net is a unique creation of human intelligence.

    The Net is the first intelligent artificial organism.

    The Net represents the growth of a new society within the old.

    The Net represents a new model of governance.

    The Net represents a threat to civil liberties.

    The Net is the greatest free marketplace of ideas that has ever existed.

    The Net is in imminent danger of extinction.

    The Net is immortal. "

    Check it out at The History of The Net [ic.net].

  • European Union
    _
    "Subtle mind control? Why do all these HTML buttons say 'Submit' ?"
  • if "jacking in" is connecting to the net, what's the term for 'disconnecting'?
    _
    "Subtle mind control? Why do all these HTML buttons say 'Submit' ?"
  • Actualy not *all* the RFC's are technical
    I remember reading an wired artical about RFC 2000 + somthing called "30 years of RFCs" or somthing, there is a lot more intresting stuff in those files to, but I don't know many people who feel like diging through all those texts. I've read two myself: IRC and http 1.0 nothing to exsiting
    _
    "Subtle mind control? Why do all these HTML buttons say 'Submit' ?"
  • it telnet really a protocol? I thought it was just raw packets directly from the keyboard to the server, and back to the screen.
    not really much of a protocol, actualy nither is HTTP, have you ever read the spec? its simple enough to run by hand, IE telnet directly into port 80 and type "GET / HTTP/1.0"....
    _
    "Subtle mind control? Why do all these HTML buttons say 'Submit' ?"
  • Not all of these are online.

    Hardware

    • Teletype ASR-33, [204.117.207.9] teletypewriter very popular as a computer terminal.
    • Popular Electronics, January 1975, cover story: MITS Altair 8800 microcomputer. [exo.com]
    • Apple II [seastar.net] with its color graphics and multiple easy-to-access expansion slots.
    • IBM PC [byte.com] and its corporate desktop success providing cheap hardware for all.
    • IBM's MicroChannel bus [aol.com] and its failure showed the popularity of open hardware.
    • Hayes [hayes.com] modem command set [modems.com] allowed modem control without custom device driver.
    • VGA graphics. Finally the IBM PC could show reasonable images. Web browsing later became a significant side effect.

    Software

    • VisiCalc. [j-walk.com] Killer App. Welcome to "electronic spreadsheets." A reason to buy a computer.

    Early Computer Magazines

    • People's Computer Company, an organization promoting personal and community computing. A computer newspaper before there were computer publications. Community Memory was an early idea for sharing computer databases at computing storefronts.
    • dr. dobb's journal of Computer Calisthenics & Orthodontia, an early proponent of publishing source code. Evolved into Dr. Dobb's Journal [ddj.com].
    • Byte magazine [byte.com], its huge 50,000 copy beginning and eventually the first computer magazine to appear on general magazine racks.
    • Kilobaud magazine, very popular hacker magazine, often with sources (remember programs on vinyl sheets for playback from phonograph player into cassette interfaces?).

    Conceptual

    • Homebrew Computer Club. [bambi.net] Build your own computer if you can't afford a small CDC or PDP to heat your house. I was designing a TTL personal computer until the 8080 appeared; sure was nice to have quad NAND DIPs.
    • Xerox PARC center [xerox.com] with its influential network and user interface experiments.
    • MECC: Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium" [mnonline.org] spread timeshare computing to all Minnesota school districts, then Apple computers. I worked there in the 1970's. State of MN has since sold it.
  • The first IMP installation [latimes.com] thirty years ago is described in today's L.A. Times. Nobody took a picture of the start of the ARPANET. [umn.edu]
  • by SEWilco ( 27983 ) on Saturday July 24, 1999 @06:16PM (#1785972) Journal
    Well, we may as well suggest some entries so they gather in this database.

    Internet Overview

    Technical History

    Concept History

  • No, the RFC's for the protocols are far more important than any particular implementation of them. The actual foundation of the Internet is documented within a fairly small number of the RFC's. All of the main protocols are there, and with the appropriate RFC, anybody can write software to implement that protocol. That very fact is crucial to an understanding of how the Internet got established. There are other documents of course (a few from the IETF might have some signifigance :), and there is certainly a lot more to the overall history `Net than protocol specs, but other posts seem to be covering the more... um... colorful aspects.
  • Well, there is a more to the the Internet than just the web. There is more history here than just that of HTML and Apache. Sure, the web is just a collection of meaningless home pages, but how did the web happen? Who created it? Who created the network for it to run on? How did all that happen? How did a completely non-proprietary global network get created in the first place? Just think, if things had worked out differently, then /. might be just another Compu$erve forum, or a channel on MSN.
  • Zen and the Art of the Internet [indiana.edu] (This may not be the canonical version) was one of the first help files (I think it was published as a book later) that really tried to cover all common aspects of the internet at the time. I found an online version in 1991 when I first got on the net (the interactive one, as oposed to UseNet), and it helped a lot to get an understanding of how things worked, both technically AND socially. It has a good section on netiquete. It doesn't cover spam (at least it didn't when I read it) because believe it or not, there was a time Before Spam.

    The version that I pointed to may be the latest version, which raises an interesting problem for historians. Because of the speed and ease of which documents can change on the internet, it is nearly impossible to find the "first edition" of a given document.

  • From reading these responses, you'd think the Internet began three years ago.

    Of course a lot of the early RFCs fit the bill, but here's my nomination for one of the really significant documents that was not an RFC: the paper End-to-End Arguments in System Design [mit.edu]. This paper laid out the basic principles that drove the design of most of the Internet protocols. One of the authors, Dave Clark, was the "Internet Architect" during the 80s when the basic protocols were designed and put in place.

    If you can't read PDF, you can find the paper in several other formats at http://web.mit.edu/Saltzer/ww w/publications/pubs.html [mit.edu]

  • by KoF ( 33336 )
    Maybe not so much about the internet, but I would have to put my vote behind the Tao of programming (it is hanging on my wall) This book/doc is a required reading for all incoming cs majors. Also, the Zen isn't bad either

    "After three days without programming, life becoming meaning less"
  • I was the project leader for Habitat at Lucasfilm and it was me that adopted (I won't say "coined" as the word itself is of course older than anybody here) the term "avatar" to denote the embodiment of a persona in a virtual world. My collaborator in this, Randy Farmer, and I wrote a fairly lengthy post-mortem which you can find at http://www.communities.com/paper/lesson s.html [communities.com] and which has had a lot of influence on people in the field.

    -- Chip Morningstar
  • Jacking out.

    The process of 'surfing' is usually[1] referred to as 'decking', a reference to the little dedicated computers that handle the neural interface and usually the networking and net-specific programs. The users of such devices are called 'deckers'.

    1: In RPG's anyway, which give Gibson credit for the terms. Authors tend to think up there own words, though none them have the same staying power.
  • just because gibson was first doesn't make him the God of cyberpunk

    Actually, he wasn't first. Shockwave Rider (*grumblegrumble* still can't find a copy) beat him by 7(?) years, and was in turn behind Vinge, IIRC. But Gibson really defined the genre, albeit retroactively.

    and Stephenson is not gibson for dummies--it is gibson off of the crack pipe

    The crack pipe is part of the genre. The thing Stephenson is lacking is the punk. Sure the world of Snowcrash isn't nice, but it's a kind of shallow dystopia--all strip malls and suburbia (this is on purpose, of course; Snowcrash was supposed to be fairly light-hearted). In fact, everything is shallow: the characters, the plot, etc. Hiro is a generic hacker/warrior, Raven a generic tank, and the most interesting parts of the book are monologues about Sumerian culture and dated neuroscience. Some neat ideas (though not after I actually studied neuroscience) and stuff to steal for games, but it may as well have been a sourcebook for the Snowcrash world for all the story in it. All of this IMO, of course ;-)

    you know where I first remember hearing about a cell phone? Space Cadet by Robert Heinlien, writen in like 194?, 195? something

    How about Metropolis, 1927? Andriods, the 'plex, dystopia, etc. Very cyberpunk, esp. for a 72 year old German film.
  • Whether or not "the open source movement could blink out pretty quickly" there is no reason why we should not record our stories. The sharing and records of a culture are some of the most important ways to educate others about your history and to provide a key to the culture, just ask an anthropologist. For example, the Hacker's Dictionary is a great piece of history, written at a time when computers didn't even have close to the amount of influence they do now. Yet that document has helped me become acquainted with the spirit that was geeks of yore as well as informing me of its influence on hacker culture today.

    It is actually even more important to record the history if it is so short-lived, as you claim is a possibility. If one believes in the ideals (I know this word is somewhat touchy, if you prefer insert purpose or fun or whatever else you want) of the open source movement that might die it would be useful to record a history so that others who believe in the same sorts of things will see what made this die.

    Anyway, by the time that we 'know' our place in history and have 'perspective' it will be too late to do the recording of the history. This would be an important document in the history of the development of the internet, computing, etc.

    joey
  • by Silas ( 35023 ) on Saturday July 24, 1999 @05:45PM (#1785982) Homepage
    One approach might be to discuss what criteria we'd use to decide if a given document or site would be included (free-form voting or Slashdot discussion won't do it, I'm afraid). For example:

    1) Is the document or site well known by a wide variety and large number of people related to the development and culture of the Internet? (e.g. Decl. of Ind. of Cyberspace)

    2) Does the document or site provide insight to the development of the Internet, its technologies, and its culture? (e.g. CatB)

    3) Did the document in some way influence, impact, or otherwise direct the development of some part of the Internet and/or its culture? (e.g. proposed Communications Decency Act)

    4) Is the document or site particularly well-written, interesting, unique, "cool", or noteworthy in format, style, and/or appearance? (e.g. Slashdot's format)

    5) Does the document or site address an issue or question that is as yet unresolved, or that deeply affects people and institutions beyond the Internet?

    Are there others? Is this a realistic undertaking?

  • The definitive copy of John Perry's Declaration can be found at http://www.eff.org/~barlow/Declar ation-Final.html [eff.org].
  • I don't think cyberspace as Gibson visualized it in Neuromancer exists quite yet, and it certainly didn't back in the mid 80's when he wrote it. Books like this can be important because they act as points of inspiration for the folks who later make these ideas a reality. I'm reminded of how I once saw all of these NASA scientists and astronauts talking about how Star Trek sparked their interest in space when they were kids. Just as the novels of Jules Verne or H.G. Wells inspired earlier generations...
  • Hmmm... I dont get the idea of an archive of documents (i.e. static snapshots) of the most dynamic medium ever... Oh, well, a coupla of suggestions anyways:
    * The List of Lists (pick a few good dates).
    * The list of Internet resources (same).
    * The 'Good Times' virus, second only to the Worm.
    * A posting by 'Hasan B. Mutlu' ... probably the most successful AI to-date...
  • This may be overly simplistic thinking...

    Seems to me like the documents produced by the W3C would be a good place to start. Standards are the backbone of how we present information on the internet. And this would also take into account that more significant documents are being developed all the time...

  • If you've got to find some kind of What Makes The Internet What It Is Today collection, look no further than the USA's Bill of Rights


    Yeah, that's it, let's not forget that the U.S. of A. is the sole owner of the Internet, and we should all be thankful that the U.S. exists. But otherwise, yeah, you're right, ESR is no more important than a hell of a lot of other people in *Internet* terms.

  • by slaker ( 53818 ) on Saturday July 24, 1999 @08:32PM (#1785993)
    Geez, the first things that ever gave me an
    idea of the "shared consciousness" of the internet
    were the various humorous brick-a-brack that
    I found on wiretap.spies.com and the like.
    Some of that material pre-dated anything I can
    remember from my very first time on the internet,
    in 1993.

    The 100 question purity test was something even
    my non-geek friends knew about after their
    first year of college. And they knew where it
    came from, too.

    The original Mosaic start page.

    Famous Spam (& other email crap)
    ------------
    The ASCII cow drawings.
    Neimun-Marcus Cookies recipie.
    Craig Shergold and those damn cards.

    etc.
    ------------

    The GeekCode listing.
    The jargon file.

    The news.announce FAQs. The alt.sex FAQ
    (all of MY friends read it).

    USENET was the global community long before
    web sites like /. ever came into being.
    There must be dozens of long-lost threads out
    there that should be included in such an archive.
    Serdar Argeric? Kibo?
    Sparring on the Scientology groups?
    Linus' initial postings about Linux (an testament
    to what the efforts of hundreds of programmers
    working cooperatively can do, if nothing else).

    The rec.humor.funny post that got USENET censored
    at U.C.Berkeley. Briefly.

    Posts from the Kremlin (kremvax IIRC) immediately
    before the fall of the Soviet union -- since these
    messages were literally the only information
    that got out of the country at the time.
    This may very well be the only time that the
    internet has been the SOLE source of information
    about an event of such global interest.

    The announcement that AOLers would have free
    access to the internet (mostly USENET at the
    time, ie Black September).

    The Warlord signature (people with .sigs that
    were excessively long got "warlord-ed". I know
    I was, but then, I was trying)

    The Starr Report (important for a number of
    reasons, not the least of which being the degree
    to which the lengthy report brought so MANY web
    servers to their knees, even 6 years into the
    "web age" of massive internet growth).

    The sex story written by (can't remember the
    name...) Jake Baker, the gentleman who was
    arrested in Michigan for writing a story involving
    the sexual torture of a classmate -- important
    because it's the first time *I* can recall that
    someone got in that type of legal trouble for
    something written on the internet. And probably
    where the internet's rep (independant of AOLs,
    which I think suffers for different reasons) for
    porn-related bad seeds.

    How 'bout a representative cascade? (fun when
    everbody had 80-column newsreaders!)

    I can think of lots more, but these are things
    that were either widely read and understood,
    or things that shaped both the internet and
    the outside world.

    There was more on the internet than the GPL and
    RFCs before the web.
    --
    Lutefisk.

  • I believe that Zen and the Art of the Internet had a tremendous impact on the development of the web. Not only was it one of the first books available, but its author Brendan Kehoe gave it away on the web. So it was open source of sorts before there was an open source.
  • Question:

    How can anything be more important to the development of the internet than the RFCs establishing TCP/IP, FTP, IRC, HTTP, telnet, and a variety of other protocols?


    Answer: it provides a reason for wanting TCP/IP, FTP, IRC, HTTP, and telnet in the first place.

    If you understand, for example, exactly how to implement a CSS Level 2 renderer, but don't understand how the World Wide Web got to the point where people cared about what web pages looked like- regardless of content- enough to want CSS Level 2, you don't understand the most significant aspect of the internet.

    It seems to me that while some RFC's, particularly the most important ones, are certainly good candidates for inclusion on a "history of the internet" anthology, the internet transcends in significance the protocols from which it arises, and that fact is what makes it important. Therefore, articles about people are certainly as significant as articles about UDP.

  • by ufdraco ( 78193 ) on Saturday July 24, 1999 @05:32PM (#1786018)
    The Cathedral and the Bazaar: http://w ww.tuxedo.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/cathe dral-bazaar.html [tuxedo.org]

    A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace: http://hobbes.ncsa.uiuc.edu/sean/ declaration.html [uiuc.edu]

Take an astronaut to launch.

Working...