Human culture sparked by "new kind of connectedness"

Jonah Lehrer explains the import of a study described in Science.

The larger implication is that the birth of human culture was triggered by a new kind of connectedness. For the first time, humans lived in dense clusters, and occasionally interacted with other clusters, which allowed their fragile innovations to persist and propagate. The end result was a positive feedback loop of new ideas.

Sounds an awful lot like what the Internet is doing, no?

The Hyperlink

Whenever I say that the Hyperlink changed the world, people look at me like “huh?” The lowly hyperlink is often overlooked as just a ‘feature’ of the Internet or the Web in particular. But I’ve always thought that was a bit backwards. The hyperlink is what made the web possible — it is for the Web what carbon is for carbon-based life-forms.

So I was tickled to find that Alex Wright’s excellent article on The Mundaneum Museum has this gem of a quotation from Kevin Kelly:

“The hyperlink is one of the most underappreciated inventions of the last century,” Mr. Kelly said. “It will go down with radio in the pantheon of great inventions.”

Birth of the Internet

Everybody’s linking to this article today, but I had to share a chunk of it that gave me goosebumps. It’s this bit from Leonard Kleinrock:

: September 2, 1969, is when the first I.M.P. was connected to the first host, and that happened at U.C.L.A. We didn’t even have a camera or a tape recorder or a written record of that event. I mean, who noticed? Nobody did. . . . on October 29, 1969, at 10:30 in the evening, you will find in a log, a notebook log that I have in my office at U.C.L.A., an entry which says, “Talked to SRI host to host.” If you want to be, shall I say, poetic about it, the September event was when the infant Internet took its first breath.

Vint Cerf on Al Gore's Internet Contribution

The granddaddy of the Internet clarifies a popular misconception.

Print What I’ve Learned: Vint Cerf
Al Gore had seen what happened with the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956, which his father introduced as a military bill. It was very powerful. Housing went up, suburban boom happened, everybody became mobile. Al was attuned to the power of networking much more than any of his elective colleagues. His initiatives led directly to the commercialization of the Internet. So he really does deserve credit.

Something tells me you won’t hear this quoted on Fox News. (Or from hardly anyone else, probably.)