Yesterday marked the 40th anniversary of the creation of the ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet. On that day in 1969 a small laboratory on the UCLA campus unleashed a force which has spread to every corner of the world, revolutionising communications forever.
Henceforth people working in far corners of the globe would be able to find each other easily, pool their knowledge, and trade information.
The first message ever sent immortalised a word which would become part of everyday vocabulary – it was supposed to be ‘loggin’ but in a FAIL that would equally become part of the common vernacular, only the first two letters were successfully transmitted before the system crashed.
Still, that humble greeting marked the start of a phenomenon that has become such an important part of modern life that many experts argue access to it should be a right rather than a privilege.
Its birthday has been disputed, depending on how we interpret the term Internet. The right to access to it is equally disputed by frightened Governments and irate copyright holders. How unfortunate then, that yesterday should also have been marked by the sentencing of Neil Strachen and James Rennie.
It is not only the world of academic knowledge that was pooled by the Internet.
Sex offenders world wide have been spared the embarrassment of that fireside chat in the pub – ‘I fancy raping an eighteen month old kid, then a quick kebab, how about you?’ – only to be rebuffed by a horrified neighbour. Now those of similar tastes can seek each other out in safe anonymity, pool their knowledge and encourage each other in their excesses.
Police in Edinburgh discovered that Rennie, the chief executive of a charity which offers ‘advice’ to young gay and lesbian people was at the heart of an electronic web which linked almost 200 such deviants through 125,000 indecent images of young children.
Rennie’s idea of celebrating Hogmanay was to rape an eighteen month old baby boy. That he had managed to make contact with 200 other people of similarly deranged minds is solely due to the Internet. The law of probability states that you would have been rendered unconscious by a swift blow to the jaw long before you had held sufficient ‘fireside chats’ to weed out 200 such minds from the general population.
Truly the Internet is a remarkable invention.
So was splitting the Atom.