Archives for category: Thesis

I came across this stuff while digging around the internet for my thesis (yes, I think of thesis research as a hunting-and-gathering kind of process. Yes, there is definitely war paint involved), and was reminded of Ethan Zuckerman’s idea for an atlas of globalization. Thanks, Ethan, for pointing out the beauty and value of these maps!

Telegraph Lines

1891: Telegraph Lines

Internet Backbone Cables

2004: Major undersea Internet cables

I love how, because of the different legends used in the two maps, it looks like the connections around Africa/the Middle East/”the third world” have remained unchanged while infrastructure has gotten fatter and fatter inna di north. Inaccurate in actuality, but basically what’s happened proportionally anyway.

Idle, unscientific, unresearched musings, but that’s what you get at the end of the semester. Now all that’s standing in between me and “Senior Spring” is this thesis!


One of the worst things about being a Harvard student is that when non-Harvard people discover this about you, they sometimes feel the need to challenge you to an intellectual duel. A similar thing happens with being a humanities major and non-humanities people. So, as a History of Science major from Harvard, I get this all the time:
“So when WAS the internet invented? Did Al Gore really invent it? I bet you don’t know about ___, ____, and ____!!”

I usually smile and nod and do an okay job giving the Teal Deer, but I mean, guys, the history of the internet is kind of complicated. So I’m really glad this video exists, especially since it’s really pretty. You should watch it so that you know–I plan on pulling it up the next time the glove gets thrown down.

History of the Internet from PICOL on Vimeo.


(I’m pretty fascinated by large writing projects and how they grow, so I’m keeping track of my thesis’ project in a couple of ways. I’m saving one draft a week, I’m taking screenshots every hour I work on it, and so on. Maybe at the end, I’ll have a thesis and a cool animation!)

Every single time I describe my thesis to geeks, I inevitably get the response: “Ooh, how far are you going back? As far as UNIX TALK?

Er. Yeah, something like that.

I posted the first section of a paper I wrote on the topic (which I am very much cannibalizing for my thesis) eons ago, but I thought I’d show you guys the timeline I am working with so that you can a) be enlightened by just how far back IM goes and/or b) tell me of big important things I’m missing. Yes? Love you too.

  • 1965 – .SAVED written for CTSS
  • 1974 – Term-talk for PLATO
  • Late 1970s – talk for BSD Unix
  • 1981 – BITNET‘s MSG developed–would eventually turn into IRC
  • 1983 – Unix talk updated (renamed ytalk) to use split windows
  • 1983 – Project AthenaZephyr
  • 1983 – The Internet is Born
  • 1985 – On Line Messages for Quantum Link for Commodore 64
  • 1985 – SMS is considered in a GSM subgroup as a potential service
  • 1992 – First SMS sent
  • 1993 – SMS commercially deployed in Sweden, the US, Norway, and UK
  • 1994 – Q-Link turns into AOL
  • 1996 – ICQ released for Windows 95. Has 12 million users in 2 years.
  • 1997 – AIM becomes available to non-AOL users
  • 1999 – MSN IM released
  • 1999 – AOL tries to sue people for the term “Buddy List”
  • 2000 – IMUnified, a consortium of IM companies like Microsoft and Yahoo, start pushing for an interoperable protocol
  • 2000 – Trillian released the first version (0.6) that could connect to AIM, ICQ, and MSN.
  • 2000 – Jabber released publicly
  • 2002 – Patent for ICQ
  • 2005 – Microsoft and Yahoo made their clients interoperable, marking the beginning of the end of the IM wars