Almost everyone knows about the Internet. More than a billion people around the world are now online. The Internet is a powerful tool for information and communication.
The basic concept of the Internet was first thought of in the early 1960s. It began as a military research network, designed to be decentralized or spread out over many locations. If one location was attacked, the military could communicate from another location. The first small network went online in 1969. It connected four universities in the United States. This network was very successful from the beginning. Scientists could now share information about their research. In 1972, email was invented and quickly became the most popular application. By the end of that year, the network connected many universities and government research centers. The general public became aware of the network in the late 70s. A new version allowed anyone to get online. People from all over the world joined online groups to talk about thousands of different subjects.
The term Internet was used for the first time in 1982. New technology had created a common language for the network computers. The Internet was now recognized as an international network. This was also at the time when privacy and security started becoming important issues. Hackers and viruses began to emerge.
In 1990, the original military network went offline, and a year later the World Wide Web was born. The World Wide Web is in fact a browser for the Internet---a kind of software program that allows users to access and navigate within information on the net. With the introduction of the World Wide Web, the development of the Internet accelerated at a rapid pace. The first computer code of the web was created in 1991 allowing programmers to combine words, pictures, and sounds on web pages. In the early nineties, the first search engine, Gopher, and the first web browser, Mosaic, were developed, allowing easier and simpler access to the Net. Traffic on the Internet started growing at an annual rate of approximately 340,000 percent.
At the end of the 1990s, Internet2 was born. Internet2 uses fiber optic cables to link together a
consortium of hundreds of high-speed networks around the world. Instead of connecting to the
Internet solely through telephone lines, people could now connect in a wide variety of ways, including
via satellite. These new methods have more data carrying capacity, or bandwidth, than telephone lines. This made the Internet faster and able to convey much more information. People could soon watch TV shows and movies online.
In the future, people will not need a computer to access the Internet. The browser will become a platform for the Web. Information will no longer need to be stored in a computer hard drive. Instead, it will be stored in places around the world. People can retrieve it through cell phones, music players, and other portable devices. This is called “cloud computing,” because it seems as if information floats down from the sky. A 2008 study said that the Internet will continue to grow. By 2020, a low-cost global network will allow people even in remote areas to have Internet access. English will remain the primary Net language, but other languages, especially Mandarin, will increase. Also, a segment of society will refuse to use the Net and live without modern technology.
1. Brainstorming:Asking the students some questions to encourage them to participate in the lesson:
1. During which decade were computers first used in homes?
2. During which decade did lots of people start using the Internet?
3. Was the original use of the Internet for business or some other purpose?
Activity Five. Fill in the blanks with the words from the list. Use each word only once.
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Although it has only a short history, the Internet has had a great impact on modern society. The concept of the Internet came from military research in the 1960s. The military wanted to 1 _________________ its research and control centers through connections to many locations by computers. As more and more people began using the system during the 1980s, privacy and security became an issue due to the threat of 2 _________________ and viruses. In the 1990s, the development of the Internet 3 _________________ rapidly thanks to the World Wide Web and the invention of the first computer 4 _________________ for web pages. Soon after, fiber optic 5 _________________ made the Internet faster and able to carry much more information. In decades to come, 6 _________________ devices will be used instead of computers to retrieve information from the Internet.
Activity Six. Here are six words that are related to the topic but are not in the reading. Fill in each blank with the best word from the list. Use each word only once.
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1. I lost all of my homework when my computer __________.
2. Do you know how to __________ this program?
3. To open the file, just __________ on its name.
4. Casey has __________ over 400 MP3 files.
5. If your computer is __________ for a few minutes, the screensaver will start.
6. The computer screen is not responding to the mouse. I think your computer is __________.
VI. Hometask: Internet and Freedom of Speech
One of the most important things that the Internet has fostered or strengthened has been freedom of speech and freedom of expression. The Internet is a very large common public area that is shared by people all around the world. Due to the diversity of the Net’s users, no one standard can be applied to govern speech on the Net. Furthermore, the Internet technology itself prevents complete blocking of access to information.
The Internet has helped to promote political freedom in many cases and allowed protesters a way to express their discontent. In 1990, the Internet allowed Chinese dissidents to bypass government censorship and inform the world Chinese community of the rebellion in Tiananmen Square and its tragic outcome. Similarly in 1991, people both in the the former Soviet Union and around the world were able to access eyewitness accounts of the attempted coup against Mikhail Gorbachev in spite of an information blackout. During Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, Internet users got up-to-date information through Internet connections with Kuwait even though radio and television broadcasts had been cut off.
In the late 1990s, many countries became alarmed at the freedom of speech accessible on the Internet and tried to restrict it. Singapore mandated that political and religious sites must register with the government. China ordered that all Internet users register with the police. And Saudi Arabia restricted Internet use to only universities and hospitals. However, due to the nature of the Internet, none of these efforts has had much lasting effect.
Discuss the following questions.
1. What do you usually use the Internet for?
2 How has the Internet changed since you first began using it?