This is the project site for the Cultural History of the Internet course at Johns Hopkins University.

A collective project, it takes a critical approach to internet history, considering a wide spectrum of cultural practices involved in web services and apps, while exploring questions of access and algorithmic bias. It takes an interest in not only the common narratives of innovation, extending from the military infrastructure of ARPANET to the nineties dot-com boom to the emerging internet of things, but also the host of dead ends and lost sites, net ephemera, and once thriving web cultures that risk being forgotten.

The course’s guiding framework is the circuit of culture approach developed by du Gay et al. (1997), which emphasizes the role of meaning in the creation of cultural commodities and outlines five interconnected areas for analyzing any cultural object: “how it is represented, what social identities are associated with it, how it is produced and consumed, and what mechanisms regulate its distribution and use” (3). Significantly, it is an approach that developed in the same cultural moment as the internet was coming into everyday life and might itself be seen as an artifact of that moment.

Taught by Kyle Stine.

Identity: The Untold Impact of Bulletin Board Systems in the Middle East

Preceding the World Wide Web and its evolution of the internet into what it is today,  people built virtual worlds and communities on their computers via bulletin board systems (BBSs). BBSs were run over telephone lines, so users accessed them by dialing up their intended BBS, incurring telephone service charges as a result. Because long-distance telephone

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BBS Computer

Identity: The 90’s Zoom Room

Today, most of all communication between friends, family, and peers is taken for granted. We can easily send emails and text messages back and forth with others for hours on end. In the early 1980s into the 1990s, a computerized bulletin board system (BBS) was created to send messages to other users and create social

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Identity: The Sybercom Bulletin Board System

Personally, I use the internet so often that it is almost considered a necessity for me, especially in terms of communication. Even though many of my friends could be reached through in-person talking, the internet has made communication much easier. However, the internet we know today is so much different compared to about 30 years

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