Reimagine the invention of the internet as the inventor. In this imaginative activity we need to forget that the internet we know today was invented by the US military. How might it have been different if someone else had invented it?
develop an understanding that technology is not neutral and that inventers/designers/producers of technology all leave their traces;
reflect on the internet as technology that has been shaped in a social system;
develop team work skills;
The Scenario: It is 1979. Email is available through networked computers, but there is no Internet as we know it today. The Berlin Wall is still standing and there are no mobile phones. You are to reimagine the invention of the Internet as the inventor. In this imaginative activity we need to forget that the Internet as we know it today was invented by the US military. So, how might it have been different if someone else had invented it?
Students pick one of the group scenarios below. Each group has a reason to invent the internet and has the required skills. A maximum of 5 students are in each group, each student taking on a different role within their group.
Assessment criteria: How convincing is your alternative internet invention scenario?
Group 1 Scenario - USSR Military research unit
A USSR military research unit exists to provide advanced technology support for national security. It is still the cold war and the USSR is deeply suspicious of the West, so the unit has been given a large budget. The research unit has rolled out networked computers to several military departments in the USSR and is interested in involving Soviet Block countries, particularly those adjoining NATO countries in Europe. Their dream is to connect all soviet aligned countries, even those far away such as Cuba.
Roles: 1 General, 1 Head of Research, 1 KGB Agent, 1 Allied Researcher, 1 Member of the Communist Party
The role of the General is to:
- Lead the group and to make sure the team is on track with task.
- Discuss and describe how your invention of the WWW came about.
- The role of the Head of Research is to:
- Discuss and describe what uses did you see for the WWW in the early days?
The role of the KGB Agent is to:
- Discuss and describe the implications and consequences if the WWW were to be free for everyone.
The role of the Allied Researcher is to:
- Discuss and describe the potential commercial applications if it were to become a commercial entity.
The role of the Member of the Communist Party is to:
- Defend the Government’s position to control the WWW.
Group 2 Scenario - An Australian Bank
An Australian bank, MATBANK, has been a pioneer in the field of network computing, after securing the services of a scientist who worked on one of the world’s first mainframe computers created by CSIRO (CSIRAC). He was looking for a job after CSIRO decided that computing was not part of its research agenda. MATBANK however, is convinced that computers could be used to link branches together and to speed up transactions across Australia where postal services can take days.
Roles: 1 Chief Executive Officer (CEO), 1 Chief Information Officer (CIO), 1 Financial Controller, 1 Lawyer (Commercial Law), 1 Demographer
The role of the CEO is to:
- Lead the group and make sure the team is on track with task.
- Discuss the invention of the WWW from the Bank’s perspective.
The role of the CIO is to:
- Discuss what uses you see for the WWW in the early days.
The role of the Financial Controller is to:
- Discuss implications and consequences if the WWW were to be free for everyone.
The role of the Economist is to:
- Discuss the potential commercial applications if the WWW were to become a commercial entity.
The role of the Lawyer is to:
- Defend the bank’s position to control the WWW