Imaginaries, Values, and Trajectories

A Critical Reflection on the Internet

Authored by: Robin Mansell

The Routledge Companion to Global Internet Histories

Print publication date:  February  2017
Online publication date:  February  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138812161
eBook ISBN: 9781315748962
Adobe ISBN: 9781317607656


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The history of the Internet is in urgent need of critical reflection. Most historical accounts suggest that there has been, and will continue to be, a relatively homogeneous trajectory of innovation. Examples are the widely cited accounts provided by Abbate 2000; Flichy 2007; Katz et al. 2001; Leiner et al. 1997; Leiner et al. 1998; and Murphy 2002. These neglect the heterogeneity of choices taken by decision makers around the world. It is these choices which have shaped what the Internet is, notwithstanding a common set of technical protocols. Some scholars have examined the “localization” of the Internet (Figueroa and Hugo 2007; Miller and Slater 2000; Postill 2011), but their accounts tend to focus on user appropriation of the Internet, and less so on its development. John Postill notes that many analysts regard the “rest of the world”, beyond the United States, simply as being impacted by “the Internet”.

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