The internet is now so much an essential part of life and commerce that access to it can be seen as “a human right”, says Culture and Heritage Minister Judith Tizard.
She made the remark on launching a book on the history of the internet in New Zealand, commissioned by InternetNZ. Called Connecting the Clouds, the book is written by former Computerworld staffer Keith Newman.
The book sets the spread of the internet in New Zealand in the context of the rise of communication technologies and the development of society and culture within New Zealand over the past century.
“I see this book as very much part of that story,” Tizard says.
The book also tells the story of internet development from the inside, drawing on interviews with a large number of seminal industry figures.
Its scope ranges from the technical — contention between early communications protocols and the difficulties of interconnecting proprietary computer equipment — to the political quarrels that accompanied the rise of the Intenet Society of New Zealand, now InternetNZ, as the caretaker of the internet’s .nz domain.
Even for someone intimately involved in some of the history, it’s only when you stop and look back on the whole sweep of its history that aspects of it begin to connect and assume shape “like a jigsaw puzzle”, Newman says.
And it’s as well that someone put the history down in book form before some of the pioneers who held it in their memories departed this life or “lost their marbles”, says InternetNZ executive director Keith Davidson.
It’s ironic that a history of the internet should appear in book form, says Tizard, but to placate the enthusiasts of digital media and ensure the story remains a living entity, the entire text is being put on the web in wiki form.
Connecting the Clouds is published by Activity Press and priced at $49.99.