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HIST1900C The History of the Internet

HIST1900C, Winter 2023, Carleton University

Taught by Shawn Graham M, W @ 1.05 pm - 2.25 pm, in LA C164.

The Big Idea

The ‘history of the internet’ is more than the history of a particular package of technologies. It’s a story about power, people, culture, and materials. The ‘internet’ isn’t a thing, it’s a place and since time and space are unified, it’s an age. What is an appropriate frame to study the internet, and once we’ve decided on that, what might we see? I’m not sure where this will take us – but wherever we go, the journey will change how you think about the world. My background is in archaeology: this will be a self-consciously archaeological investigation

HIST1900c is a hands-on lecture based class. By ‘hands on’ I mean you will in fact build things in this class. I will lecture to set the scene. What happens next is up to you.

Do I have to be techy to get anything out of this course?

In a word, no! You do have to be willing to be comfortable with experimentation, with things that break, and with asking for help from your peers or from the prof. You will develop some familiarity with a variety of techs, including the Obsidian integrated thinking environment, and the Github code sharing website.

Academic Goals

My goals for you are that you will develop

  • Familiarity with some different frameworks for studying this history
  • Contextualized understanding of technical/scientific advances in their cultural milieu
  • Ways of studying this material that take advantages of the affordances of networked ways-of-thinking
  • Facility with personal knowledge management approaches

Get Started

Before class begins in January, please complete the tutorial level (5% of your grade). The tutorial will walk you through setting up your Github account, and installing (and using) Obsidian on your machine. Then, you can try to 2.Set Up Your Online Memex using Obsidian and Github in tandem.

Make sure you read through and understand these materials:




Photo by Elly Filho,

Site is built using mkdocs.

The ARPAnet in 1970 via The datasets can be opened with graph-tool. Or make and interrogate your own from the same data.