Networking. A very Human story………

I never cease to be amazed at the sheer speed that the AV industry has evolved in recent years, into something barely recognisable from the industry I entered into some twenty years ago. Those were simple times, where the speakers and displays in your home were likely limited to one solitary room. Even where this were not the case, standalone systems were the norm. We didn’t share, stream or surf our way to our chosed media. It was an effort. Vinyl, cassettes, CDs and a dash of FM radio to boot. Whilst I occasionally have a moment of nostalgia, in reality the progression of our industry has been monumental, magnificent even. And of course the thing that drives it all is the very thing you are using right now to read these words. The internet of things is now driving our industry in directions we could only have dreamed of a mere two decades ago. So these days my professional and personal life are interlinked by a seemingly common factor, one inocuous word which has come to mean so much to our very species.  You will have to forgive my ramblings about a subject which I consider both fascinating, as well as essential to modern life.  Fellow humans, I give you the world of networking in all its many and varied forms…

Social networking sites allow users to share ideas, activities, events, and interests within their individual networks.

In recent years the term ‘social networking’ has become not just a part of our everyday language, it has revolutionised the very world in which we live. It has dramatically altered the way we interact with family, friends, loved ones, business associates etc. We can instantly reach out to an infinite number of people, be they in the same room or thousands of miles away. Businesses as well as individuals are now routinely communicating this way. Never has our world seemed so small, or our network of people so large. It has not always been this way of course………

Throughout the course of human history there have been countless examples of discoveries and inventions which have helped pave the way for our advancement as a species. Imagine the excitement of early man as the potential of fire was first realised. Suddenly our early ancestors had the ability to create a source of heat enabling them to cook their hard-earned food, whilst also offering protection against freezing conditions and predators alike. And of course, there was the wheel. Considered by many to be our most important invention, we were suddenly able to transport ourselves along with all our precious goods and wares over great distances. The beginning you could say of a human infrastructure. Throw in that oh so human of skills, our ability to communicate with one another through speech, and the rest as they say is history. However………

What use the wheel without roads, a network of highways linking one place to another? Every great civilization dating back to 4000BC has relied on building an infrastructure of roads to transport people and goods. By definition we must honour the first road builders as the pioneers of the first true wide area networks.

And so it naturally follows that the very concept of a network has been absolutely fundamental to the advancement of the human race. Any system of crossing and interconnecting lines, threads, trails, wires (a web you might say) that connects individual components together. Examples are everywhere and span millennia.

As recently as 1830 the first intercity railway appeared, linking the cities of Liverpool and Manchester together. By the early 1850s Britain had over 7000 miles of railway, a stunning achievement given that only twenty years had elapsed since the opening of that first line. This spurred the spread of rail transport, networks, outside the UK and suddenly our nations began to seem somehow smaller. Be it on planes, trains or automobiles we have come to accept such transportation networks as essential to our daily lives. Essential but most of us would agree perhaps not entirely interesting………

So when did the word network, such a small simple word, begin to come out of the shadows and gain world wide acceptance for being very much of interest? The answer of course lies with an invention which modern humans would consider every bit as important as the wheel; an invention which has led to a global network, a world wide web. Ok that’s all for the clues folks. Arise Sir Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the ultimate wide area network. We are talking of course about the internet.

The first web site built was at CERN, and was first put online on 6 August 1991. Info.cern.ch was the address of the worlds first-ever web site and web server, running on a NeXT computer. The first web page address was: http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html, which centred on information regarding the WWW project. Visitors could learn more about hypertext, technical details for creating their own webpage, and even an explanation on how to search the Web for information. At time of writing there are hundreds of millions of active websites, and the number is growing exponentially year on year.

And so we come full circle. Thousands of years after mankind first started planning and building the first network of roads, the entire world is now connected by highways where the traffic is very different but the principle is very much the same; to make the very world we live in ever smaller, conversely allowing each of our individual lives, our networks, to become so much larger.