Somewhere back in the late 1900s, when I was still an active member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, I attended a convention in Portland, Oregon.
It was during that meeting that we all listened to a representative from the telephone company who told us all about a new enterprise that was going to make a huge impact on the world.
It was the World Wide Web.
I remember quite vividly that the general consensus of opinion by members of that august group following the program that the “www” was a bad idea.
That particular collection of writers has always been fairly iconoclastic. A collection of individual spirits. The very first time I met some of the members I knew I had found my real family. I don’t go to meetings anymore, but I read their newsletter religiously until I lost it off my computer in the great hack and the need to get a new identity.
Among the other things, this woman from AT&T told us was that it was going to be the “information superhighway.”
And one by one, dissenters said that the real superhighways, which had crisscrossed the country with larger and larger bands of concrete, were what was ruining the country.
And a lot of what they predicted came true, I think.
We could all certainly live without Twitter.
But I have to confess this weekly contribution would certainly not exist without the internet. I type it on a computer and email it across the causeway to that great island institution.
And a lot of what goes into the making of this column is located in interesting places like Wikipedia. Where would I be without Google? Not much of anywhere.
Since I was curious about how some of these parts of the www got their start, and especially how they got their names, I went to my old friend Google and asked.
Why is a mouse a mouse?
The guy who invented it named it “X-Y Position Indicator for a Display System.” The first users didn’t like that and started calling it “turtle.” That eventually became “rodent,” which eventually became the cuter sounding “mouse.” That was just right for its shape and size.
The word “byte” was first used by Claude E. Shannon in a 1948 paper “A Mathematical Theory of Communication.”
Apache was chosen in respect for the Native American tribe. It began a series of patches to a code.
Google was born as a brag about how much information it could search. A googol is a number which represents a 1 followed by 100 zeroes.
There’s lots, lots more. Maybe later.