What is KCIS?

KCIS is a space for insight and analysis of network evolution.  Our center brings together scholars from the humanities, social sciences, and engineering to explore and advance the newly emerging field of internet studies.  It is the result of strong cooperation between the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Division of Humanities and of Social Sciences at UCLA, and our philanthropic partners. The center’s mission is to understand the social, localized, and material history of the internet and to communicate these findings to a broad public.  In addition, the center maintains an exhibit space located at the physical site of the first node of the ARPANET, an early foundation for the modern Internet.

An ARPANET Anniversary

Today is the 45th anniversary of the first host-to-host (computer to computer) connection over the ARPANET, which occurred on October 29, 1969 between UCLA and the Stanford Research Institute.  By the time the network was decommissioned in 1989-90, it had served as an inspiration and testbed for Internet technologies, demonstrated the validity of the packet switching technology that underlies the modern Internet and, beginning in 1983, was a central part of the modern Internet itself.  Cheers!

Dave Stearns on Visions of the Cashless Society

David Stearns, a professor in the Information School at the University of Washington, is a software developer who went back to graduate school to become a historian of technology. His research has focused specifically on the history of VISA. At Digital Cash he presented on the rhetoric of the cashless society, a phenomenon that has always been described as inevitable, looming, just around the corner. But where did this phrase come from? How did it work as a resource for actors at the time, and why haven’t we achieved it? As a negative statement or vision, the phrase says what the future will not contain. Stearns offers some ideas of why we’re not yet there. Stearns showed an n-gram view of word usage of “checkless society” versus “cashless society” in sources indexed by Google. “Cashless” postdates “checkless” society, as the latter concept lost popularity over the years when banks realized they wanted to eliminate paper for electronics. This was a two-step process. First, in late 50s and early 60s, banks deployed the rhetoric of a looming crisis in check processing. As the Federal Reserve began processing more checks each year, people feared that the means of routing and sorting checks[…]