Goals of the Project

What is it?

The Internet History Initiative explores decentralized, community-driven approaches to the preservation, curation, and analysis of Internet History: the accumulated corpus of historical network measurements from many sources that document the day-to-day evolution of today’s global Internet over many decades.

Internet History at this level is not about Web content in particular; it’s about the history of the infrastructure that supports all Internet applications, starting with fundamental infrastructure (BGP routing, DNS, traceroute measurement) and ascending over time to capture the emergence of the Internet’s overlay networks (CDNs, P2P content, privacy-protecting services, federated social media).

Why do we need it?

The Internet underpins much of modern civilization, yet researchers from beyond the Internet’s core technical community have never had good access to well-interpreted data about the evolution of the regional and global Internet over time. If we can put quantitative tools and timeseries into the hands of the relevant researchers who study (for example) violence, employment, public health, and political science, we can help tackle bigger research questions collaboratively.

What are the goals?

There are multiple levels to the Internet History challenge:

  • Preservation of data sources that may only be hosted by a single institution
  • Curating datasets that describe not only the past structure of the Internet, but the kinds of functions that Internet hosts were providing at the time
  • Extending recorded history with interpretative derived data sets that are useful to researchers beyond the Internet technical community
  • Building tools and visualizations that provide interpretation of Internet history for nontechnical audiences

Where should I go next?

  • Sign up: Let us know of your interest in Internet History
  • Follow IHI: Connect to the initiative on Mastodon
  • Read More: Peruse the blogs that set this initiative in motion