Download, the True Story of the Internet was a series made for the Discovery Channel in 2009, and so it quite out of date, but for anyone wanting to know how they internet got started, and how it developed, it is quite essential watching, despite the goofy presentation by John Heilemann.
The last episode in this series looks at the rise of file sharing and social media. It starts with the invention of a very small sized media file: the mp3. This was small enough it could be shared even on the low bandwidth devices that were available in the late 90s. And this gave rise to Napster, a P2P file sharing website, and the first of its kind. The story of how it grew and how it was taken down by vested interests is a sorry tale indeed.
Unfortunately the programme overlooks what is surely a more important and certainly more enduring platform, the torrent sites: but that story is told elsewhere on this site. See Steal this Film.
We then see the rise of people-powered sites like Digg, YouTube and Wikipedia, and eventually the emergence of social media sites like MySpace and Facebook. Again it is a fascinating story for those who don’t know – or who didn’t live through – the evolution of the internet. As John Heilemann witnesses the new Web 2.00 technologies seemed to deliver what the founders had in mind: a people centered, two-way, interface on the world. How much that has changed in the last 10 years with the rise of the FAANG companies to world domination is another story.
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