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Key Internet Features

Western Civilization has had a centuries' long romance with technology and has often worshipped it as the "savior of mankind". Alternately, anti-utopians, ever since Shelly conjured up Frankenstein, have depicted it as the destroyer of humankind and human values.

Technology is power and, as such, can serve many purposes. Whereas an earlier vision of the computer predicted an Orwellian "big brother" utilizing a centralized computer system to control society, the advent of the personal computer has turned this power pyramid on its head.

Increasing thousands of people have a computer on their desk with as much capability at their fingertips as once was housed in an expensive and complicated mainframe. Obviously, the decentralization of power is no guarantee that the people will make good or wise use of it.

- Norman Coombs, Liberation Technology, 1992.

Each of the Internet application chapters includes a section on key features. This section describes the key features of the underlying Internet itself.

The Internet is unlike any previous human invention in both scale and effect, and is now a global resource important to all of the people in the world. How did it become so important, so fast? This unprecedentedly rapid growth and impact is largely due to its incorporation of a number of deeply powerful features that continue to accelerate its success, described in the following sections.

Resources. On a related note, the following references provide information about the Internet's increasingly important role in emergency preparedness:

  • RFC 3523; J. Polk; Internet Emergency Preparedness (IEPREP)
    Telephony Topology Terminology
    ; April 2003.
  • RFC 3689; K. Carlberg, R. Atkinson; General Requirements for Emergency Telecommunication Service (ETS); February 2004.
  • RFC 3690; K. Carlberg, R. Atkinson; IP Telephony Requirements for Emergency Telecommunication Service (ETS); February 2004.