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tv   The Communicators Brian Mc Cullough  CSPAN  June 1, 2019 6:30pm-7:02pm EDT

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[captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] announcer 1: you can watch all of the presidents press conferences by going to our website,, and typing can in the search bar. tiananmen in the search bar. >> brian mccullough is our guest. his book is called how the internet happened, from netscape to the iphone.
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you talk about a gentleman in this book, who was it? fathersally one of the or godfathers of the internet, which was the arpanet at the time. he was one of the people in the government that put the arpanet together. also, he was mainly a philosopher of technology and how it would be used as computers evolved. i make the point in the book that ever since computers were invented, people thought these are machines that will think for us, and while that still may happen sometime in the future, he felt that there would be this period where humans and machines would exist in a symbiotic way. he called that theory the man machine symbiosis. >> what was his position at the time that he was thinking these
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things? at don't remember the exact position, but he was involved in darpa and the programs being developed at the time for arpanet, which were the original for nodes of computers connected together in 1969. almost exactly 50 years ago now. that became what we now know as the internet over 30 or so years of developing. >> you refer to him as one of the godfathers of the internet. who is tim berners-lee? >> tim berners-lee is the inventor of the world wide web. of it, theot aware world wide web is technically not the internet. it is a layer on top of the internet that creates webpages and allows for pictures and videos and all of the fun things we think of when we think of using the internet. tim berners-lee invented the world wide web almost exactly 30 years ago and that was a thing
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that allowed the internet to eventually go mainstream. so years between the development of arpanet and the development of the world wide web, the internet was mainly used by academics and government types. it was never intended for use by common people like us. web, even though it was also developed as a tool for academia, because it had this graphical element and because it was simpler than other internet protocols, essentially everyday people andted the web on their own started to use it outside of the ivory towers of academia and the government. is -- i makee web the analogy that the world wide web to the internet is like the graphical user internet was to computing. >> we'll get into some of those adapters in just a minute.
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when the internet and the world wide web were being developed, was this being done in a vacuum or was there a lot of coordination? >> there was a lot of collaboration. was a coordinated? no. there was no one in charge of it. it was nominally owned and operated by the government, but there was no master plan. when things like email or ftp, which is the file transfer protocol -- these were developed by committees, but also developed by the academics and the people in government using the internet. as i say, there was no master plan for the first 30 years of the internet and certainly no one asked for the world wide web to be layered on top of it. people just did it and that was the fun part of the internet in its early few decades. >> is that why it has been so
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successful? >> i think you can make the argument that that is the greatest feature of the internet, that no one really owns it or controls it, and also popular -- also possibly its biggest bug, because we deal with all sorts of privacy concerns and hacking and data loss. had someone -- have there been a master plan for developing the internet, i think it would have been developed a lot more securely and less ad hoc, as it were. a 30-40re writing about year history, correct? >> well, the book mostly focuses on the last 25 years, because, while other -- the book is not the entire history of the internet. of howainly the history the internet went mainstream. how the internet entered all of our lives. it is the story of products and
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companies that we would all be familiar with, from aol to napster to facebook to the iphone. all of the things that have come over the last 25 years to have made the modern reality where -- the internet and reality he has infiltrated every crevice of modern life. the book tells that story. those of us who have grown up in this era remember the name netscape. what was it? >> netscape was one of the early web browsers. when the world wide web comes along, tim berners-lee wants it to become popular and he says to weble, code up your own browser. this is the tool that will allow you to go and browse the web. before netscape, there was a bunch of students at the university of illinois who coded their own browser they called mosaic. famously --most
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that was again, an academic project, so than the students were later recruited by an entrepreneur to move out to silicon valley to do the was a again, but better. and this time, do it in aid of creating a for-profit company. the company was netscape and the browser that they created was netscape navigator. >> how long did it last? is it still around today? >> mark is still around. i start with netscape because it was the company that i call the company. really the first -- the first do t com company. ipo in the fall of 1995 that i call the big bang of the internet era. in just 18 months of being a company, with nothing in the way of profits and very little thatue, they have an ipo
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values netscape at a must billion dollars. today, we are used to internet companies going public all the time and having hundred billion dollar valuations, but that had never happened before. there were a lot of ways that the netscape ipo gave the signal to wall street, to silicon valley, to main street that there was a technology revolution, a new gold rush. netscape went public in 1995. they were successful for several years, then they started to get the attention of microsoft. recall,t, if you will competed very aggressively with netscape. there was eventually the u.s. government sued microsoft on antitrust grounds because of the aggressive way that it competed with netscape. sorosoft lost that case, netscape sort of one, but it did not save them, because
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microsoft's predations had so killed the business model that by 1998, netscape was bought by aol and subsumed into a well. by the year 2000, netscape navigator had such a miniscule share of the browser market that it ceased to be a meaningful player at all. days?t is markup to these >> he went on to found other companies in the early 2000's. these days, he is best known as perhaps the best-known venture capitalist in silicon valley. his firm is one of the largest venture capital firms operating in the tech space. any number ofd in high-profile companies that you would know of. he is on facebook's board of directors. they have invested in everything from corn base to -- name a star up. towhat did netscape bring
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what we use today? what was its addition? primarily, it was the vehicle for getting us, everyday americans especially, onto the internet for the first time. i say in the book that it was a sort of chicken and eight situation. the web was beginning to take off before netscape released its navigator web browser, but by netscape's web browser being so easy, by a being available on windows for normal computer users, a lot of computer users' first experience with the web came through netscape navigator. when they see the web for the first time on netscape cap navigator, they want to create websites and browse more, and that creates the chicken and aches situation, where, was an escape that about the web to go mainstream or vice versa?
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soy both fed on each other, aside from setting the template for the sort of technology-based startups that we are familiar with today, there are now seven of the top 10 most viable companies in the world, for example, not only did netscape set that template, but it was the vehicle for getting normal, everyday, non-technically proficient people onto the internet and the web for the first time. >> why did internet explorer rule? >> baguettes -- >> did netscape >> that gets -- if netscape was so -- he said microsoft never has to make a dime on web browsers. microsoft came to the web a bit late.
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when bill gates famously got religion about the internet, he assigned huge numbers of resources. while netscape is comparatively a small startup with a couple hundred employees, immediately when microsoft decides it's going to do a web browser, they are assigning thousands of employees and developers to create this browser. they give it away for free. it is true that for the first several versions, netscape remained the more capable and better product, but by versions three and four of internet explorer, there was feature parity, and because microsoft was giving away for free with every copies of windows 95, basically, microsoft was able to leverage its incredible market power to take over the market and crush netscape. these talk about companies in your book, but where are they today, and what did they bring to the table?
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compuserve, prodigy, all familiar names. >> some are no longer with us, for example, aol and compuserve. those were the training wheels for the internet. the internet is all around us today. if you're old enough to remember the sound of a dial-up modem literally dialing into get you companies were the pipes that got us onto the internet for the first time. out the companies that came in the wake of the netscape ipo are companies that you might still be familiar with today. i am thinking of companies like yahoo!, whichay, is sort of still with us, but not as prominent anymore. ipo,e wake of the netscape there was this four or five year
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period that could look really recalled the -- that colloquially we called the dot com era. there was a flood of companies and it was a wonderful era, because nobody knew what was going to work, so there was a lot of throwing things against the wall and finding out what stock. a lot of those companies did not era butthe dot com companies like amazon, ebay, and google survived and are continuing to thrive today. >> a couple quotes from your book -- i do wells never got much respect from true techies in silicon valley. >> that is true. it is perfectly -- partially geographical. was not in silicon valley, so culturally, it did not feel
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akin to the tech startups. aol made the decision that we will be the mainstream venue for normal people to get on the internet, and so, while other companies were more focused on the hard-core techies that flooded onto the internet, aol catered to joe and jane sixpack, catered to grandma getting online and discovering that you can in no pictures of your grandkids back and forth. aol was called the training wheels of the internet, but they embraced that. that was a necessary thing. aol taught a lot of americans what it was like to live online for the first time. to have a screen name. find theine and communities that you feel a part of, that you can fit into. someone had to be the first, and
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focused ony smartly being a comfortable and not very tech sophisticated way to get people onto the internet and to learn how to live online. when larry and sergey first met, they did not like each other much. >> they are larry page and surrogate rain, the founders of google. sergey brin, the founders of google. they get the best engineers into a rolled and they think there is no problem they can't solve. that culture began with larry who always think they are the smartest people in the room and so when they first got into the same room, there was a bit of friction between sort oft there was also
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a spark between them. the intellectual competitiveness always sortteamwork of succeeded. the culture of intellectual competitiveness is still alive inside of google to this day. >> who saw their vision and funded them? some very smart venture capitalists and angel investors. actually, jeff bezos was one of the early angel investors in amazon. essentially, what they did was solved search for the first time. when google is formed as a company, these are also names you may or may not remember, there were dozens of search engines. altavista, no one thought
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there needed to be another search engine, but what people didn't realize is that the search engine at that time did not work very well. if you wanted to search for windsurfing in california, they could find those pages, but maybe not find the pages you wanted at the top of the list. they solved the problem of search by introducing the concept of relevancy. any database can find all of the data in the world and organizing, but google's algorithm did that one extra trick that was necessary, which was to sort the pages by relevancy. what is the most relevant webpage or answer or result for whatever the given query is? even though nobody thought that there needed to be another search engine, it turned out that google was the search engine that made all other search engines look obsolete. >> maybe they were the smartest guys in the room. is that fair to say? >> certainly.
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there the fifth or sixth largest market cap company in the world now. i can't imagine the internet functioning today at the scale that it is at, had that problem not been solved. thing,s also a funny googles one miracle is that they solved search, but the second is that they created perhaps the greatest advertising engine, the greatest money generating machine yet devised by mankind. that was adding ads to the search results. originally, those little text boxes alongside the search results, now peppered into the search results. a lot more aggressive these days. that you could advertise to people at the point of intention. if i do a search for hotels in marietta, georgia, there is a high likelihood that might be
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troubling to marietta, georgia and my need a hotel, a rental car. the second miracle google created was what is called search based advertising, keyword-based advertising, which is advertising at the point of intention. i am looking to find something, to have a problem solved, and perhaps these ads will provide the solution. >> how important was steve jobs to the creation of what we live in today, but also, how important was his remark that people don't know what they want until we get it -- give it to them? book,the context of the and i point this out, apple and steve jobs play a most no part in the first three fourths of stillcause, as apple is the second largest company in the world at this point, at the tail end of the 90's, in the dot apple was a company
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that was in trouble. it was on the verge of bankruptcy, and apple at the time on the computers, had a small market share. book,e first half of the apple most plays no role in the web and the internet. it is not until the turn of the century that apple moves away from computers -- not moves away from computers, but creates computers in different form factors. i am thinking specifically of the ipod and the first gadgets. apple was the first company in the modern era to get a sense that computers were not just rocks is that sat on your desk. they could be devices that he would put in your pocket and carry around with you into the real world. to get to that, -- to that steve jobs quote, i can remember as late as 2004, people getting the internet on their phones and saying, why would i ever knew that?
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if i want to get on the web, i will sit down to my computer and do web stuff. he intuited, and the smart people intuited that computing is something that can be done anywhere and computers are not just boxes on desks. a computer can be a device that you put in anything. now, we are putting them in cars. they saw that before most people even thought that was necessary. >> what i learned from your book was the first smart was ibm back in the 90's. >> is debatable what you would call the first smartphone. was a whole category of devices you might recall. you mentioned palm, apples newton. calledre what they personal digital assistants. these were pocket devices -- being generous, because the ibm smartphone that you are referring to was a brick. it was several pounds.
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i am not sure what pocket you would be able to put it in. towas the first attempt bring computing to a mobile device, to a handheld device. author of the book, there are stories of ideas and companies and concepts that people have, but it is just too soon. the infrastructure is not there. as i was saying, the market is not there, because people don't realize they knew this in their lives yet. as early as 1993, 19 94, you have the ibm simon, you have things like the apple newton, the attempted to create world of mobile computing and smartphones that we have today. it was too soon, because you did not have data networks. you did not have things like wi-fi that didn't become ubiquitous until the early 2000's.
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you didn't have things like the batteries that power our phones now, you didn't have touchscreen devices. to see theseting ideas that are manifest today, that people tried to make happen so many times, but it was just too soon. , bill larry and sergey gates and mark zuckerberg, jeff bezos, are these the edison's and henry ford's of today for us? >> in a way, certainly. what i wanted to do in this book was, i feel like technology sort of washes over us in one unending wave after another. what is this platform, should i be on it? speakers --e smart should i have smart speakers? it does feel like there are these wizards creating these new devices and technologies. they seem magical and seem
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created by wizards, but i wanted to demystify that and tell the actual story of these technologies being developed. law it has been feeling around in the dark. entrepreneurs feeling around and trying to see if there was product market fit for it. if there was an actual market for these ideas. work doe ideas that seem to be magical and do seem to be transformative and disruptive, i thought it was worth going back and looking at thea to b to c that got us to also lookinga, but at the things that failed, the decisions that seemed like good ideas but never took off. industry is always about the next new thing, and i think there is a danger there
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that you forget a lot of the lessons that got us there. that is what i wanted this book to be. here is how the internet happens to us. here are the people that did it to us. here is why they did it. here are the decisions and the mistakes they made that got us to the modern day. >> you could argue that the last 30 years has been a relatively peaceful revolution. >> it has been a mostly positive revolution so far. obviously, especially in the last 18 months, there has been a lot of concern that perhaps a lot of these technologies and a lot of this disruption is being disruptive in the negative sense of that word. large, thet, by and transformations that technology and the internet and the web have brought in all of our lives have been net positive and have made society more productive.
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.ertainly, connected all of us we live in a world where it is impossible not to know anything. information is at our fingertips at any moment, and so that is positive. i also think that these are still young technologies. the history is still being written about them, and as a society, we are still adapting to them. we talked about, with aol, people learning to live online. i think we're still learning to live with this technology, and that is a process that is ongoing and will take time before it all settles down to homeostasis. theack to your book, bursting of the dot com bubble was the opening act of our current economic era and the repercussions from the bubble's aftermath are still with us
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today, economically, socially, and politically. the dot com bubble a lot. i think it tells us a lot how the tech economy functions, but also, i wanted to make the point to normal non-tech people, to mainstream people, the tech whene and the late 1990's, everybody was investing in tech stocks for the first time, and there is a statistic in the book that the majority of people got -- started investing in the stock market in the first time in the late 1990's. these were the baby boomers that were beginning to save for retirement, opening 401(k)s. that bubble bursting, we have had several subsequent bubbles worst, including most famously, the housing bubble. live in apt that we bubble economy, that seemingly, we lurch from one to the next to
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i think that that pattern. set with bubble, and with its bursting and its aftermath, because things like occupy wall street -- the idea that, maybe the game is able of it rigged against the common guide, against the little guy, there were lots of people that got filthy rich before it all burst and there were a lot of people left holding the bag who saw their 401(k) riches until down by 90% in the worst cases. to take a good look at that, because again, what we learned and what we went through com bubble sets the playbook for a lot of the economic and social things that we are still living with today. is the hostullough of the internet history podcast. he is the author of this book,
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"how the internet happened." thank you for being with us. >> thank you so much. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] >> for 40 years, c-span has been providing america unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court, and public policy events from washington, d.c., and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your local cable or satellite provider. c-span, your unflustered -- unfiltered view of government. >> c-span's "washington journal," live every day with policy news and issues that impact you. sunday morning, george --hington university
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