A Brief History of Leisure and the Net
The underlying weakness of many accounts of the Net, popular or academic, is the lack of historical depth. This is not surprising: the Net demands to be understood as a brand new, world-changing, (post)modern phenomenon. Furthermore, academics in cultural studies and leisure studies often fail to be as inter-disciplinary as they should be (Spracklen, 2011a). But to explore the way in which the Net has become an everyday, ubiquitous leisure space, it is necessary to do two pieces of historical analysis: we need to understand how the Net is the latest in a long line of technologies that have changed work and leisure; and we need to understand where the Net itself came from. Despite the crazy ramblings of some inhabitants of the Net, it did not have an immaculate conception, nor did it come from outer space. This chapter, then, will set out the history and development of the internet as a leisure space. The first section will be a brief social and technological history of the Net. The second section of the chapter will explore the concept of virtuality and the Net in popular culture from the 1950s to the 1970s. The third section of the chapter will examine the growth of bulletin boards in the 1980s and the emergence of the Net as a fully established leisure space. The fourth section of the chapter will discuss the World Wide Web and its rapid adoption across rich, Westernized areas of the globe.
KeywordsWorld Wide Popular Culture Bulletin Board Communicative Rationality Home Computer
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