One of the reasons that crypto and onchain technologies are so exciting is because of how inevitable they feel. The internet will continue to expand and get better — and new tech (like digital ownership and decentralized platforms) will solve old tech issues (like monopolies and platform risk).

That’s why it can be easy to look past basic objections or skeptics who somehow have this idea that the status quo is the stopping point. Or that we can somehow stop growing and evolving even if we wanted to.

One of the ideas that find most exciting about where all of this crypto/onchain stuff is headed has roots in pre-internet history.

Back in the early 1960s, JCR Licklider wrote a series of memos as the head of the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). In the memos, he outlines his ideas for what would become ARPANet, which was the pre-runner of the internet.

One of the memos, from 1963, is addressed to the “Members and Affiliates of the Intergalactic Computer Network.” The address line alone is bold and audacious but also exposes a grand vision of connectedness and information sharing.

In the intro of the memo, Licklider wrote, “In the first place, it is evident that we have among us a collection of individual (personal and/or organizational) aspirations, efforts, activities, and projects. These have in common, I think, the characteristics that they are in some way connected with advancement of the art or technology of information processing, the advancement of intellectual capability (man, man-machine, or machine), and the approach to a theory of science.”

Even today, despite all of the issues that have come up with the development of the internet — or more specifically — all of the reasons to be skeptical about digital assets and decentralized computing, I think it’s refreshing to think about the broader context.

So, for today’s Members and Affiliates of the Intergalactic Computer Network, this memo is just a reminder to keep building.

The idea of the intergalactic computer network

When we get busy with the day-to-day, it can be easy to forget about the big vision for the internet, or the intergalactic computer network.