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Internet History, Technology, and Security

Coursera · University of Michigan · 2 HN points · 7 HN comments

HN Academy has aggregated all Hacker News stories and comments that mention Coursera's "Internet History, Technology, and Security" from University of Michigan.
Course Description

The impact of technology and networks on our lives, culture, and society continues to increase. The very fact that you can take this course from anywhere in the world requires a technological infrastructure that was designed, engineered, and built over the past sixty years. To function in an information-centric world, we need to understand the workings of network technology. This course will open up the Internet and show you how it was created, who created it and how it works. Along the way we will meet many of the innovators who developed the Internet and Web technologies that we use today.

What You Will Learn:

After this course you will not take the Internet and Web for granted. You will be better informed about important technological issues currently facing society. You will realize that the Internet and Web are spaces for innovation and you will get a better understanding of how you might fit into that innovation. If you get excited about the material in this course, it is a great lead-in to taking a course in Web design, Web development, programming, or even network administration. At a minimum, you will be a much wiser network citizen.

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This course is offered by University of Michigan on the Coursera platform.
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Hacker News Stories and Comments

All the comments and stories posted to Hacker News that reference this url.
I liked internet history, technology and security:

It doesn't get very deep in terms of knowledge of networks, TCP/IP stack etc, it's a very lightweight course that's easy to get through, it was my gateway MOOCs years ago, instructor is great and there's great footage from the beginnings of the internet, it feels more like an interactive documentary than an online class.

A few years ago I took this MOOC:

It was great for me because it was very light in coursework and easy, so it was a good gateway drug to MOOCs, unlike the more advanced classes which I often dropped halfway due to lack of time.

The content itself is very good, includes some old videos and interviews with some of the people who worked on internet technology in the 80s and 90s, and even does a quick explanation of some concepts of computer networks(TCP/IP, ethernet, etc).

I'm still learning so take my advice with a grain of salt. That being said, first we ought to applaud you for taking the interest in understanding what goes on behind the scenes and better communicate with the engineers.

If I may, there are three courses you could look into. I've only taken the last one, which is fantastic for people that don't have a CS background. You'll learn about data structures.

The other two I just came across them today.

Now, the intent of this is only to give you a general idea of the amount of information these people deal with. If you happen to be a P.M. and deal with clients, this will help you avoid making promises for x feature to be ready x day due to lacking an understanding of what must be done to get it working. And so forth... Once again, I'm just starting, so take my advice with a grain of salt.

Oh god, really. It's not that hard. If you're into it and enjoy learning about it, then your head just fills up. It's like moving to a new town and getting used to the place.
I agree with that - I've blown through a number of codeacademy and code school courses just because I've found it so interesting. But now I feel like I have this floating knowledge of some coding without a foundation of context to set it on. So would love to get recommendations of where to start with the real basics (like data structure etc).
Can you be a little more specific about what you're ultimately hoping to build, or learn? I'd generally agree with the commenter who suggested you pick a simple problem and then try to solve it. That's the only way to understand where these bits and pieces you've learned fit into the broader picture. I'm getting the sense that that's what you're after here, at least initially -- a general understanding/overview of how this stuff all comes together in the real world? Is that right, or no?
Ultimately, I would love if I could build a very basic prototype (of a web app) so that I can scrappily build a product to test. I recognize that that is not an easy task and would take a significant investment to get to proficiency, let alone mastery. But as someone that is analytical but not "technical", it can be exceedingly frustrating to have an idea that you want to implement and create but you don't have the know-how to do so. So I'm trying to find a way to teach myself to fish without becoming a master fisherman. And in the process I also hope that I can become a more effective entrepreneur because I will be able to communicate not only intent and design to the engineers, but appreciate the feasibility and development path.
It is quite unfortunate that I know how daunting it can be to venture into this world.

If you already have some experience (as you mentioned in another comment) in whatever language it is, stick to that language. Find a good introductory book / tutorial that explains data structures. Whichever introductory book you find (I'm biased towards books - but each person learns a different way, whatever works for you, go with that) will teach you enough to UNDERSTAND what you are coding.

You'll learn how each line relates to the other. You'll learn how to manipulate that which you are building. How one thing relates to the other within the constraints of certain laws which were created to be able to communicate with the machine.

As you progress, you'll see how other people have already done certain things so that they won't need to repeat themselves later on. These functions, whenever available, can be used by anyone.

When you learn data structures, you can grab these functions to ease your own coding. But to be able to use them, you'll need to know how to manipulate the instructions that are contained within them.

I digress. As I mentioned earlier, I'm new at this. If I'm wrong I am wrong. If I explained stuff you already know, oh well. But it does help myself get a firmer grasp of what I may or may not know.

It's hard to offer more specific direction without having at least a vague idea of what type of web app you're trying to build. If you're looking for a "read X book" or "do Y tutorial" type of answer, there simply isn't one, not for what you're trying to achieve. The answer is, learn as much as you need to in order to start building stuff, even if you don't know what the hell you're doing at first. When you get stuck, search around on StackOverflow and elsewhere; if that doesn't work, seek out help from your local Python/Ruby/whatever Meetup and try to find other people willing to teach (you seem genuinely curious and respectful so that should make things a little easier). Just remember that you're a smart person, so when (not if) you're made to feel like an idiot for not knowing some silly basic thing, don't back down. Keep searching, keep building, keep asking questions until you get there.

I'm far from an expert but I've been through this. I was in a very similar position to you less than a year ago and have since then gone from absolute zero technical knowledge to becoming a shitty-but-enthusiastic self-taught hacker. I'm happy to chat more specifically if you want to message me directly (first name: Linda; last name: last 4 letters in my HN username; email: firstlast@gmail).

Thank you for the thoughtful response - that's in fact the type of direction I was looking for - even just learning of StackOverflow has been helpful... and I may take you up on the offer to connect further.
Thanks for sharing these courses - I'll check them out. My hopes are to be a more effective marketer/product designer by understanding what it takes to bring it to life, as you mention.
Funny you say that. If you study history you will learn Mozilla org was big on pushing proprietary non standard compliant extensions. Rise of IE curbed their enthusiasm because roles have changed. I think it was in one of the interview videos at
If you mean Netscape that was a different group of people at a different time with different goals. Some of those people carried over to the Mozilla project but the goals have always been different.
It's not a book but rather a course. There is also a recommended reading list.

Aug 16, 2012 · 2 points, 0 comments · submitted by raldu
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