Information superhighway

Information superhighway

The information superhighway was a popular term used through the 1990s to refer to digital communication systems. It is associated with Al Gore.

Definitions

There are a number of definitions of this term. Wired Style: Principles of English Usage in the Digital Age defines the term as "the whole digital enchilada - interactive, cable, broadband, 500-channel [...] blame the cliche on then-Senator Al Gore Jr. who introduced it at a 1978 meeting of computer industry folk, in homage to his father , Senator Albert Gore Sr" (71).

The McGraw-Hill Computer Desktop Encyclopedia defines the term as, "a proposed high-speed communications system that was touted by the Clinton/Gore administration to enhance education in America in the 21st Century. Its purpose was to help all citizens regardless of their income level. The Internet was originally cited as a model for this superhighway; however, with the explosion of the World Wide Web, the Internet became the information superhighway" (464).

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines the term as "a route or network for the high-speed transfer of information; esp. (a) a proposed national fiber-optic network in the United States; (b) the Internet." The OED also cites usage of this term in three periodicals:

  • the January 3, 1983 issue of Newsweek: "...information superhighways being built of fiber-optic cable will link Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D. C. in a 776-mile system on the East Coast."
  • the December 19, 1991 issue of the Christian Science Monitor: "Senator Gore calls NREN the "information superhighway" - a catalyst for what he hopes will become one day a national fiber-optic network."
  • the October 26, 1993 issue of the New York Times: "One of the technologies Vice President Al Gore is pushing is the information superhighway, which will link everyone at home or office to everything else—movies and television shows, shopping services, electronic mail and huge collections of data."

Other uses

Nam June Paik, a 20th century South Korean born American video artist, claims to have coined the term in 1974. “I used the term (information superhighway) in a study I wrote for the Rockefeller Foundation in 1974. I thought: if you create a highway, then people are going to invent cars. That's dialectics. If you create electronic highways, something has to happen.”

See also

References

  • Freedman, Alan. McGraw Hill Computer Desktop Encyclopedia. New York: McGraw Hill, 2001.
  • Hale, Constance and the editors of Wired. Wired Style: Principles of English Usage in the Digital Age. San Francisco: Hardwired, 1996.

Further reading

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