Toral: Internet historians

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014


LAST Saturday, I spoke at the #PHNET20 event organized by TenMinutes.ph. The event was the launch of its Ten Minutes Talk series, inspired by TED Talks, and was done in time to celebrate the 20th year of the Internet in the Philippines. Thumbs up to the team for making that special event possible, as Cebu has an important spot in our country’s Internet history.

Since I published the Philippine Internet Review: 10 Years of Internet History (1994-2004) last 2004, people ask if I have intentions of updating it.

The first issue was a product of a lot of research, sleepless nights and friendships on the edge, among others. I learned from that project how far I was willing to sacrifice and humble myself just to get it done and overcome all the challenges after it was released.

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For now, I am still publishing content under the #phnet20 hashtag to build data. I will review from there if I will have enough notes to publish a follow-up book in the future.

But as I mentioned during the #phnet20 forum, recording Philippine Internet history is very important. It has to be done by many to ensure that an accurate account and multiple perspectives, can be documented.

When the Philippine Internet Review was being worked on, I deliberately got two writers to focus on the timeline while I focused on the available stats and resource person interviews.

I made sure that efforts to push for e-commerce in the country was captured, as they were not mentioned in earlier attempts in documenting Philippine Internet history.

Sometimes though, resource persons you want to tap would either not cooperate or are simply not available. When your end product comes out, peers ask questions and it will be awkward to say that a much more accurate account of what happened would have been possible had a resource person granted an interview.

And that is where the danger lies. I got reminded of a TED video about the “danger of a single story”. That if a story gets told over and over again, unchallenged, it will become the ultimate story.

We need more Internet historians who will document developments in our industry and make them available to people who want to learn about it. Let the new generation of researchers dissect and analyze the account of what happened.

I hope that when #phnet25 or #phnet30 happens, we will have more historians coming from digital natives giving their understanding and perspective of our Internet history.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 02, 2014.

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