That India quote seems pretty odd, and very wrong.

I'll take the two examples he cites as evidence that India is predictable: It was colonized at the "right time," and became independent at the "right time."

The first is just wild. Cowen should know better than most that Bengal was the most sophisticated proto-industrial society on earth in 1750 aside from Britain itself and *maybe* the Low Countries. It had a developed system of finance and credit, had emerged (as Britain did) from a century or so of protracted war as the Mughal Empire collapsed as an island of stability, was effectively governed, and had a wide-ranging trade network and tradition of absorbing knowledge from a wide swathe of the world.

There was no more sophisticated society or state toppled or crippled by European colonial enterprises. Not in West Africa, not in Southeast Asia, not even in China to the extent that it was subordinated to European commercial interests. And it was conquered by a private venture operating on a financial, military, and logistic shoestring, opposed by state-backed ventures from Britain's strongest competitors.

That's not anywhere near predictable. That it seems so in hindsight is because Britain developed the playbook there and used it elsewhere, and in virtually every instance it was easier to implement elsewhere because the societies being broken were more backwards.

The second is even simpler: India was decolonized alongside most of the other colonial holdings and in the same manner *precisely* because India set the mold that was used for the next two decades by colonized peoples to pressure Britain, in the same manner as Algeria and Indochina set the mold used by colonized peoples to break France and Portugal.

Sure, India was part of a wider trend. The part that created and inspired the rest. Without India, there is no trend.

Insofar as Cowen's theory has some merit right now, it's because India's politics are pluralist and transparent, at least when compared to whatever the hell is going on in Zhongnanhai these last ten years.

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Correction: Tomlinson wrote the email program not Cerf.

AT&T and BSD was not a patent case but much more complicated and occurred in a period some call the Unix Wars.

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If you are looking for a good book about the origin of the Internet then I would recommend "Where Wizards Stay Up Late" by Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon. There you will learn about ARPA and J.C.R. Licklider along with Bolt, Beranek and Newman who built the IMPs required to establish the first TCP/IP link between UCLA and SRI (Stanford Research Institute). They also have the story of the creation of email by Vint Cerf, the killer app of the early Internet. But if you consider the World Wide Web to be the Internet then I suggest "Weaving the Web" by Tim Berner-Lee who developed HTTP to share documents at CERN. Of course there is a lot more to it than this brief outline but it is an interesting tale worth knowing.

After these books it would then be time to look at Kernighan and Ritchie who created the C programming language (think curly brackets and ending semicolons) and also a look at BSD, Berkeley Systems Design, and the convoluted history of Unix replete with patent fights and AT&T. If you go further into the rabbit hole then there you might encounter Richard Stallman and GNU along with Linus Torvald of Linux fame. Linus wrote the kernel while Richard provided the userland . It gets really complicated really fast. I have not found any good histories for these but then I have not been looking for any for more than a few years. There may be some out there but I just do not know about them.

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Not a criticism but just an observation.

Not capoot but


Words matter and words have histories, they have an etymology that shows how they evolved in both their spellings and their meanings. The orthography and meaning of words are always in a state of flux which explains why the concept of linguistic drift emerged along with dictionaries and their recording of standard meanings and pronunciations. I still have a dictionary from my father where the word computer is defined as someone who computes and not as a machine. Words are also a pet peeve of mine, my idiosyncrasy, my eccentricity. A word that is misspelled or mispronounced feels like the screech of chalk on a chalkboard and makes me cringe, and I mourn the disappearance of the use of "fewer" and its replacement with "less" in all situations. Humor me I am old.

Food for thought, even Chinese characters have an etymology as their forms and meanings have evolved from the tortoise shell to the computer screen.

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Appreciate the feedback!

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