1.3. Technical and social architecture

Although it has already been observed that the Internet is more than a technical artifact, but also (and perhaps more importantly) a social phenomenon, the reason for the technical focus of the preceding introduction to the Internet’s early structure and protocols is that the technical and social are closely interrelated. After all, the architecture of the Internet—the physical design of the network and the manner in which communications traverse it—was shaped by the ethos of the hackers who developed it. They created an Internet that featured:

The Internet promoted these values not merely through its culture, but through its very design, which embedded engineering principles that reflected the values of its designers, who had “hardwired their way of life in the Internet architecture.”[4] This produced an innate congruence between the technical and the social architecture (or culture) of the Internet.[5]



This can also be, but is not universally, conveyed by the term “net neutrality”: Mueller, Milton, Net Neutrality as Global Principal for Internet Governance (2007).


See further Section for a disambiguation of the meaning of “free” in this context.


See http://www.toad.com/gnu.


Engel, Christoph, Governing the Egalitarian Core of the Internet (2005), 9


For a more comprehensive list of the architectural features of the Internet, see IETF, Architectural Principles of the Internet (1996).