ASIS&T 2014 Annual Meeting 
Seattle, WA | October 31 - November 5, 2014

Metadata and Infrastructure in Internet History: Sockets in the Arpanet Host-Host Protocol

Bradley Fidler1, Amelia Acker2
1University of California, Los Angeles; 2University of Pittsburgh, United States of America

Sunday, Nov. 2, 3:30pm


In this paper we describe the generation and utilization of metadata as part of normal network function on the early Arpanet. By using the Arpanet Host-Host Protocol and its sockets as an entry point for studying the generation of metadata, we show that the development and function of key Arpanet infrastructure cannot be studied without examining the creation and stabilization of metadata standards. More specifically, we use the Host-Host Protocolís sockets as an example of something that, at the level of the network, functions as both network infrastructure and metadata. By presenting the function of sockets in tandem with an overview of the Host-Host Protocol and a key application built atop it, Telnet, we illustrate the necessity of studying infrastructure and metadata in tandem. Finally, we draw on Esveld (1990) to reintroduce the concept of infradata to refer specifically to data that locates data throughout an infrastructure, separating it from established standards, and encourage its future application and study in histories and political economies of networks.