A brief history of kittenwar

Kittenwar was not built in a day. An enormous amount of scientific and technological infrastructure had to be created first.

In the early ’60s, scientists and engineers began to build the first computer networks (necessary for one kitten’s picture to be viewed on an entirely different computer than the one it was uploaded to). The next crucial development was the “Internetwork” — a computer network that allowed different types of computer networks to connect to each other. This was indispensable, because otherwise the owners of two kittens might be on different, incompatible networks, making it impossible for the kittens to ever do battle on the same monitor. And if any two kittens could not compete, how could an overall winner ever be determined?

At the core of this internetworking technology is the counterintuitive idea of packet-switching. Instead of making a dedicated connection between your computer and kittenwar.com, the kittendata is actually broken up into lots of small pieces of data (packets), which might follow entirely different paths through the network to your computer. Think of hundreds of tiny kittens released at the start of a maze, each following different paths, but (hopefully) all reaching the same big bowl of tuna at the end.

The culmination of decades of architectural effort was the modern “seven-layer” OSI kittenwar architecture, where each successive layer builds on the abstraction of the previous one:

The physical layer
The datalink layer
The network layer
The transport layer
The session layer
The presentation layer
The kittenwar layer

This achievement is made even more remarkable when you realize that each layer must be built upon the last, and _only_ at the last layer do any cute kittens appear at all. Think of the determination and persistence it must have taken to build this from the bottom, ignoring the skeptical comments of naysayers along the way. (“Dude, like… where are the kittens? I thought there were supposed to be some kittens?”). The end product, though, silences those doubting voices. And as always happens with novel technologies, there are unexpected spinoffs — for example, the technology turns out to be applicable to cute puppies without much modification to lower layers of the architecture. And there are even glimpses of a generalized pet comparison architecture on the horizon. So think back kindly on those 1960’s taxpayers and those 1990’s venture capitalists who made it possible for you to comparatively judge extremely cute kittens drawn from all over the world, pair by pair, hour after hour, day after day, from the comfort of your own desk at work.

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