[Coral-List] Internet, terminology, facts; was Re: city analogy for coral reefs

David M. Lawrence dave at fuzzo.com
Sun Nov 29 10:39:37 EST 2009

This "invented the Internet" joke has gotten way too much mileage.  I'd 
like to correct the record.  One one hand, it would seem best to led bad 
jokes and urban legends die of their own accord.  Unfortunately, reason 
and historical documentation have not been able to correct the 
collective embrace of fiction as fact.  Given that the potentially 
devastating effect of this bit of disinformation on the history of the 
early 21st century, I generally feel compelled to speak up every time 
someone brings it up.

Gore never claimed to "invent" the Internet, at least not in terms of 
devising communications protocols, hardware, etc.  A strong case can be 
made that he coined the term, "Internet."  For anyone interested in 
facts -- published research by John Pavlik, a journalism professor now 
at Rutgers, who focuses on the "New Media," -- indicates that Gore used 
the term during hearings in the 1980s that ultimately led to the High 
Performance Computing and Communication Act of 1991, otherwise known as 
the Gore Bill.

Gore did a lot more than merely add to our vocabulary.  The Gore Bill 
helped establish the infrastructure that we take for granted today. 
According to Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf -- the guys who did a lot of 
the background protocol research and design that made the Internet as we 
know it possible:

"Al Gore was the first political leader to recognize the importance of 
the Internet and to promote and support its development.

"No one person or even small group of persons exclusively 'invented' the 
Internet. It is the result of many years of ongoing collaboration among 
people in government and the university community.  But as the two 
people who designed the basic architecture and the core protocols that 
make the Internet work, we would like to acknowledge VP Gore's 
contributions as a Congressman, Senator and as Vice President.  No other 
elected official, to our knowledge, has made a greater contribution over 
a longer period of time.

"Last year the Vice President made a straightforward statement on his 
role. He said: 'During my service in the United States Congress I took 
the initiative in creating the Internet.'  We don't think, as some 
people have argued, that Gore intended to claim he 'invented' the 
Internet. Moreover, there is no question in our minds that while serving 
as Senator, Gore's initiatives had a significant and beneficial effect 
on the still-evolving Internet. The fact of the matter is that Gore was 
talking about and promoting the Internet long before most people were 
listening. ..."


So please, whether talking about Al Gore, expanding lexicography, 
rewriting constitutions, etc., let's please try to make sure we get our 
facts straight.  Honest mistakes are understood and accepted, but 
careless mistakes or willful misstatements do little to advance our 
understanding of anything.


Les Kaufman wrote:
> Oh, by the way, I also invented the Internet.

  David M. Lawrence        | Home:  (804) 559-9786
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