Barack Obama, Al Gore and the Origins of the Internet

This morning Mirasol pointed out on our team mailing list that Al Gore had thrown his support behind Barack Obama. Like Mirasol, I too received Al’s message in my in box this morning, and the image included in that message looked a little strange.
(I was struck by the combination of the signs saying “Change We Can Believe In” and Gore’s message about Climate Change, is “Climate Change, the Change We Can Believe In?”) Someone suggested that Gore looked like a new age preacher. Check out Joel Osteen’s book cover You have to admit there is something about the blue background, the dark suit, the aura around the face… Anyway, I digress.

One last comment pushed one of Fen’s buttons… “Hey! He invented the internet!”

This is actually a slight peeve of mine, as Al did play a major part in the Internet’s birth. Here’s a note to set things straight from two good fellows that were there. (For those who don’t recognize the names, Vint Cerf created the IP protocol and Bob Kahn created the TCP protocol, cornerstones of all things Internet.)

The article that Fen references is good. It is a clear explanation of Gore’s record on supporting the growth and development of the internet for something like 15 or 20 years. It is kind of sad to read it and remember back in 2000 when Gore was being mocked for his casual mis-speaking (not like he claimed on multiple occasions to be ducking sniper fire…) Al Gore, wooden as he may be, was pretty visionary. And if only that vision had been what garnered new coverage, rather than his choice of words…. well, we’d all be living in a different world right now.

Bevan chimed in from tomorrow (he is in NZ and far ahead of us):

A few weeks ago I went to a talk by Brian Carpenter at University
sponsored by the IET on “The Internet: Where did it come from, why did it succeed and where is it going?”. Brian Carpenter’s opinions are IMO noteworthy, since he worked alongside Tim Berners-Lee at CERN around 1989-1990, the individual, organization and time most-often credited for the ‘creation’ of the WWW. Dr Brian Carpenter chaired the IETF.

Dr Carpenter made it quite clear that no individual can rightly be
credited for the creation of the Internet or WWW, since far too many
individuals were involved. He did however give credit to Al Gore for
recognizing the importance of the Internet and pushing, promoting and
funding it’s development. He noted that this was critical to to the
Internet’s success and boom.

There is a note on Al Gore in the slides, but not the level of detail he gave in the presentation and I cite here.


I thought others might find this interesting, and I think it is worth reflecting on as we prepare for what will be a very spirited general election in which the media is not likely to go in deep on issues and, as it has proven so willing to do thus far (witness bittergate and to an extent snipergate) get stuck on laughable or incendiary soundbites. It is incumbent upon us as voters to seek out and demand the important details, and not just regurgitate partisan or media talking points.

Now, more than ever, we have access to the real information, the candidate’s records, even the candidates themselves. We need to disintermediate the pundits from this political campaign.

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