Thursday, March 13, 2014

Happy Birthday Internet

This week is, allegedly, the 25th Anniversary of the Internet.  Sort of.

Despite what you have heard, and others have suggested, the Internet will not kill us all. 

Instead, it creates increased connectivity, which is the true engine of innovation and ingenuity -- the thing that will SAVE us all.

Watch this 4-minute video in which Steven Johnson goes over the natural history of innovation and explores where good ideas come from.

Did you see he mentions the World Wide Web and Tim Berners-Lee?  Well, guess what?  Tim Berners-Lee did not invent the Internet.  Government did.  Tim Berners-Lee simply suggested adding hyper text to an Internet system that already existed -- and he did it while employed by "the government" at CERN in Switzerland.  

Yes, that's right, government funding created the Internet.


Government funding kept people like Vinton Cerf (who invented both the IP and TCP), and a few dozen others (like Tim Berners-Lee) in food and shelter while they did Great Things That Changed the World. 

And yeah, Al Gore was there pushing it all along.  But why take my word for it, when Vinton Cerf and Bob Kuhn themselves will tell you how it went?

Did you see Steven Johnson mentions coffee houses? 

Yes, that's right.  Coffee is the fountain head of all great things, including the World Wide Web (circa 1600) and increased intellectual activity and productivity.   To read more about this (and a little bit more) see an earlier post on this blog entitled Coffee, Birds & the World Bank.

And what of the larger message that Steven Johnson is illuminating here -- that connectivity drives intellect and innovation?

The first person to point this out was the Marquis de Condorcet, who is probably the most important person you have never heard of (though Norman Borlaugh is right up there too). 

To read more about the Marquis de Condorcet, see this link on The Root of the Oldest and Most Important Debate in the World.

That is all for now, as it's 3:30 in the morning.  

Yes, coffee will do that to you too


1 comment:

Karen Carroll said...

In the mid-80's when I worked at the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health. There was something called BitNet. It was used to as a collaboration tool for the Scientists to exchange ideas and edit papers over phone lines across the US and world. I was strictly for official business at that time.