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You’re right.. it’s funny how over the years there’s been a constant problem of people confusing the Information Superhighway with the internet and, conversely, the World Wide Web with the internet. For clarification, I’m of the belief the internet was not a significant medium until it became accessible to the general public, around 1993, co-incident with the beginning of the web’s birth.

The watershed events that I see as making the internet meaningful to the public were:

– Internet Service Providers allowing dialup access – SLIP and PPP – Affordable 28.8K modems (and faster..) – The World Wide Web

… these all came together in the Fall of 1993 and really hit home in 1994.

But as I started looking into the things Gore did and said in the early-mid 90s I began to realize that he actually did have a role in keeping government out of the internet. It’s not so much what he did do as what he and congress didn’t do that is significant.

He essentially advocated and succeeded in creating a free economy where internet-based companies were neither regulated or taxed in any meaningful way, which one could argue was the best thing government could do. I think that the lack of government oversight into the internet economy was a major enabling factor in allowing the organism and the ecosystem to grow and flourish (sort of…). It was necessary to create this kind of opportunity in order to push the technology further forward and cause it to grow fractally.

The interesting time for IP will be the next five years, when government does start to get more involved with their growing understanding of its influences and opportunities from a governmental perspective.

-Ian. (Paid $400 for a 2400bps Supra external in 1990 and used it for 3 years!)

>From: “Wilson Zehr”
>To: “Ian Andrew Bell”
>Subject: RE: Fwd: Bill [Clinton], Al, Bill [Gates], Larry, Jim,
>inventing the Inter net et all…
>Date: Mon, 16 Oct 2000 11:52:22 -0700
>
>Ian:
>
>In 1985 one of my jobs at Verdix (my first technical job) was to maintain
>the usenet newsgroups. We were the local news feed. This system ran on a
>Vax 750 running 4.2BSD which we had source code for (very cool at that
>time). From 1:00 AM to 5:00 AM every morning the news feed brought this
>system to its knees. This was in addition to the already nationwide email
>network.
>
>The Internet was here WAAAAY before the Web. Gore certainly had no role in
>creating the Internet (it was already well established in 1985). The growth
>of the Web appears much more organic to me. First there was the Internet,
>then the browser, then a gigantic snowball-o-stuff. The only thing he could
>have done was slow it down — that’s what government is for after all…
>
>Wilson
>
>—–Original Message—–
>From: Ian Andrew Bell [mailto:chimp [at] ianbell [dot] com]
>Sent: Monday, October 16, 2000 12:23 PM
>To: foib [at] ianbell [dot] com
>Subject: @F: Fwd: Bill [Clinton], Al, Bill [Gates], Larry, Jim,
>inventing the Inter net et all…
>
>
>I tried to find Al Gore’s NII white paper from 1994, to no avail.
>Friendship points to anyone who does. Not surprisingly, it ain’t on
>his White House web page.
>
>Whether Al Gore “invented” or “pushed” the Information Superhighway,
>it is pretty clear that he has morphed this foggy notion to be able
>to capitalize on the popularity of the internet, first by
>encompassing the internet into his Information Superhighway and
>later, by positioning the internet as the Information Superhighway
>incarnate. On the flip side, I don’t think that many of us in 1994
>could have predicted what the internet might mean to our daily lives
>in 2000, so why bash Gore for that?
>
>In fact, I remember the fall of 1993 Sebastian and Gersham got some
>money from an airline pilot to build “Helix BBS”, which sold shell
>access for $22.95/mo and offered Internet email as a subcomponent.
>This was what set us all on our career paths. None of us then could
>have predicted what would happen, and the degree to which having
>access to that network would affect peoples’ lives.
>
>Nobody invented the internet. It’s a bazaar. Gore was wrong, Jim
>Clark was wrong, Bill Gates was REALLY wrong, and Gil Amelio wasn’t
>even in the ball park. Even Tim Berners-Lee, in trying to solve a
>simple problem, didn’t anticipate the reach of his creation. But
>each of their contributions to the internet’s evolution pushed and
>pulled to shape it into the blob that it is today.
>
>Jeff Pulver has lately been fond of saying that he woke up one
>morning recently, and video on the internet started to “happen”. If
>this is true, and it is starting to happen, then one day Al Gore’s
>vision of a true SuperHighway with a heavy emphasis on Interactive
>Video might actually come to fruition, using the internet as a
>backbone. Then he’ll be able to say he knew it all along. 🙂
>
>-Ian.
>
>>From: “Zhang, Yangkun”
>>To: “‘kragen [at] pobox [dot] com'” , fork [at] kragen.dnaco [dot] net
>>Subject: Bill [Clinton], Al, Bill [Gates], Larry, Jim, inventing the Inter
>> net et all…
>>Date: Mon, 16 Oct 2000 10:58:41 -0400
>>Status:
>>
>>I posit that what Al Gore was pushing in congress had little to do with the
>>modern Internet, but was something more like France’s failed Minitel
>system.
>>Note the two following quotes from the Sept 12, 2000 issue of Red Herring:
>>
>>>From this issue of Red Herring:
>>
>>http://www.redherring.com/mag/issue84/mag-gore-84.html
>>
>>The Red Herring interview: E-Gore
>>

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