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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. 🙂


>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
>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:
>The Red Herring interview: E-Gore