Monday, March 31, 2008

Al Gore the Internet and My Underwear

I Have Underwear Older than the Web

No, Al Gore didn't invent the internet.

In fact, Gore never claimed he "invented" the Internet. That misconception comes from highly politicized, out-of-context distortions by Republican spin-doctors of something he said during an interview with Wolf Blitzer in March of 1999. Here's what he said:

"During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country's economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system."

Does that sound like he's saying "I built the sucker from scratch!"? Just as Rick never said "Play it again, Sam," in Casablanca, Al Gore never said "I invented the internet". But according to Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn - two men who were instrumental in the internet's invention, Al Gore was the politician in Washington most envolved in aiding their efforts. This is a quote from an article in Wikipedia called The History of the Internet:

"Scholars generally agree, however, that the turning point for the World Wide Web began with the introduction of the Mosaic web browser in 1993, a graphical browser developed by a team at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, led by Marc Andreessen. Funding for Mosaic came from the High-Performance Computing and Communications Initiative, a funding program initiated by then-Senator Al Gore's High Performance Computing and Communication Act of 1991 also known as the Gore Bill."

So it took hardware engineers like Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn and software engineers like Marc Andreessen as well as social engineers like Al Gore to "invent the internet".

In 1990 Tim Berners-Lee came up with a hyper-text system for communicating with plane text in the earliest browsers. That quickly evolved into HTML or hyper-text markup language. This page you're reading is built with HTML. Tim Berners-Lee was working for CERN or the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

In 1992 the World Wide Web was released by CERN.

In 1993 Marc Andreessen at the University of Illinois develops a graphical user interface to the WWW, called "Mosaic for X".

In 1994 Pizza Hut offers pizza ordering on its Web page.

The ancient history of the internet could be traced back to America's response to the Soviet Union's launching of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite, in 1957. In response to that momentous event, President Dwight D. Eisenhower created the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) bringing together the nation's best minds in order to join the Russians in space. It took a lot of failed attempts but Explorer I, was launched into Earth orbit by the U.S. Army on Jan. 31, 1958, at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The ARPA later began working on computer networking which eventually led to the Internet.

In the mid-sixties President Eisenhower was speaking around the country taking credit for creating the interstate hi-way system when he didn't lay an inch of asphalt. And yet the history books give him credit for his visionary guidance. Al Gore deserves the same amount of credit for helping to create the Super Information Highway.

And yes, I think I still have a couple of pairs of old thongs in the back of my sock drawer dating back to the disco days of the eighties that are, if not older than the internet, definitely older than the Web.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

This is March 30th, 2008, a date that will live in infamy, for no one other than myself, in that I have committed to doing this when I haven't the time for the projects I am already committed to. Another ball and chain to drag around. But, I'll try to find the time.

And why am I doing this? To improve my typing skills, of course, and to promote my Website. That would be Besides, I have to have a blog. Everyone has a blog. I have friends whose pets have blogs.

I intend to blog about Web design, a subject I know very little about, computers and politics.

I've just today finished jumping through the whoops necessary to set up a simple wireless home network. I used a Linksys WRT54G router to network a desktop running XP to my new laptop running Vista Home Premium. It wasn't easy. Maybe it should have been but it wasn't.

I spent a lot of time on the telephone talking to people with interesting English accents all to no avail. The lesson learned from this ordeal of successfully networking my machines is "start with Google and stay with Google" and never trust Homo sapiens.