Saturday, April 07, 2007

Off-topic - birth the the internet

Wired news has a blurb about how today (April 7th) is considered by some to be the birth of the Internet. Why today? Because on April 7th the first “request for comments,” or RFC 1 was issued. The creation and use of an RFC was not a technological event in any traditional sense, just a procedural change on how the public was queried for advice and comment which would form the core a public debate. I would guess the RFC was sent out with snail mail and a stamp after being printed on a letterpress printer no less. Well, maybe not a letterpress printer.

It gets to a really great question. People obsess on hardware and software developments to date the Internet and all sorts of technological breakthroughs. Dates such as when ARPAnet came around, or bitnet or ftp or email or the WWW. But if this version is right, it was not the technology that was important, but the organization and culture that shifted. Technology just followed.

I don't think there is a correlation, but Wired Magazine this month talks about similar revolutionary thoughts that are not really about technology either. It highlights efforts to bring greater openness, or radical transparency, to all forms of business and government management. Technology may help those efforts, but it certainly isn't either the enabler or the stovepipe. As the Wikipeida entry points out, the idea itself is not far afield from that written about by Sir Thomas More in 1516.

If you have read through that, you may be interested in (semi-shameless plug follows) my colleague Stu Shulman's new Journal of Information Technology & Politics (JITP).

Ok. no more philosophy for the day.


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