10/2/06

Did Al Gore Invent the Internet?



Bush runs commercials mocking Al Gore saying the he claims to have invented the Internet. Bush claims Gore is a liar and that he can't be trusted.

Gore never claimed that he "invented" the Internet, which implies that he engineered the technology. The invention occurred in the seventies and allowed scientists in the Defense Department to communicate with each other. In a March 1999 interview with Wolf Blitzer, Gore said, "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet."

Taken in context, the sentence, despite some initial ambiguity, means that as a congressman Gore promoted the system we enjoy today, not that he could patent the science, though that's how the quotation has been manipulated. Hence the disingenuous substitution of "inventing" for the actual language.

But the real question is what, if anything, did Gore actually do to create the modern Internet? According to Vincent Cerf, a senior vice president with MCI Worldcom who's been called the Father of the Internet, "The Internet would not be where it is in the United States without the strong support given to it and related research areas by the Vice President in his current role and in his earlier role as Senator."
The inventor of the Mosaic Browser, Marc Andreesen, credits Gore with making his work possible. He received a federal grant through Gore's High Performance Computing Act. The University of Pennsylvania's Dave Ferber says that without Gore the Internet "would not be where it is today."
Joseph E. Traub, a computer science professor at Columbia University, claims that Gore "was perhaps the first political leader to grasp the importance of networking the country. Could we perhaps see an end to cheap shots from politicians and pundits about inventing the Internet?"

So, it would appear that Bush is the one lying and can't be trusted. If it wasn't for Al Gore, you might not be reading this web page right now.

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