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Correcting the Record: the Government's Role In the Internet

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the oh-finally-it's-settled dept.

The Internet 257

TwobyTwo writes "Yesterday, Slashdot posted a piece titled Who Really Invented the Internet?. It quoted a Wall Street Journal article with the same title by Gordon Crovitz. Crovitz makes the claim that government research did not play a key role in driving the invention of the Internet, giving credit instead to Xerox PARC. Unfortunately, Crovitz' article is wrong on many specific points, and he's also wrong in his key conclusion about the government's role. In a wonderful piece in the LA Times Michael Hiltzik corrects the record. Hiltzik, who is the author of an excellent book about PARC called Dealers of Lightning, makes clear that government funded research was indeed the foundation for the Internet's success."

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Al Gore (1, Flamebait)

ravenswood1000 (543817) | about 2 years ago | (#40748409)

So it wasn't Al Gore?

Re:Al Gore (2)

neorush (1103917) | about 2 years ago | (#40748463)

No no, that was the interpipes....wrong network.

Re:Al Gore (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40748501)

His claim to have been affiliated with some committee that oversaw funding for ARPANet was correct. If Vint Cerf thinks he was an important early believer on the political side that's good enough for me.

Re:Al Gore (5, Insightful)

Enry (630) | about 2 years ago | (#40748613)

Before Al Gore got involved, there was little to no commercial traffic over the Internet (you couldn't sell anything). This was back when the NSF(?) was involved. Afterwards, you could start selling and interest in the Internet increased rapidly.

Did Al Gore create the Internet? No. Was he one of the people primarily responsible for making it what it is today? Yes.

Re:Al Gore (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40748635)

Did Al Gore create global warming? No. Was he one of the people primarily responsible for making it what it is today? Yes.

FTFY.

troll on

Re:Al Gore (3, Insightful)

tomhath (637240) | about 2 years ago | (#40749021)

He was one of several sponsors of the Senate bill that made the Internet more available to the general public.

Re:Al Gore (5, Informative)

gorzek (647352) | about 2 years ago | (#40749225)

He also advocated publicly for it, which went a bit beyond just putting his name on a Senate bill. He really believed in its potential and tried to make others aware of it. He deserves more credit than he gets, in any case.

Re:Al Gore (1, Insightful)

darjen (879890) | about 2 years ago | (#40749597)

The internet would have happened with or without his involvement. Giving a politician any kind of credit is kind of ridiculous, IMO.

Re:Al Gore (5, Informative)

slimjim8094 (941042) | about 2 years ago | (#40749099)

Which, funnily enough, is almost exactly what he said. People love to misremember what he said, and then hold them accountable for what they wish he said.

During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet.

Vint Cerf and Bob Khan (who know something about Internet history) had this to say:

"No one in public life has been more intellectually engaged in helping to create the climate for a thriving Internet than the Vice President."

and

"as far back as the 1970s, Congressman Gore promoted the idea of high speed telecommunications as an engine for both economic growth and the improvement of our educational system. He was the first elected official to grasp the potential of computer communications to have a broader impact than just improving the conduct of science and scholarship [...] the Internet, as we know it today, was not deployed until 1983. When the Internet was still in the early stages of its deployment, Congressman Gore provided intellectual leadership by helping create the vision of the potential benefits of high speed computing and communication."

Re:Al Gore (2, Insightful)

Trailer Trash (60756) | about 2 years ago | (#40749485)

Which, funnily enough, is almost exactly what he said. People love to misremember what he said, and then hold them accountable for what they wish he said.

During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet.

I was actually watching that interview when he said that, and I nearly lost a mouthful of soda. He claimed to have created the internet. Read what you pasted above. I agree that he directed funding and supported it, but he did not create it.

And note that "initiative" in the statement above cannot be a "congressional initiative" because it's part of the idiomatic phrase "took the initiative". One cannot "take" a congressional initiative.

http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/take+the+initiative [thefreedictionary.com]

Re:Al Gore (1)

V for Vendetta (1204898) | about 2 years ago | (#40749251)

If Vint Cerf thinks he was an important early believer on the political side that's good enough for me.

Agreed. Obligatory email reference [interesting-people.org] .

Re:Al Gore (0)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 2 years ago | (#40748531)

He actually invented the Halo series and thought it was the internet.

Re:Al Gore (1)

Ashenkase (2008188) | about 2 years ago | (#40748619)

I am to the point were I am considering the words "Al Gore" the same as "First Post".

Re:Al Gore (1)

Sperbels (1008585) | about 2 years ago | (#40748681)

Oh. My. God. I have heard this joke nearly once a week for the last 10 years. It's not funny anymore. It wasn't funny after the first month.

The government, OOOooh Yeah..!!!. (2)

axlr8or (889713) | about 2 years ago | (#40748413)

Funded with tax payer dollars. You're welcome government. But your still not allowed to steal my freedoma!

Re:The government, OOOooh Yeah..!!!. (2)

jimmy_dean (463322) | about 2 years ago | (#40749057)

Here here!

Well, I guess we can just copy the discussion over (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40748419)

Why repeat ourselves, we solved it yesterday, didn't we, with our original commentary?

SO WHAT? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40748421)

Great, now we're going to start wasting our time with more who-invented-what arguing so govt can use that as an excuse to get carried away with CISPA and other bills, permitting them to do whatever they want because THEY invented it in the first place? Get real dude! Rubbish...

Re:SO WHAT? (4, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 years ago | (#40748533)

Translation: Don't falsify my ideology with facts!

Re:SO WHAT? (4, Insightful)

coastwalker (307620) | about 2 years ago | (#40748847)

This thing about some factions in the US hating everything the government does is incomprehensible in Europe. Some things a government does are good and some are bad but a conviction that everything must be either good or bad is obviously the sign of a failed intellect. How did your politics become so meaningless and manipulable by marketing exercises? Is it just the way media has become so powerful or is it that Americans have become stupid?

To my mind there are some human enterprises that would benefit from government funding. Finding drugs or vaccines to cure chronic diseases of the poor or gene patents would be a good start as both these areas are in markets with poor linkage to externalities. Fundamental research with no obvious application to commerce is another.

There are plenty of things governments are not very good at doing. Making things and delivering them to customers is one.

It is not at all surprising that the Government had a large role in creating the internet. A private enterprise would have invented something that could make much more money using the business models of the time. There wouldn't be any of this nonsense about allowing so much traffic that doesn't result in direct monetary transactions.

Re:SO WHAT? (2)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 years ago | (#40748997)

This is especially puzzling since the "conservative faction" here was founded with "Big Government" in mind. The GOP is the original part of "lets have the government build some roads" so we can make more money.

The Internet is exactly the kind of "big infastructure" the original Republicans wanted to encourage.

Re:SO WHAT? (0)

jimmy_dean (463322) | about 2 years ago | (#40749209)

I'll take your word on that. However, regardless, spending is clearly out of control today given that local municipalities, states and even the federal government are toying with bankruptcy. Big infrastructure is dead for now, lets maintain what we already have while cutting a lot of spending.

Re:SO WHAT? (3, Interesting)

postbigbang (761081) | about 2 years ago | (#40749523)

Must.Dissect.Meme.

No, the federal government isn't toying around with bankruptcy.

Some states are raising taxes because of their long unfunded pension liabilities, which were used to cook the books. See the commercial version of this: United Airlines, for one

A few municipal governments are indeed filing Chapter 9s. Uniformly, these filings are as a result of long-term mayor vs city council funding issues.

Big infrastructure is not dead for now, and it never was. Let's kill the meme that spending is bad: it can do lots of good if there's a realistic expectation of an outcome, rather than peeing it down a rathole.

Yes, you might need to raise revenues through reasonable taxation: a fair share.

Re:SO WHAT? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40749331)

[citation needed]

Re:SO WHAT? (1)

JackieBrown (987087) | about 2 years ago | (#40749345)

Exactly. We should hold both parties to their platforms from back them since obviously a party can't evolve.

Re:SO WHAT? (1)

quacking duck (607555) | about 2 years ago | (#40749157)

conviction that everything must be either good or bad is obviously the sign of a failed intellect. How did your politics become so meaningless and manipulable by marketing exercises? Is it just the way media has become so powerful or is it that Americans have become stupid?

It's not an "or" question, both are true.

Of course that's generalizing; not all Americans are so easily manipulated, but are moderates/centrists who can see two (or more) sides of an issue and aren't blinded by partisanship. Unfortunately, that means they're "fence-sitters", "indecisive", "flip-floppers" and other derogatory terms to ideologues on both sides.

Re:SO WHAT? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40749647)

Business did.... AOL was what it was called (CompuServe, Prodigy, etc).

Re:SO WHAT? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40748601)

On the contrary, something invented with the people's resources should remain in the people's control.

Something private - and there is pretty much no infrastructure in the modern world built entirely thanks to capitalist investment - can go ahead and create its own money-grubbing rules.

Re:SO WHAT? (1)

Freddybear (1805256) | about 2 years ago | (#40748791)

"The people" didn't build that. A person did.

Re:SO WHAT? (1)

geminidomino (614729) | about 2 years ago | (#40748857)

On "the people's" dime.

Re:SO WHAT? (1)

Freddybear (1805256) | about 2 years ago | (#40749117)

Then why didn't "the people" build it? What were they waiting for?

Re:SO WHAT? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40749285)

To those who say that creativity can come out of a vacuum, I offer a vacuum for them to be creative in.

(Also, you're being childishly obtuse and it's kinda embarrassing.)

Re:SO WHAT? (2)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 years ago | (#40748965)

Except this was started by some mindless Libertarian. He probably wants to push his agenda of gutting the SEC and the EPA.

Enjoy your Ponzi Schemes and drinking water that smells like Jet Fuel.

Re:SO WHAT? (1)

danbert8 (1024253) | about 2 years ago | (#40749301)

Oooh, I love the smell of Jet Fuel! And I do quite enjoy paying into Social Security, thankyouverymuch.

Niggers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40748423)

Invented the internet

...I was wondering about that... (1)

neorush (1103917) | about 2 years ago | (#40748439)

I was wondering how the editors even let the other one through as valid news...I think most of us here are pretty aware of PARC and how the gov really was responsible for the foundation of the internet...that said it did very quickly since evolve beyond that.

Re:...I was wondering about that... (0)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about 2 years ago | (#40748859)

I was wondering how the editors even let the other one through as valid news...I think most of us here are pretty aware of PARC and how the gov really was responsible for the foundation of the internet...that said it did very quickly since evolve beyond that.

The Wall Street Journal is now a Murdoch publication, just like Fox News. They don't check facts, they create them.

Government is good for jumpstarting tech/ideas (3, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40748461)

Government is good for funding basic R&D and jumpstarting new technology and ideas. But then it should step out of the way, and handover the task to thousands of private businesses in the open market, rather than continue to hold a monopoly.

The internet is an example of a well-managed government project where the government stepped-aside when the time was right. (As opposed to other government projects like the Amtrak Monopoly that should have been sold to Conrail or some other profitable rail company years ago.)

Re:Government is good for jumpstarting tech/ideas (1, Funny)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 2 years ago | (#40748507)

"a well-managed government project"

Gave me shivers down my spine.

Re:Government is good for jumpstarting tech/ideas (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 2 years ago | (#40748653)

"a well-managed government project"

Gave me shivers down my spine.

Hey, even a one in a million chance will come through now and then...

Re:Government is good for jumpstarting tech/ideas (2)

Dragonslicer (991472) | about 2 years ago | (#40748765)

Hey, even a one in a million chance will come through now and then...

One-in-a-million chances come through nine times out of ten.

Re:Government is good for jumpstarting tech/ideas (1)

geminidomino (614729) | about 2 years ago | (#40748933)

Unless, of course, you're in the Ankh-Morpork City Watch...

Re:Government is good for jumpstarting tech/ideas (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40748703)

No worse than the shivers from the phrase "innovative industry R&D". Both are capable of producing valuable results, but often fail to live up to the expectations from the effort and money that is spent. Instead of wallowing in supposedly-settled stereotypes, how about acknowledging that things do work out contrary to them from time-to-time?

Re:Government is good for jumpstarting tech/ideas (4, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 2 years ago | (#40748715)

Although this may seem hard for conservatives to believe, there is such a thing as a government program that does its job well: The VA, for instance, manages health care with less overhead than either private insurers or Medicare. The US Coast Guard does a great deal of lifesaving and policing while operating on a shoestring budget. The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau recently published information on bad credit card companies with probably about 2-4 people (1 web developer, a webserver in a datacenter they probably already had, and a couple people to analyse the complaints).

Of course, contrary to what some liberals believe, not all government works well: DoD procurement is ridiculous ($5000 hammers aren't totally uncommon), highway projects are notoriously corrupt, and some agencies accomplish very little. But saying that all government is mismanaged is just as wrong as saying that all government is well-managed.

Re:Government is good for jumpstarting tech/ideas (1)

axlr8or (889713) | about 2 years ago | (#40748813)

Nah, its just that squeezing the VA would be like trying to sqeeze a turnip. No money in it. If there was, there would be gross mismanagement.

Re:Government is good for jumpstarting tech/ideas (4, Insightful)

nbauman (624611) | about 2 years ago | (#40748949)

Not only does the VA manage health care cheaper than private industry, they do it better in terms of the results that count: keeping people healthier.

For example, the VA system does a lot of prostate cancer surgery. They just published an article in the New England Journal of Medicine (367:203 if you want to look it up) in which they found that surgery for prostate cancer (radical prostatectomy) in most cases doesn't really do any good. The price you pay is that half the men who get prostate cancer surgery wind up sexually impotent.

The VA system does a lot of research on outcomes of different treatments. For a lot of surgery, if you want to find out whether a procedure does any good, and you look up the research, it turns out that the VA did it. And some of the VA hospitals have the best results in the country.

In the private health care system, there are surgeons who rush everybody into surgery, whether they need it or not, because they make $10,000 or so for every procedure. In the VA hospital, they only perform surgery on those vets who actually need it.

Re:Government is good for jumpstarting tech/ideas (1)

sohmc (595388) | about 2 years ago | (#40749185)

Although this may seem hard for conservatives to believe, there is such a thing as a government program that does its job well...

Yes, this is very true. However, these tend to be the exception and not the rule.

The VA works well because the customers are limited. The US Coast Guard does a great job because their mission scope is small (compared to the other service branches). But when the government gets into anything that has a wide scope, that's when things get inefficient.

My parents own a carry-out restaurant. They are forced by competition to accept EBT (food stamps). It strikes them as odd that people who pay for their food in food stamps usually drive really nice cars (e.g. BMWs, Cadies). Could be that the cars belong to a rich relative but it still strikes them as weird. Could be that they got great deals on the cars. But they can't help but wonder how many of these people would still require food stamps if they sold their car.

They hate having to accept food stamps because it's a nightmare to manage. But they have to because if they don't, they would lose a lot of business to their competitors. My parents often wonder if the government audits the people who get food stamps as often as companies do. Their sense is that they don't. I believe they're right since it's easier and more politically palpable to audit a company than it is to audit a poor person.

Re:Government is good for jumpstarting tech/ideas (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 2 years ago | (#40749221)

VA is a lot better at providing care and managing costs than they were about 20 years ago. They also have a couple of built in advantages over other healthcare providers, a large part is that VA hospitals and physicians don't need malpractice insurance because they're immune from malpractice lawsuits.

Re:Government is good for jumpstarting tech/ideas (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40748761)

You might want to see a doctor about that.

I mean, if you really shiver every time you turn on a light or get mail or drive down an interstate it's probably pretty debilitating. It might even be debilitating enough that you can get government disability ;)

Re:Government is good for jumpstarting tech/ideas (1)

polar red (215081) | about 2 years ago | (#40748549)

task to thousands of private businesses in the open market, rather than continue to hold a monopoly.

yeah, businesses don't eventually end up being a monopoly.
http://johncarlosbaez.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/the-network-of-global-corporate-control/ [wordpress.com]

Re:Government is good for jumpstarting tech/ideas (3, Interesting)

garett_spencley (193892) | about 2 years ago | (#40748769)

There are two types of monopolies:

1) A company is so good at satisfying it's customers that it eliminates it's competition by providing value in the marketplace.

2) A company gets special privileges and favours from the government, including increased regulations of it's own industry. Because when you're a huge corporation with billions in annual revenue and a team of lawyers and lobbyists on staff full-time, complying with regulations that cost mere millions per year is a small tax in exchange for an environment in which it's impossible for start-ups - who only have mere millions in start-up capital to begin with - to enter the market and compete with you. Best part, your team of lawyers and lobbyists can actually be the ones to suggest specific regulations to the politicians who are in your pocket, so you get rules that are cheap for you to follow but prohibitively expensive for others. And those regulations are extremely easy to pass because as well all know, corporations aren't regulated enough!

Re:Government is good for jumpstarting tech/ideas (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40749027)

3) A company that uses pushy tactics marketing and customer knowledge to become bigger than its rivals despite providing a product which is either no better value or worse than its competitors.
4) A company that used to be 1-3 now using standard customer lock in (regulatory capture is a luxury not a necessity) along with purchase and dissipation of promising newcomers to perpetuate its market share despite providing bad value for money. Bad value for money in this case is limited to not being quite so bad that politicians would take legal action to open the market, but this is quite a wide margin....

(3 and 4 are what anti-monopoly regulation is supposed to stop)

Re:Government is good for jumpstarting tech/ideas (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 years ago | (#40749067)

Any company that can't be ignored or is too big to fail is a problem. It's a strategic national interest problem as well as being a menace to consumers.

It doesn't matter if you want to pretend that it represents some sort of twisted meritocracy or not.

Re:Government is good for jumpstarting tech/ideas (1)

mooingyak (720677) | about 2 years ago | (#40749169)

I think you could add #3

A company is the first player in a market with a very high barrier to entry.

Re:Government is good for jumpstarting tech/ideas (2)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 2 years ago | (#40749691)

There are two types of monopolies:

Smells like free market fundemantalism here.

To translate into English: either companies are so awesome they become monopolies or the evil government forces monopolies from bad companies. Either way, it's the corporations awesomeness when it is good and the government's fault when it is bad.

That is, of course bullshit.

Large companies, like, for instance Intel and Microsoft that are in a dominant position can force out the competition using unfair business practices which merely reflect the size of the incumbent, not any competitive advantage. Such as Intel bribing customers not to use the vastly superior Opterons instead of the rather inforior P4 processors.

Intel maintained its position due to its dominance, not by point 1 (awesomeness of company) or point 2 (evil of government).

Despite AMD producing a much better product, they were starved of R&D money at a cricual period, allowing Intel to eventually catch up and pass. That wasn't because intel was better, however. And it wasn't because of the government.

Re:Government is good for jumpstarting tech/ideas (5, Insightful)

Schmorgluck (1293264) | about 2 years ago | (#40748713)

(As opposed to other government projects like the Amtrak Monopoly that should have been sold to Conrail or some other profitable rail company years ago.)

What's the point in turning a government monopoly into a corporate monopoly?

You're aware that there can't be two railway networks on a given territory, right?

Opening the trains to competition, okay, but the tracks are a natural monopoly, and should remain under control of the People, through an entity that is accountable to it. A corporate monopoly isn't accountable to the People.

Re:Government is good for jumpstarting tech/ideas (4, Insightful)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about 2 years ago | (#40748825)

Undoing a mod here, but you evidently haven't experienced the woe and misery of the UK rail network, where private companies compete with each other to see who can get away with fleecing the most out of customers, while the network itself falls apart.

Re:Government is good for jumpstarting tech/ideas (1)

Schmorgluck (1293264) | about 2 years ago | (#40749069)

Yeah, but in the UK case the network itself has been privatized. That was part of my point.

Re:Government is good for jumpstarting tech/ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40749511)

Um, no, not really.

The network WAS privatised, in the form of Railtrack. Railtrack went bust, because it turns out skimping on maintenance and firing all your engineers to make a short term profit is a really great way of making sure your network falls apart in under a decade.

The UK network is now owned by Network Rail. Whether this is a public or private entity is anyone's guess (Even the ONS and NAO disagree). In practice, it is a state-owned company, held at arm's length purely for the purposes of keeping its debt off the Government books. It's debt (several tens of billions of pounds) is guaranteed by the Government. It's priorities are set by the Department for Transport, which also pays for major works out of its budget, and the Government retains the ability to appoint it's directors. Hardly "private".

So Solyndra was the right idea (3, Insightful)

cwgmpls (853876) | about 2 years ago | (#40748843)

f handing manufacturing over to private business is the right strategy, then Obama was on the right track when he tried to move solar panel production out of government-funded research labs and into private business production. While initially funded with start-up grants, Solyndra was to eventually produce and sell solar panels in the open market. Of course, nobody could have predicted that China would flood the solar panel market with Chinese-government subsidized, Chinese-made panels that no open market firm could compete with.

Still, Obama was on the right track to try to move production into private industry rather than create another federal agency to make solar panels. If solar panel production had remained a federal agency project, the production likely would have continued long after the Chinese dumped their own panels on the market, costing U.S. taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars more as the federal-run production would continue even when the market was unprofitable. As it was, Solyndra folded, as any private business in an unprofitable market should, and the loss to the taxpayer was minimized. Moving producing to Solyndra was exactly the free-market strategy that everyone asks for, and was the right thing to do.

Re:Government is good for jumpstarting tech/ideas (4, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 years ago | (#40748917)

Amtrak is the opposite: passenger rail in the U.S. was private for years (well, quasi-private, if we ignore the land grants used to build the rail lines). But with the decline of intercity rail travel, the rail companies wanted to get out of the business, and Amtrak was set up to consolidate and operate a rump service, mainly focused on keeping rural areas connected. The biggest proponents were actually the private rail companies, who wanted a clean exit strategy (aka dump the mess on the government). Congressmen/Senators representing rural areas were also large proponents of the plan at the time, as they were worried about losing their town's stop.

Conrail has no interest in running passenger rail, since freight is far more profitable. There are more or less three options.

One is to shut it down entirely.

A second is to break it up, leaving it to states to operate local portions if they want. This is slowly being done to some extent on the funding side, as Amtrak cuts routes but has a program where they'll agree to keep operating a cut route if a state wants to pay for it. For example, the Vermonter in Vermont, and two routes in California are now operated by Amtrak as contractor on behalf of the respective states.

A third is the Scandinavian option, of a publicly funded but privately operated system: the government draws up what routes it wants operated and at what fares, and then opens it up for companies to bid how much of a subsidy they would need to operate the system as proposed (this is the arrangement under which, e.g., Movia operates the Copenhagen bus system).

Re:Government is good for jumpstarting tech/ideas (1)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | about 2 years ago | (#40749077)

LOL. Trying to repair your karma after spouting just the opposite sentiment yesterday in the other article's discussion? Today the government is good at kickstarting things yet yesterday you were telling us how terrible the government was. I see you also dropped your nonsense about the airlines since it was pointed out how they've been bailed out and are heavily subsidized.

You don't say... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40748469)

The WSJ never let the facts get in the way of a good story... especially when the story is so delicious to the yapping maws of Ayn Rand worshippers that make up their primary audience.

Re:You don't say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40748583)

It's a damn shame to see a paper of WSJ's former quality basically get flushed down the toilet for political astroturf. Great job conservative team!

Re:You don't say... (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#40748775)

The WSJ's editorial pages have long been a... special... zone untrammeled by any shreds of 'journalism' that might cling to other sections of the paper.

Honestly, the only thing that vaguely surprised me about the mindbogglingly stupid article we examined yesterday was that(per his CV) the author should have been smart enough to know better...

God seys... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40748481)

C:\Text\QUIX.TXT

are; and so in truth it is, for if you push on half a league
farther, perhaps you will not be able to find your way out; and I am
wondering how you have managed to come here, for there is no road or path
that leads to this spot. I say, then, that on hearing our answer the
youth turned about and made for the place we pointed out to him, leaving
us all charmed with his good looks, and wondering at his question and the
haste with which we saw him depart in the direction of the sierra; and
after that we

Does he say anything we didn't all say yesterday? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40748487)

Because there's really not that much to say about such a ludicrous claim, and we said plenty.

Wall St. Journal is owned by Rupert Murdoch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40748495)

It's just Fox News For The Rich i.e. conservative infotainment. There are more serious places to get financial news.

Xerox, if you've got an internet... (2)

windcask (1795642) | about 2 years ago | (#40748509)

...you didn't build that!

Don't put the modem before the router (5, Insightful)

davide marney (231845) | about 2 years ago | (#40748535)

The technical community may have invented the Internet, but it was the users who made it valuable by entrusting to it their time, money, and content. The users made a huge investment, and while that investment has paid off handsomely, let's not pretend that technologists invented all that valuable content.

Re:Don't put the modem before the router (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40748661)

But TFS says TFA is a wonderful piece!

Re:Don't put the modem before the router (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40748739)

In other words, the Government didn't invent the internet. Businesses didn't invent the internet. People invented the internet.

Commie!

Re:Don't put the modem before the router (1)

gtbritishskull (1435843) | about 2 years ago | (#40749177)

I don't know of anyone that is arguing the government invented the full internet. The argument is that the internet would not exist in its current format if not for government (or, more accurately, government investment). And the format that it would exist in would not be even close to the current implementation in its usefulness and ability to spur the economy (efficiency boost).

The reason this argument started is that conservatives have been arguing that all productivity and innovation comes from capitalism. And, from that, they argue that a person's success is solely due to their intelligence and hard work and not due to infrastructure and opportunities that are provided by our society (government). From that is it not a big leap to their argument for a flat tax rate or a flat tax. If a person's success is solely due to that person, then why should they pay more to support society?

Obama and Democrats have countered that argument by saying that there are many instances of the government providing great opportunities that lead to more efficiency in the economy (economic growth) that would not have been created by market forces alone (the internet is the most striking example of this). If that is the case, then while intelligence and hard work are important in success, opportunities provided government are also an important part. The two compliment each other. Without a hard working and intelligent populace, government investment would not get much of a return. And, without government, a lot of the hard work and intelligence would be wasted on competitive methods in places where public collaboration is much more efficient and effective. And, it follows that it is "fair" to tax more successful people at a higher rate because they are able to get more benefits from the opportunities that government helps support.

So, I am basically trying to say that it is only the conservatives that are arguing for one over the other (putting the modem before the router, or vice versa). They are basically trying to argue that government investment is useless ("Government cannot create jobs"). The democrats are arguing that the sum of the parts is more than the whole and that every private enterprise in the US has benefited from the government (be it through investment in science, the construction and maintenance of public infrastructure, or through regulation and the rule of law).

Re:Don't put the modem before the router (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 years ago | (#40749263)

For the better part of two decades the Arpanet/Internet connected largely government and academia. The majority of users were, one way or the other, having some or all of their salaries and duties covered by the governments of several countries, though the US government was the biggest contributor.

The Internet was already well established by the time regular consumers started connecting to it in the early 1990s.

officially trolling (2)

zlives (2009072) | about 2 years ago | (#40748539)

as James Holmes would say "government is bad... mkay" (he is from Colorado (the tea party guy, I am looking at you ABC), and what i know about Colorado is from south park)

lets keep our politics about vaginas, homosexuality and god... leave technology out of it, because unlike religion and politics we actually have facts and historically accurate records of technology.

Re:officially trolling (1)

Antipater (2053064) | about 2 years ago | (#40748889)

It takes a brave man to admit he has no historical experience regarding vaginas.

Government did it? (0, Flamebait)

BoRegardless (721219) | about 2 years ago | (#40748655)

B.S. Every single thing our elected government leaders have done is the result of people and the groups of people who are called corporations paying taxes to the government to carry out collective tasks, hopefully as efficiently as possible.

The government is just an extension of people who want to have a level playing field including the roads and bridges and such created and maintained so society can continue their daily business.

Re:Government did it? (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about 2 years ago | (#40748831)

Ok, so government has a definition and a composition. What's wrong with using the word "government" as short hand for that exact concept?

Re:Government did it? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#40749045)

The government is just an extension of people who want to have a level playing field including the roads and bridges and such created and maintained so society can continue their daily business.

That's a lovely, romantic idea, but if you look at what government does today it spends dramatically more of our tax money to provide windfalls for corporations than it does on anything actually positive. Of course, I say this as a resident of a state whose roads are failing partly because we pay more to the federal government than we get back. California is pretty tired of bankrolling bullshit that we can't afford for other states that contribute less. Meanwhile, I'm pretty tired of tax money being used to spread American imperialism.

Re:Government did it? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 2 years ago | (#40749085)

The government is just an extension of people?
I don't think the NSA/DIA was thinking of "people" when they rolled out COINS (Community On-line Intelligence System) from around 1965/70
The US gov knew data storage was the future and saw the issues most of the West was having with massive amounts of secret data entry.
The US gov understood their communications system, their digital data moving on their networks.
The rest of the world was still playing with digital entry of old physical card indexes - and not in real time.
US intelligence had the vision of access to each other's computerised files from around 1965.

It figures (0)

readin (838620) | about 2 years ago | (#40748731)

I always figured it had to be the government. Who else would invent something designed to spread viruses, botnets and prn? Who else would create a monopoly service with no accountability? Who else would create something to keep me paying over and over again for the same software? Who else would create a communications network that is so unsecure that it took a decade to figure out how to safely use it for simple payment transactions (and even now isn't all that safe).

The benefits to connecting computers are obvious. Had the government not created the internet, private companies would have created competing internets. At first it would have been networks of networks within single companies. The later companies that do business together would have connected eventually forming networks of companies that do related business. Then companies would have realized they can market to smaller businesses and eventually even computer owning individuals. An internet, or perhaps a few internets, would have grown up

And at each step of the way, viruses would have been intolerable. Companies running networks or internetworks known to have viruses or to be otherwise unsafe would be pariahs. Security and accountability would have been built in at the beginning. Competing internetworks would try different technologies with the best becoming more popular. What technologies would they have developed to make a better internet?

Of course we'll never know. The government jumped in and did it so no one else could.

Re:It figures (2)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about 2 years ago | (#40748869)

Who else would invent something designed to spread viruses, botnets and prn? Who else would create a monopoly service with no accountability? Who else would create something to keep me paying over and over again for the same software? Who else would create a communications network that is so unsecure that it took a decade to figure out how to safely use it for simple payment transactions (and even now isn't all that safe).

All of which happened after the Internet went commercial.

Re:It figures (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 years ago | (#40749129)

...all of which happened on non-government networks long before the Internet went commercial.

Viruses and warez just use whatever transport mechanism is available.

Re:It figures (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about 2 years ago | (#40749223)

Fair enough, and in support of the point I was trying to make, which was the government didn't create the Internet to spread viruses et al.

Re:It figures (1)

readin (838620) | about 2 years ago | (#40749519)

Fair enough, and in support of the point I was trying to make, which was the government didn't create the Internet to spread viruses et al.

They didn't create it for that purpose, but because they didn't create it in a commercial environment and let it grow and compete, they also didn't create it to prevent viruses and botnets. They built it with all the scrutiny and detail of an academic project, not the scrutiny and detail of a commercial product.

Re:It figures (1)

readin (838620) | about 2 years ago | (#40749463)

Perhaps it would have been better to keep the internet a government run system only for a small group of users instead of opening it up to everyone. Then the competing networks would have been free to borrow technology from the government's system while at the same time developing their own and competing with each other for safe secure computing, and the government's system with its small user-base would be safer from those who would misuse it.

Re:It figures (1)

haapi (16700) | about 2 years ago | (#40749437)

Your hindsight suffers from macular degeneration.

The eagerness for private companies to jump on the Internet to market to end-users is historical fact. Given such demand, why did not private companies create such a secure and accountable internet? Were the benefits not so obvious? There were, and are, privately-managed internets connecting companies (been there, done that, in the late '90's). The free market operated, just not like you expected, because "free marketers" usually fail to take into account that land-lines require laying cable on/in/over public lands, which requires franchise, which requires scale, which led to tiers of service providers and ISPs.

As for competing technologies, the ultimate government-sponsored protocol set is the OSI stack. It competed with the US DARPA/University Researchers/Private Company derived technology and lost, now existing mostly as concepts (compare to an 7-Layer Taco Bell burrito -- google it), and impinges on us in the form of LDAP and Microsoft Exchange.

WSJ and Gartner (5, Insightful)

querist (97166) | about 2 years ago | (#40748741)

It looks like both WSJ and Gartner have both long since jumped the shark. I was in university in the 80s. Anyone who was at large university in the 1980s would have been there to "watch the Internet happen", so to speak. BITNET, ARPANET, MILNET - how can these "reporters" (and yes, I used 'scare quotes' intentionally) hope to be taken seriously when there are plenty of people still alive who were there when the whole thing started? At least wait until most of us have died off before trying to rewrite history like that. Amateurs.

Goverment didn't invent the internet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40748749)

I don't feel the government invented the internet but they where the first to spec and implement an internet type network. More rightly I think they were just first to have a strong need for networks that where resilient to losing nodes. If they hadn't funded arpanet someone would have made something similar in due time. It might have taken a while but it would have come down the pipeline. I am certain that many people had the idea and would have been allowed to implement it as large computer networks got more common and more relied upon; people simple wouldn't tolerate large network outages due to bad weather or other adverse conditions effecting nodes. It may even have been invented simply because network admins would be to lazy to step up new network routes manual after a node outage. Pure laziness is why DNS and BOOTP where invented after all of course the automation made large networks manageable.

Commercialized in 1995? (1)

zenyu (248067) | about 2 years ago | (#40748785)

I think it is pretty obvious that ARPANet was the precursor to the internet and government funded research is responsible for the internet. But I do recall being sold home access to the internet as early as 1994, perhaps it was even earlier. By commercialization they must mean Al Gore's bill that allowed unsolicited advertising over the internet. Can anyone clarify this for me?

Were the merchants of internet connectivity in the early 1990's breaking some regulation?

PS I can't really say the WSJ Editorials have hit a new low. Their news articles have suffered under the new ownership, but their editorial pages have always been a haven for the reality challenged. I wouldn't be surprised to read that they full throatedly supported Mussolini, Pinochet, and Hitler.

Re:Commercialized in 1995? (2)

SilverJets (131916) | about 2 years ago | (#40748977)

Are you possibly remembering services like CompuServe, AOL, Prodigy, GEnie, or the like? While they provided "online" access they weren't the internet. They were more like gated communities.

ISPs were around well before 1995 (1)

brokeninside (34168) | about 2 years ago | (#40749305)

In 1994, I stopped using BBS systems with Internet gateways and switched to a dedicated ISP. The ISP I switched to had been offering service to homes and individuals for a few years by the time that I switched.

The September that Never Ended was in, what, 1993? That was when AOL put in an Internet gateway. But even as far back as then, you could find local ISPs offering dial-up Internet connections.

But, here's the thing, we're talking about when the Internet was ``commercialized'' rather than when it was offered as a commercial service. For that you want to look at things such as the invention of web based advertising, online ordering, the invention of USENET spam, and so on.

History (2)

DaMattster (977781) | about 2 years ago | (#40748947)

My guess is that the article that was written in the Wall Street Journal might have had an ulterior motive but I cannot fathom why the author would want to plug for Xerox - could Xerox have offered some money to the author for such statements? Does Rupert have a vested interest in Xerox somehow?. I've noticed a disturbing trend over the last decade towards revisionist history. Some of this behavior is engaged in by politicians as well as leaders of racist and paramilitary cults. As an example, Iranian President Ahmadinejinad denies the Holocaust ever happened. Hitler used to have a saying that a lie repeated often enough becomes a truth and this is quite an accurate observation. This is particularly scary. I used to think that much of this was just poor journalism but now I'm not so sure. It is fairly widely known that the TCP/IP protocol was developed by DARPA.

Murdoc block (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40748969)

This firefox addon could have prevented the misleading slashdot submission that led to the submission of this correction:
  https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/murdoch-block/

Who is Gordon Crovitz? (2)

nbauman (624611) | about 2 years ago | (#40748973)

Gordon Crovitz lives in lower Manhattan around Wall Street. In fact, he lives near Zuccoti Park that Occupy Wall Street was camped out in.

During the occupation, Crovitz appeared in the local Community Board hearings to argue that OWS should be kicked out because they were making too much noise and disturbing his sleep. Most of the people who came before the Community Board supported OWS (First Amendment and all that), and the Community Board voted to support OWS and let them stay in the park, although they asked OWS to try to keep it quiet at night. Crovitz published a whiny editorial page essay complaining about it.

So Crovitz actually did say, "Hey you kids! Get off my lawn!"

so what? (2)

kenorland (2691677) | about 2 years ago | (#40748975)

Like other public goods, it makes sense for the US government to pay for basic research. And in the case of the Internet, the US government did. Unfortunately, that's a tiny fraction of the overall federal budget. In fact, while the US government paid for some of the research that formed the basis of the Internet, it also did a lot of damage. Packet communications, wireless communications, and digital online communications were being widely used by people such as ham operators and hobbyists for a long time, but were prevented from coming into widespread use by ATT's monopoly and FCC regulations. Without that kind of interference in the market, we probably could have had the Internet revolution 1-2 decades earlier. The cost of government interference was much higher than the small benefit of investment in research (since packet switching technology was being developed anyway.) And that's a microcosm of the political debate going on today. Progressives point to the benefits of a few percent of spending on public goods, spending that conservatives and libertarians generally have no problem with, and then try to use that to justify the remaining bloated budget consisting of entitlements, crony capitalism, and pork.

Government DIDN'T make it what it is today (2, Interesting)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | about 2 years ago | (#40748981)

The key point here is that government didn't make it what it is today. Up until the mid 1980s, the commercial activity on the internet wasn't allowed. And for the next 25-30 years (hopefully longer) taxation stayed out of the equation. Anyone recall a government proposal to charge people for every e-mail sent? Just imagine where we'd be if that had be crammed down our throats. Government produces nothing. If you want to understand the real issue, ask yourself how many monthly fees you pay for things you don't use. Really look at all your monthly bills and add up the fees. And look at "basic charge" for stuff you don't use. Say you go on vacation for a month (6 weeks if you live in Europe). Even if you turned off the main breaker, main water line, main gas line to your house, you still pay those basic charges every month even though you're not using the product. Now imagine that a group of people comes along and says to you "We're going to start billing you every month for stuff you don't need and will never use. You have extra money. Suck it up." And then a year later they come to you and say "Remember that thing we're billing you for that you never use? Yeah, well our costs have tripled." "But why should I keep paying for that?!" you scream. "Well, we can't fire all those people we hired because unemployment will go up. And we can't cut their salaries or benefits either." "But I didn't agree to hire all those people or give them a raise!" you yell. "Tough. Cough it up."

Slashdot tomorrow: Correcting the corrected record (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40749001)

Yesterday, Slashdot posted a piece titled Correcting the Record: the Government's Role In the Internet. It quoted an LA Times article with the different title by Michael Hiltzik. Hiltzik makes the claim that Xerox PARC did not play a key role in driving the invention of the Internet, giving credit instead to government research. Unfortunately, Hiltzik' article is wrong on many specific points, and he's also wrong in his key conclusion about the Xerox PARC's role. In a wonderful piece in the Fox News, Barbara Streisand corrects the corrected record. Streisand, who is the author of an excellent book, makes clear that Xerox PARC research was indeed the foundation for the Internet's success."

the USA didn't go to the moon... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40749203)

Grumman did.

One more correction: AOL and bigger ISPs made it. (1)

PenguinJeff (1248208) | about 2 years ago | (#40749259)

Without the selling and usage the internet would have never been. Without contributing hardware and money to stay interconnected the ISPs would have just been isolated hubs. Before ISPs the internet was only a pipe dream. If AOL or companies like it had never existed the disinterest would have continued and the internet would have been a flop. Love it or hate the same goes for Microsoft and the computer.
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