The internet is a wonderful invention. It has at once made us smarter and dumber at the same time. We have access to knowledge like never before, but we also have access to cat videos like never before. Not to mention we get bombarded by idiotic trends like Throwback Thursday.
Yes, we can all thank Al Gore for facilitating our access to planking, twerking, selfies, and cats acting stupidly.
Because we all know he created the internet.
This sarcastic e-cards tell us so!
The E-Card said “fact” so it must be a fact Al Gore created information superhighway, right? Not exactly. Let’s get to the bottom of this myth once and for all.
Look, presidential hopefuls say a lot of unbelievable sounding things on the campaign trail.
Like when Wolf Blitzer asked Al Gore in 1999 how he was different than his other democratic challengers. Gore said,
This morphed into “Al Gore created the internet” and finally into “Al Gore invented the internet.”
It was a way for conservatives to point out that the guy who has the highest opinion of Al Gore…is Al Gore.
Most people know that Al Gore did not invent the internet, but they do believe the government invented the internet.
That’s not really right either.
While the history of the internet is a bit shady, it starts with a concept called “the Memex.”
The Memex was a concept developed by a guy named Vannevar Bush.
He invented the first modern analog computer all the way back in 1930. His idea for the Memex was a way to store all the world’s information using computers and, at first, microfilm.
Most people refer to an article he wrote in The Atlantic in 1945 titled, “As We May Think” as the starting point for a broader idea of a collective memory machine.
At that time, Vannevar was working as the Chairman of the National Defense Research Committee.
However, he had been writing about the Memex concept since the early 1930s and didn’t really start working for the government until 1938.
In other words, Bush didn’t invent the internet for the government. His invention of the internet was one of the reasons WHY he was hired by the government.
As a side note, how satisfying is it that the guy who invented the internet’s last name is not Gore, but Bush. #boomgoesthedynamite
This isn’t to say the government, more specifically the military, wasn’t highly involved in the development of the internet from concept to reality.
Another side note, this is the only time progressives will give credit to the military. #megasharknadofail
Back when Al Gore was a 21-year-old college student the backbone of the internet, the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET), was commissioned.
Yet another side note. Al what the hell happened? You were once a fairly sexy man. Damn this gravity and aging! #dayummm #boomshockalocka
The defense department’s ARPANET laid the groundwork for the internet starting as a network to connect early research computers to each other. As of 1982, ARPANET linked 88 computers. That may have sounded cool at the time, but that did nothing for you.
What the government did for the internet was certainly foundational but largely worthless to your everyday life. The unique thing the government brings to the table for projects like this is unlimited access to your money.
Then Senator Al Gore couldn’t even fathom the internet being created without government funds aka your money.
As he detailed in his 1991 article for the Scientific American: “Infrastructure for the Global Village: A high-capacity network will not be built without government investment”.
And Gore was very, very successful at using your money. He sponsored the High Performance Computing and Communications Act in 1991 aka the Gore Bill which dumped 600 million dollars into high performance computing.
And one of the things that came out of that was a really crappy web browser. Yay.
The government, no doubt, was involved in advancing the internet—but what turned the internet from a boring network of 88 computers into the thing you posted a picture of your oatmeal on this morning—was the private sector—more specifically, Xerox.
Xerox is largely credited for inventing the Ethernet, graphical user interface, and the PC.
Robert Taylor, who was influential in the creation of the internet both at DARPA and then as an employee of Xerox maintains that,
“The origins of the internet include work both sponsored by the government and Xerox PARC, so you can’t say that the internet was invented by either one alone.”
If anyone should get credit for the creation of the internet, it’s Vannevar Bush and Robert Taylor, not Gore.
It’s really ironic that Al Gore would want to be so highly associated with the internet anyway—given that it uses so much electricity.
That bastion of conservatism, The New York Times, found that server farms worldwide use 30 billion watts of electricity.
But wait Al, it gets better.
Data centers, on average, only use 6 to 12 percent of the electricity powering their servers to perform computations. The rest of the electricity is used just in case there is a surge of activity. In other words, it’s completely wasted.
That seems like a really inconvenient truth, Al.
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