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Al Gore leads the Internet Hall of Fame’s inaugural class
You won’t find many household names on the list of inaugural inductees, but these people helped revolutionize the Web.
Turns out Al Gore may have been the father of the Internet after all.
Gore, who attracted ridicule during the 2000 Election after taking some credit for the creation of Internet, is probably feeling a bit vindicated today after being selected in the inaugural class of the Internet Hall of Fame. The inductees were announced Monday at the Internet Society’s Global INET Conference in Geneva, Switzerland.
Much like its rock & roll counterpart, the Internet Hall of Fame is essentially an annual awards program, with a new website showcasing each inductee. The site will also feature regular interviews with inductees and an exclusive column series for Wired.
In addition to Gore, honorees—which were divided between pioneers, global connectors, and innovators—include Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist, and Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web.
You won’t find many other household names on the list. Vinton Cerf? Robert Kahn? Those names may not be as recognizable as Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs, but perhaps they should be. Cerf and Kahn helped develop the first Internet Protocols (IPs), which computers use to communicate with one another and are thus pretty fundamental to every action committed on the Internet, from completing a Google search to posting on your friend’s Facebook wall.
The list has already inspired controversy in some corners of the Web. Gizmodo’s Mario Aguilar listed “Ten People Who Actually Deserve To Be in the Internet Hall of Fame,” citing 4Chan’s Christopher Poole, blogging/aggregation/siren pioneer Matt Drudge, and Napster’s Shawn Fanning.
“For everything Tan Tin Wee has done for the Internet (I assume?), these aren’t the people that made the rest of the world aware of its power,” Aguilar wrote. “Put another way: The architect who designed Fenway Park isn’t in Cooperstown, but Babe Ruth sure is.”
It’s a classic “chicken-or-the-egg” argument. While guys like Poole and Fanning shaped the Internet into something Cerf and Kahn could never have imagined in the 1970s, there’d be no technological platform for others to build upon without those stuffy Department of Defense guys.
So while the inaugural class is undoubtedly deserving of the honor, the Internet Society could probably stand to include a few more culture leaders next time around.
Photo via American Center for Progress Action Fund
David Holmes is a technology and politics reporter. His work has appeared in Fast Company, the Guardian, the Daily Beast, and Stereogum. In 2011, he wrote the acclaimed "The Fracking Song (My Water's on Fire Tonight) based on ProPublica's investigation on hydraulic fractured gas drilling.