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[ih] XEROX/PUP and Commercialization (was Re: FYI - Gordon Crovitz/WSJ on "Who Really Invented the Internet?")

Scott Brim <scott.brim at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Wed, Jul 25, 2012 at 10:31 AM, Dave Crocker <dhc2 at dcrocker.net> wrote:
> > However I prefer to define "The Internet" as the start of Arpanet operation,
> > since it's been in continuous operation since then, with all of its
> > original, user-level applications still in use.
> >
> > I'm also obviously biased to buttress this view by noting the remarkable
> > similarity between the email messages sent by Tomlinson in 1971 and the core
> > of mail formats we we today.  This end-to-end service orientation prompted
> > RFC 1775, To be "On" the Internet.
> So it turns out that even in this group, engineering-heavy as it is,
> "the Internet" is less defined by a technology accomplishment
> (interworking independently administered networks) than by the
> services end users experience (e.g. email).

I think you're conflating a few different things.  Part of it is the
distinction between "an internet" and "The Internet" that a few people
brought up.  An interconnection of heterogeneous independently
administered networks is an internet, and there were early internets
separate from The Internet (and that was the point of my earlier
question: were there any such early separate internets that provided
packet-switched interconnection between their constituent networks).

Leaving aside temporarily what "The Internet" is, I think what your
comment focuses on is the idea that each internet has a continuous
existence, and an identity.  We can speak about this internet and
that internet, and obviously the fact that both of them are internets
is not enough to identify which is which, and whether one of them is
the successor of the other or they're two separate instances.

What you point out is that we are using the specific technology
legacies on an internet to identify its continuity of existence.
I don't think that's specifically end user services, it's also
lower level technologies.  The fact that this particular internet
was using IP while that one was using DECnet, for example.

So back to "The Internet": It's not just any internet, it's a specific
one, and we're trying to identify its lineage.  The history of this
particular entity goes back to before it even was an internet - just
as the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies are a key point in the
creation of the country now known as the United States, even though it
was neither the US nor an independent country at that time.

When we're tracing the Internet's history back to its beginnings in
the days before it was an internet, what we're trying to do is not
define what "an internet" is, but rather to define what marks a
particular such entity's identity and continuous existence.  We're
identifying not *what* it is, but *which one* it is.
  -- Cos