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[ih] infrastructure history [was: who invented the Internet]

Ian Peter wrote:
> The whole thing is this -
> If it wasn't for the eventual collaboration of government, business, and non
> governmental interests - and the adoption by all these parties in other
> countries as well - we would be talking about a failed US military time
> sharing project called ARPANet.
> It's nonsense to say the Internet was purely a government project, a private
> sector project, or even a US project. Without the collaboration described
> above we probably wouldn't even be talking about it.
> The Internet is the *result* of collaboration - its almost definitional. So
> there are no political points to gain, no ownership to proclaim, and no
> fundamentalist economic and political theories to support here.

Unfortunately, folks seem to use any excuse to score political points.  

> Just lots of individuals whose collaboration and vision helped bring this
> about. And yes, some active governmental and private sector support.

Politics aside, there are, perhaps, lessons to be learned from how that 
collaboration came about, and what sustains it - after all, "lots of 
individuals" also describes a milling crowd, or a day at the beach.  And 
it certainly seems legitimate, and useful, to explore the role of 
government in creating/supporting/participating in that collaboration.

The global telephone network also involves a lot of collaboration, among 
the same players - but, technology aside, the ownership, governance, 
operation, ... of the telephone network is a stark contrast to the 
Internet.  Why?  What's different?  What lessons can be learned?  What 
about comparisons with other forms of infrastructure (in this regard, I 
commend the "Infrastructure History Series," a series of books by Amy 
Friedlander, sponsored by CNRI - http://cnri.reston.va.us/series.html).

Over the years, its struck me that the Internet remains one of the few, 
perhaps the only, example of global infrastructure that's emerged from, 
and is sustained by, very loosely coupled collaboration among, at this 
point, billions of individuals.

And it all stemmed from some vision and key decisions of a relatively 
small groups of key individuals, spread across government, academia, and 

And it does strike me that some key early decisions were made, and 
enforced, by individuals in government roles - funding the ARPANET, 
awarding the contract to BBN (what if DoD had just gone with AUTODIN2)?  
What if the early funders hadn't encouraged/supported/allowed a 
bottom-up standards process and gone with a more traditional top-down, 
specifications driven process?

Seems like a lot of history to be examined.

Miles Fidelman

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice.
In practice, there is.   .... Yogi Berra