Monday, November 2, 2009

Al Gore's Claims Refuted by 75-Year Old Man

In a pretty interesting article (considering it talked about the formation days of the Net, before cool things like YouTube, Facebook, blogging, and Google were made available), the man credited as one of the founders of the Internet talks about how it all went down, what he intended it to be used for, and his current take on his creation.

You can read the article here.

Leonard Kleinrock, working at UCLA at the time, essentially experimented with the first "instant message." As he tells it, "...all we wanted to do was log in -- to type an l-o-g, and the remote time-sharing system knows what you're trying to do. So we typed the l, and we asked over the phone, 'Did you get the l?' And the response came back, 'Yep, we got the l.' We typed the o. 'Got the o?' 'Yep, got the o.' Typed the g. 'You get the g?' Crash! SRI's host crashed at that point."

They just don't make computers like they used to... unless you have a Dell.

He says that his test between UCLA and the Stanford Research Institute was the first message sent over a data connection. For those who aren't computer nerdy, this blog that you're reading, every picture you upload, every video you stream is really just a series of 01011011000110011s (sorry robots everywhere... I may have unwittingly insulted your mothers) that are sent between servers through said data connections and end up on your computer screen in little packets that we can view.

He also goes on to say he believed the internet would become a way for people to use devices and be connected at all times, but that he didn't know it would involve into the world of Twitter, Google Maps, and instant gratification that we know it as today. We've come to a point now that so many programs are put out, so many applications that in turn have so many features that we are experiencing what Kleinrock calls "feature shock." It's the reason some people are fine running Windows 95 still; they are too used to that system to try and change things, even if it does promise faster speed or more user-friendly controls.

Currently Kleinrock is working on a system that allows the cyberspace to interact with the physical world, and collect data from your house, car, living room and even your body. When asked what he thinks about computers being made smarter and if that means humans will get less brain exercise, he responded that "free us up to do the things that humans do so well, like pattern recognition and putting thoughts together, intuition and innovation." At first I thought he wasn't aware what sort of monster he had created, and if he was oblivious to the mindless drivel of reading US Weekly online or internet phenoms such as Dramatic Gopher. But he does confess that he is disappointed with today's youth and their inability to do calculations without a calculator anymore.

Like every parent's worse nightmare, the Internet grew bigger and stronger than Kleinrock ever expected, and allowed for demons the likes of spam, spyware, and identity theft to grab hold of his child. In the early days, Kleinrock says, everyone knew each other and there was a netiquette in the early stages. There also used to be a time when women were barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, and all was right with the world. Haha, just kidding folks... but seriously, where's my sammich?!

Lastly, Kleinrock states that privacy as we have come to know and love, and various amendments in the Constitution supposedly uphold, is dead. There are cameras everywhere, and I don't even mean the Big Brother kind (well not just them, at least). Every junior high school brat with a negligent parent has a camera phone now, not to mention every drunk college kid or rapping granny. Kleinrock thinks the only one can truly have privacy "is to go to the edge of the ocean, strip down and jump in and hope there's no sonar down there tracking you, by the way, which there will be soon." Well, at least in his old age he hasn't become some crackpot conspiracy theorist.

So all in all, we learned the Internet was not invented by Mr. Gore (sorry Al, I guess your lie of a Nobel Prize will have to suffice), we can no longer go to the bathroom in peace, and there are still more pornographic websites than any other kind online. But hey, one out of three ain't bad.

No comments: