When ISOC told me about this, I spent con­sid­er­able time being hon­ored and con­sid­er­able time being awed about being in this par­tic­u­lar com­pa­ny. When many of the peo­ple in this room were begin­ning to lay the ground­work for the net­work in the 60s, I was work­ing as a polit­i­cal sci­en­tist and wor­ry­ing about com­mu­ni­ca­tions pat­terns and how those worked. And I was work­ing with and for a guy name of Ithiel de Sola Pool, who among his many con­tri­bu­tions was co-responsible for the the­o­ry of con­tact net­works, which we seem to have done some things about in recent years.

So we were think­ing about com­mu­ni­ca­tions, and com­mu­ni­ca­tions among peo­ple, and how that would affect things. And we even got to think in the late 60s about what we would do as a human pop­u­la­tion with an inter­galac­tic net­work. And inter­na­tion­al­iza­tion turns out to be easy once you start wor­ry­ing about how to deal with a Martian char­ac­ter set. Or a Martian lan­guage, or for that mat­ter a Martian.

So we were spec­u­lat­ing on those sorts of things, and I guess I had more insight then into where this would end up than I’ve had most of the years in between. But we thought we under­stood a lot of where this was head­ed and there were a num­ber of areas in which we were right. And var­i­ous in which we weren’t.

In 1968, Ithiel and Jay Licklider began putting togeth­er a project to try to make advances in com­put­ing the social sci­ences to par­al­lel the advances which were per­ceived to have occurred in the phys­i­cal sci­ences a few years ear­li­er. And we start­ed sys­tem build­ing.

And then Lick men­tioned that there was this net­work thing which was start­ing to get built. And he was very con­cerned that we get some appli­ca­tions on it ear­ly and we start wor­ry­ing about what the appli­ca­tions of that net­work ought to be, because you know…networks are real­ly inter­est­ing, but unless you use them for some­thing—…

So, I get drawn in to some ear­ly exper­i­ments. And one of the rea­sons why I was pleased and aston­ished by this award is that Vint took me aside in the ear­ly 70s, and said, Wouldn’t you real­ly like to be work­ing on the net­work devel­op­ment instead?”

And I said, Well, you know I’m real­ly inter­est­ed in appli­ca­tions of what you use the things for.”

And Lick said, Well, okay.” And this con­ver­sa­tion got repeat­ed a num­ber of times over the next sev­er­al years. And dur­ing most of those con­ver­sa­tions, Lick end­ed by say­ing, You know that if you sit on the appli­ca­tion side, you are nev­er going to get any respect from the peo­ple that build net­works.”

So I’m extreme­ly hon­ored and pleased to report one of extreme­ly few areas in which Lick was wrong. And thank you all very much.

Help Support Open Transcripts

If you found this useful or interesting, please consider supporting the project monthly at Patreon or once via Square Cash, or even just sharing the link. Thanks.