Al Gore can no longer justify his claim to have invented the Internet, as we now know the proper credit goes to 1960s counterculture icon and LSD advocate Timothy Leary. Or at least Leary accurately predicted what the Internet is currently on the edge of becoming:
At the 1977 Libertarian Party Convention, mind-expansion advocate and LSD guru Timothy Leary gave a speech that few of us took very seriously. He spoke of something called the Internet, a network that would connect computers worldwide, allowing participants from around the globe to sign on and retrieve text, photographs, audio and video instantaneously, and to communicate in realtime with anyone in the whole world who also had a computer and a connection. He said that it would be the new revolution against the current social order and stifling status quo. He predicted it would be much, much bigger than drugs in its ability to overthrow the establishment. Whereas tuning in, turning on and dropping out had been of great interest to a somewhat narrow subset of the population, everyone would be able to use the Internet, in his own way, and thus the new revolution against the old order would transcend class, age, nationality and all other demographics. The bourgeois would have just as much interest and use for it as the so-called counterculture. And nothing would ever again be the same.
As I said, no one at the time really believed it. We figured Leary had just done a little too much acid and his imagination had gotten the best of him. The network of information he described seemed totally impossible — and yet it exists, precisely as he predicted it, right now.
As an outspoken advocate of using the Internet to create significant and meaningful political change, I find his speech perhaps the best I have ever heard or read on the topic. He provides a compelling argument that the Internet is truly “libertarianism in action” and provides examples from E-Bay, PayPal, Google, Adobe, and Wikipedia to prove his point.
If you will pop back to HoT a bit later today, I’ll try to add a bit more to this review and fill in some relevant historical detail. In the meantime, I’d strongly recommend reading Garris’s article.
UPDATE: Part Two is posted here.