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Great minds think alike

October 28th, 2002

Tim Dunlop and I think alike so often we could be used as an experimental test of telepathy, or, for the more prosaic, of Merton’s theory of multiple discoveries. I regularly start work on a post only to find that Tim’s already written it, and I think the same may be true in reverse. My review of Baumol’s The Free-Market Innovation Machine, soon to be published at The Drawing Board, makes the point that

‘the Internet [was] a technological innovation created almost entirely by the public sector. The architecture of the Internet was set up with seed money from the US department of Defence, the network was built by the universities, and the World Wide Web was a gift from CERN, a physics research lab in Switzerland. The only significant private contribution was Unix, the last important piece of public good research done by Bell Labs before its effective demise.’

And here’s Tim:

[the] Internet was itself the product, not just of government regulation, but of public finance, research and expertise. It was then further “regulation”, under the influence of industry lobbying, that allowed it to move into the private sphere to the extent that it has, and which I presume Bargraz(sic) approves of.

. Tim’s argument elicits the counter from the redoubtable detective that ‘Tim’s presuming that I prefer privatisation over regulation. No so’, which is encouraging.
Of course, the fact that the Internet is a creation of the public sector is well-known except to those whose knowledge dates from after 1997, and to the writers at Wired, who presumably once knew, but have now forgotten. Still the coincidence between me and Tim is striking, especially in the light of another post in which Tim notes the failure of the other Tim (Blair) to link to any Australian blogs. This anticipates a new way of classifying Oz blogs which I was about to announce with great fanfare and will soon announce anyway without so much fanfare.

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