Saturday, November 5, 2005 - The Progress & Freedom Foundation Blog

Medals of Freedom to Cerf and Kahn

In a truly deserving move, the President will bestow the Presidential Medal of Freedom on CNRI's Bob Kahn and Google's Vint Cerf. The two inventors of TCP/IP protocol have had and will have as profound an impact on the world as anyone of their generation.

Both Kahn's and Cerf's respective generousity and humility is what I found quite remarkable. ("Look, I have met famous Internet founders!" he not-so-subtly points out.)

Bob Kahn attended our Aspen Summit in 2004, and he also spoke at a PFF CEO Luncheon last January. His discussion of digital object architecture at the luncheon still indicates he is thinking 20 years into a future he sees, but we can barely imagine. A truly deserving recipient of the nation's recognition.

Separately, I met Vint Cerf about 7 years ago while he was at MCI, and on one of his obligatory "let's take our Internet founder celebrity to meet the state regulators tour." I figured MCI and Cerf were being generous with their time, and a chance like this didn't come to me everyday. So, I invited Phil Weiser down from CU Boulder and we cornered Cerf for a few hours talking about the policy issues current at that time, and goading him into reminiscing about his DARPA days. It was a true delight, and only slightly selfish. What I found remarkable was his genuine and dispassionate interest in the policy issues then in play -- unbundling, pricing and the like. He wasn't there to spout the company line, and seemed interested in thinking about the issues for himself.

Plus, both Kahn and Cerf were both patient and indulgent of my doubtlessly sometimes fatuous questions. Neither one pulled the "you were still in diapers when I invented the Internet protocols" rank (which is pretty close to being true, actually); nor did they accompany their oftentimes firm and definite opinions with the rancor or ideological smugness of so many in the Internet policy space. Graceful souls both. Congratulations, and a fine decision by the President to bestow the honor on these two.

posted by Ray Gifford @ 1:11 AM | Internet