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Hauben: Role of Government-Science Interface in Development ofInternet

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Date: Fri, 11 Jun 1999 20:46:34 -0400 (EDT)
From: (Ronda Hauben)
Subject:  Role of Government-Science Interface in Development of Internet

On the Need for Research and Support for Research on

  the Role of Government and of Science in the 
     Development of the Internet

I have been finding some interesting material in my efforts
to study the role of government in the U.S. in the creation 
of the Internet.  In the process I found that there was 
an important set of interviews documenting the experiences 
of the computer scientists who were part of the Information 
Processing Techniques Office (IPTO) and of those in the 
research community they helped to create during the 1962-1986 

This work has set a basis for more serious study and 
research about the IPTO research community.

A recent experience with a Foundation, however, has made 
it clear that finding a source of support for such 
research work related to the Internet and the role of 
government in building the Internet is not going to be easy.

This experience has confirmed for me that in a time of 
neoliberalism, it will be difficult to get support for 
research into how a successful scientist-government 
interface creating a new kind of institution within 
government (rather than the so called "market") has 
been the basis for a number of the important computer 
science advances of our times. 

Such research needs to be done as it helps to unveil 
the mythology being created about the "market" and its
virtues and instead helps to make more widely known what
the real experience is that has helped to create the 
technological and scientific breakthroughs making such
an impact on society today.

It is interesting to note that in the past it has taken 
serious efforts of many people and the use of government 
procedures like Congressional hearings (in the experience
in the U.S.) to explore the problems that exist when 
trying to have a good interface between government and 
science. The result of such efforts in the U.S. was a 
very special government entity which came to be known 
as the ARPA Information Processing Techniques Office 
or IPTO.

My proposal has to do with studying the interface and 
interrelationship between the ARPA IPTO director and 
program managers and the IPTO computer science research 
community that they helped to create and support.

I wondered if anyone has suggestions of a Foundation or 
other mechanism of finding funding to support doing such 

Such work will provide important lessons about how to 
build the needed government-science institutions that 
will make it possible for the Internet to continue to 
grow and flourish.

Following is a an excerpt from  my proposal. I welcome comments or
suggestions on how to further pursue support for this research topic.
(Also this topic would benefit from being done in collaboration
with researchers in other countries studying the role of 
government and science in their nations in developing the Internet)

                    Research Proposal:
     A Study of the IPTO Computer Science Research Community
     A number of books and articles about the Internet and the 
important computer developments of our time refer to the 
Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO) at the Advanced 
Research Projects Agency (ARPA) within the U.S. Department of 
Defense (DOD). This office of ARPA was created in 1962 and it 
continued to make important contributions to computer science 
development in the U.S. and the world until it was ended in 1986.  
Yet very little is known about the office and its development. 
     Under IPTO's direction computing went from batch processing 
to interactive computing, graphic capabilities of computers were 
revolutionized, packet switching was developed into the ARPANET 
which spread around the U.S., the field of artificial 
intelligence (AI) led to important breakthroughs in robotics, 
expert systems and identifying other important capabilities 
of computers, and the Internet protocol TCP/IP was created and 
led to an internetwork of networks which spread round the world. 
These are only a few of the outstanding computer science 
achievements which occurred under the leadership of this 
office. Yet there has been little research study and attention 
paid to the role of this office as an institution within 
government and to the interactions with the computer science 
research community that it helped to create and which in turn 
provided the needed input for its leadership.
     Very few books or articles even refer to this topic. The one 
book that has been written "Transforming Computer Technology" by 
Arthur Norberg and Judy O'Neill (Baltimore, 1996) focuses on the 
technological accomplishments under this office, rather than on 
the institutional processes that made these technological 
accomplishments possible.
     There are, however, a series of interviews of the IPTO 
research community done by the Charles Babbage Institute and 
funded by the IPTO before it was ended. I am interested in 
studying these interviews to explore what it is possible to learn 
about the role of the IPTO in supporting and giving leadership to 
make possible these important computer science breakthroughs. I 
am interested in the role of government and the role of the 
computer science research community and the interface between 
them to make computer science leaps possible.
     I have done some preliminary research which clarifies the 
serious considerations given to how to interface scientists and 
government which was carried out in the 1950's and which prepared 
the way for the creation of ARPA. I want to explore the 
additional insight that can be gained from the experience of IPTO 
in creating an appropriate interface between science and 
government. Also the ARPANET and then the Internet helped to 
provide a broader set of input and communication for the IPTO 
after they were created by this office. I want to look at how the 
developing network impacted the work at IPTO. There is at least 
one mailing list archives I have access to which will make it 
possible to pursue this question....


Thanks for any help with this.


                 Netizens: On the History and Impact
                     of Usenet and the Internet
             Published by the IEEE Computer Society Press
                      ISBN # 0-8186-7706-6