Like nearly everyone else, I anxiously awaited last week’s announcement of the inaugural inductees into the Internet Hall of Fame. Scanning through the biographies of the 33 pioneers who were enshrined and cast in virtual bronze, I was shocked to discover that they were nearly all older, white men who primarily worked behind the scenes to develop various things that make the internet work. In other words, the serious business people of the internet. Besides the weird, sort-of-lulzy inclusion of Al Gore, there weren’t many people the average guy would think of including in a list of internet stars. While I’m all for recognizing the innovators in technology who have made, and continue to make, the infrastructure of the internet what it is, let’s be honest: The Internet Hall of Fame is pretty boring.
Mostly missing from the Hall are the people who actually produce content and interact online. An analogy that seems apt would be a Baseball Hall of Fame with no players in it. A Hall of Fame for team owners, managers, stadium architects, rule makers, bat designers, and the guy who first put a soft pretzel on a stick. In other words: no one who is or was regularly visible, actually plays the game, and makes it memorable and fun for spectators.
In this shrine everything is serious and solemn, which is illustrated by the urbane biographies and by using sophisticated black and white photos of the revered honorees.
The lack of content creators and people who actually interact online seems like a pretty big omission for a hall of fame, however. Elevating someone who videotapes cats and posts them on youtube to the same level of these hard-working innovators with advanced degrees may indeed be unfair to the latter, but, hey, that kind of leveling is how the internet works, right? And it is an internet hall of fame, no?
Perhaps this omission is due to the nature of The Internet Society (the secret brotherhood behind The Internet Hall of Fame) itself, but it is also true that such a list will be highly subjective and based on what online venues one frequents. Thus it’s hard to put together such a list with any confidence of people agreeing with you. But that’s pretty much true of any “best of” list, and . . . wait . . . isn’t posting an opinion, educated or not, and watching people alternately pat you on the back or disagree, flame, and troll it the very model of internet interactions? Do The Internet Hall of Fame’s creators dislike how the internet actually works or are they just positioning themselves above the rest of us?
So, I’m wondering who else, based on their contributions to the internet, belongs in an internet hall of fame? One that would feel less stodgy and yawn-inducing . . and try to balance out all the old white dudes? Here’s a few possible candidates, rendered in sophisticated black and white:
How about Tom? After all, he was the groundbreaker for social networking (does anyone remember the people behind Tribe or Friendster? Live Journal?), and for years, he was pretty much every thirteen year-old’s first online friend (yeah, that’s a bit creepy):
To follow Tom, here’s another old-timey, legendary internet persona you might include. Maddox hasn’t done anything really different with his site since like 1997, which makes him Craig Newmark on steroids or something:
Also from way back, Tila was the original friend-hoarding, pseudo-celebrity who still tries to remain relevant:
Then there’s Maru, who has entertained more people than anyone ever who isn’t in porn. Though some may object as he’s a cat and all:
Sherrod (aka girlvinyl) of Encyclopedia Dramatica, Live Journal, a bunch of drama, and lots of other stuff should be in there, right?
This Chris Poole guy not only builds things, but he also interacts with his community/fanbase:
I’m sure some of you guys would include Miss Hannah Minx:
Perez is a legend and pretty much invented blogging as most people know it. He’s also got all cut and buff recently (and, according to my editor, has something odd going on with his nipples in this pic; I hadn’t noticed).
Napster should get it’s own entry, but let’s say “that Napster Kid” since we should stick to actual living beings and he is still moving behind the scenes on some websites or something:
Okay, so that’s 9 you might add to round out the inductees to a nice, even 42 (I was tempted to shoehorn one more to get to 43). But there’s still too little diversity and lulz. Who else might you make a case for?