Today it is exactly 12 1⁄2 years ago that one of the great leaders of our world died.
I’m not thinking of some president or other official lording it over a stretch of land, but I’m thinking about one of the most humble and benevolent rulers the world has ever had, a person without whom you’d likely never be reading this, and he’d be the first to frown at the term ‘ruler’ being used in association with his name.
Today, 12 1⁄2 years ago Jon Postel died, a visionary the likes of which there are only a few in every generation. Technically accomplished and a nice human to boot, what else could you wish for in a person in a position of authority.
If you make your money online, if you are ‘connected’ using google, facebook, twitter or any one of millions of other web applications, if your life is somehow influenced by that weird and still relatively new phenomenon called the internet, then please take a minute to familiarize yourself with the story of Jon Postel, who only lived to see a small sliver of what the eventual power of the structure that he helped create would be.
At one point in his life he foresaw the future internet with more clarity than anybody else and went on to build the mechanisms that scaled over many orders of magnitude and that allow us to communicate nearly effortlessly with people all over the globe, in a near endless stream of RFC’s documenting and defining the basic protocols that form the beating heart of the internet.
He also foresaw that US domination of the root DNS servers was a bad thing and single-handedly fought to establish a more global and more responsible sharing of this resource (and he was ruthlessly overruled by a bunch of burocrats). If Jon Postel had had his way on this the internet would be a better place today without a single country dominating the control over critical infrastructure that a lot of other economies depend on too.