Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the we-invented-comments dept

Following the death of Ray Tomlinson, we were disappointed but not entirely surprised to see Shiva Ayyadurai pipe up again with his ludicrous claims of having invented email — and many of our top comments this week come in response to that story. In first place on the insightful side, we’ve got Kalean responding specifically to the notion that not crediting Ayyadurai is racist, considering the team with a much better claim to the title:

If you’re looking at RFC 561, you’ll find that it’s also credited to Abhay Bhushan, an Indian fellow that happens to be the author of FTP.

But I’m sure it’s still racist, somehow.

In second place, we’ve got Mason Wheeler pointing out that Ray Tomlinson’s own attitude about email bore the mark of a true innovator:

Many referred to him as the “inventor of email” even though Tomlinson himself had long insisted that was not true either. Instead, he (unlike Ayyaudurai) long admitted that the growth and success of email involved many people working in pieces, building on each other’s work successfully to build out the tool that we all use today. Still, Tomlinson actually does deserve tremendous credit for making email what it is today.

“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” This has always been the truth in real progress. Some people, like Isaac Newton and Ray Tomlinson, are even honest enough to admit it.

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, we’ll remain on that post for one more comment. Though Tomlinson himself was modest, Rich Kulawiec offers plenty of praise:

Ray did more than just work on email

Let me quote Craig Partridge (another long-time key contributor to the Internet):

“Ray Tomlinson had been at BBN since 1967. He?s best known for inventing the concept of sending email over a computer network and choosing the @ sign as the way to split the mailbox name from the host name. But that?s a fraction of his amazing contributions to our field. Ray was one of a four person team that created TENEX, the first operating system to support virtual memory using paging. He wrote one of the first implementations of TCP and, when he found data being duplicated in the received stream, devised methods to ensure that sequence numbers were not duplicated that remain fundamental to TCP/IP implementations today. He worked on the first object-oriented distributed system and early multimedia email systems. And I’m sure I’m forgetting at least half a dozen other ways Ray made our world better.”

Let me also quote Vint Cerf, whose name I presume everyone here knows:

“I knew and worked with Ray Tomlinson during the development of the ARPANET and its host protocols and benefited, as have billions, from his seminal work on networked electronic email. More important, from my personal perspective, was his work with Bill Plummer on the first PDP-10 TENEX implementation of TCP (and later TCP/IP). In 1975, he discovered that the TCP as specified in December 1974 had flaws that led it to fail to detect duplicate packets and, together with Yogen Dalal, developed the three-way handshake and initial sequence number selection method to solve this problem. As Craig Partridge summarizes, Ray was a long-time and creative contributor to the Internet, operating systems, and many other highly practical applications in the computer science and communications domains. He was a self-effacing and humble man and extraordinary performer in our online world. I will miss his thoughtful, low-key and always helpful counsel.”

Ray left a legacy of a long, LONG line of developments and innovations. Perhaps the biggest tribute to what he did is that so much of it just works — even today — without anyone having to think much about it. (Your operating system, at the behest of your web browser, just did the three-way TCP handshake referred to above so that you could read this page.) And yet he so often demurred when folks tried to give him credit, preferring to cast himself just one of many building on each others’ work.

Which, mostly, he was, as are nearly all of us. But there is no doubt in mind that he came up with the concept of networked email. His fingerprints are all over it, and it fits right in with the rest of his extensive history: in order words, it’s exactly the sort of thing Ray would do. And did, many many times.

And to Shiva Ayyadura: how DARE you use the sad occasion of Ray’s death to engage in even more self-aggrandizing fabricated PR. That’s not only bullshit, it’s vile.

Next, we’ll depart temporarily from that topic and head to the story of Nook’s withdrawal from the UK and the implications of that when all their books are saddled with DRM. TechDescartes pointed out that Barnes & Noble’s response really strains to cast things in a positive light:

Spin Dept.

?to ensure that you have continued access to the vast majority of your purchased NOOK Books at no new cost to you?

They try to make it sounded like they are working on a feature—not fixing a bug.

Over on the funny side, we head straight back to the post about Shiva Ayyadurai for one last comment. This time it’s from an anonymous commenter who scored high on the insightful side as well by wrapping everything up in an analogy:

Claiming to have invented email is like claiming to be the first person to have discovered masturbation. You may not have needed any help – but you can rest assured somebody beat you to it.

In second place for funny, we’ve got a response to the Senator Dianne Feinstein’s recent revival of the idea that tech companies are providing “material support” to terrorists who use their sites. AricTheRed sought out the other edge to that sword:

Di Fi provides material support for terrorisim

As she has been representing the San Bernardino shooters in the Senate for years, it appears she has been providing material support too.

Don’t think that is going to be the outcome she was expecting…

For editor’s choice on the funny side, we start out with a comment from TheResidentSkeptic, who assuaged our fears over Apple being forced to release and share its unlocking software for the iPhone:

No reason to panic..

..we’ll just pass a law making illegal for bad guys to have a copy.

And finally, having just been told not to panic, we have an appropriate followup. This week we asked of France: “why do citizens in these countries continue to allow ignorant scared people to make such blatantly bad rules?” But in truth that sentiment can be near universally applied, and kallethen offered an answer from a late, great satirist:

I think Douglas Adams put it best.

“So,” said Arthur, hoping he wasn’t sounding ridiculously obtuse, “why don’t people get rid of the lizards?”
“It honestly doesn’t occur to them,” said Ford. “They’ve all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they’ve voted in more or less approximates to the government they want.”
“You mean they actually vote for the lizards?”
“Oh yes,” said Ford with a shrug, “of course.”
“But,” said Arthur, going for the big one again, “why?”
“Because if they didn’t vote for a lizard,” said Ford, “the wrong lizard might get in. Got any gin?”

(Mind you, the same would be true of my own government…)

Of course, I can think of another way of putting that, from another satirical giant:

That’s all for this week, folks!

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