According to Wired, “‘The internet’ is in the running for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.(read)” Reading on, turns out Wired Italy has championed the cause.
The argument is not without some interesting thoughts. The internet’s enabling 220,000 tweets/hour during the Tehran, Iran, riots is one example. The ability to unlock information that would otherwise be censored another. The internet has brought us capability we had never seen before in the Age of Man. Certainly if the collective achievements of the internet could be singularly attributed to a person, or even a small handful, it would seem warranted.
But. The internet in many ways is the contemporary equivalent of the telephone. The same pro/con arguments can generally be applied for both internet and telephone. The telephone did not win a NBP that I’m aware of, should the internet?
At what point do we all stop capitalizing ‘it’? We do not capitalize every reference to the phone, cable, fax, or other significant technology development. The internet has always been a utility no different than our home’s electrical service. Novel at first, for sure, but no less a utility once it matured. Should a utility service be given a Novel Peace Prize? I nominate the electrical power grid first, in that case. No electricity, no internet.
The value of the internet exists because of the value each of us imparts to it. Without you, without me, the internet is nothingness. Like a forest, if no one is there to hear a tree fall, did it ever make a noise? In the internet’s case the answer is certainly, No.
The most clear answer though is already predetermined by Alfred Nobel himself. Directly excerpted from his Will, which laid out the underpinnings of the Peace Prize bearing his name:
-) One part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery or invention within the field of physics;
-) One part to the person who shall have made the most important chemical discovery or improvement;
-) One part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery within the domain of physiology or medicine;
-) One part to the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction; and,
-) One part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.
One might argue, “…but things change. Surely Al would understand…” In response, he could have allowed for electricity, steam power, electric light, cement, sewing machine (now, where’d we be without that), the telephone (1876), or any number of other important innovations prior to his death.
But, he didn’t.
I believe, and Alfred Nobel clearly stated, it is the -people- and how they employ their minds, their tools, their innovations, that deserve the Nobel Peace Prize. Does the internet deserve the NBP. No.