Following the announcement of this years Nobel Peace Prize; Renny had an interesting post here - Nobel Peace Prize to Al Gore or Vint Cerf? I like the line of thinking and would like to extend this nomination for 2008 to also include Robert Kahn (Cerf's co-inventor) and 3 others:
(1) Sir Tim Berners-Lee -- for taking the TCP/IP and layering a powerful "human interface" on it with the sole purpose of sharing information and driving the rapid evolution we experience. But what I think is even more noble (no pun intendend) is his choice to make his invention open and free -- notable if one considers the potential for commercial gain through intellectual property rights. I think CERN his employer at the time, also deserves credit.
(2) Linus Torvalds for almost single-handedly making Open Source a model, not just for software technology innovation, but for inspiring and driving societal innovation and grass-roots development.
(3) Dr Nicholas Negroponte for his $100 computer initiative -- also known as the One Laptop Per Child project. The success of such an initiative is crucial for bridging the digital divide and helping education become a fundamental human right. The Give 1 Get 1 move could open the floodgates.
What appeals is the vision, selflessness and humanness of these individuals in creating an infrastructure needed for a grass-roots knowledge ecosystem that the world needs. These individuals also represent courage and strength in taking on the commercial giants on their own turf -- and driving change. Like Dr Negroponte convincing Intel to collaborate on the OLPC.
As an aside:
The much publicized "During my service in the United States Congress I took the initiative in creating the Internet." statement from Al Gore during the presidential election drew much fire from the media. I believe the media put a different twist causing misunderstanding and ridicule that "Al Gore claimed he invented the Internet". However, as Internet pioneers Vint Cerf & Bob Kahn set the record straight in this little known article, Al Gore does deserve some credit for making the Internet a global success.
I look forward to hearing Cerf at this years Norwegian Computer Society's annual awards event.