Today at the Global INET Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, the Internet Society announced the inaugural inductees into the new Internet Hall of Fame. It's a lofty endeavor, and the first batch of inductees includes 33 undeniable geniuses. You have probably not heard of most of them.
For everything Tan Tin Wee has done for the Internet (I assume?), these aren't the people that made the rest of the world aware of its power. Put another way: The architect who designed Fenway Park isn't in Cooperstown, but Babe Ruth sure is. So here's an alternate list, a group of inductees into the real Internet Hall of Fame. These are the people who made the Internet worth coming to in the first place, and kept us clicking.
Anonymity was at the heart of the chaotic, lawless web bulletin board known as 4Chan. For years, no one even knew the identity of its founder, moot—revealed in 2008 to be Christopher Poole. His forum spawned Anonymous, lolcats, and other more unsavory memes galore.
How did Americans even discuss politics before the internet—or the Drudge Report? Matt Drudge, the unabashedly opinionated web links magnate, reinvented the way the media covers modern politics. He helped make blogging a significant source of news, and his incendiary style gave new life to the art of the headline itself. Plus, he has a cool siren.
Richard "Lowtax" Kyanka is indirectly responsible for almost everything amusing on the internet. Forever Alone? Just a distant offspring from what everyone on Something Awful—Lowtax's twisted humor website and message board—was laughing at a decade ago. Today, Lowtax still writes for the site, bans its users, and decides what you'll find funny next.
Before huge video sites hosted user-generated content, that material was filtered through portals like eBaum's World. It reflected the weird, warped minds of the people with the time and know-how to build and manage an online video destination. Eric Bauman, this site's scumbag-in-chief, would post anything—animal cruelty, violence galore, you name it—even if he didn't have the rights to post it. No matter how you felt about it, you couldn't turn away.
From the get-go, the Internet offered an unlimited variety of hot chicks to ogle. We could make an entire list of prurient pioneers who deserve to be on this list, but we chose the one who's in the record books: Cindy Margolis, the original queen of Internet hot, distinguished in 1999 for 70,000 image downloads in a 24-hour span. And that's without nudity!
When it comes to the intersection of sports and pop culture, Bill Simmons is the original. He's the editor-in-chief of Grantland, and he's built an empire on publicly flaunting his knowledge of all things athletic, and how it relates to all things Point Break. And today, it's hard to find sports writing on the web that doesn't also discuss HBO, Saved By the Bell, or 80s one-hit wonders as often as it does VORP.
Kim Dotcom is gobbling, but he's following a trail blazed by Napster's Shawn Fanning. Along with Sean Parker, Fanning made it possible for the anyone on the web-using world to download any song in existence without paying a nickel for it. And what's more Internet that not paying for stuff?
Nick Denton owns Gawker Media, which includes Gizmodo and several other influential blogs that continue to redefine contemporary journalism. He's here because, on the internet, gossip is king. And because he signs our checks. And also so we don't all get fired.
In Halo, you started out shooting other players in the same room. Then you started shooting each other over the Internet. Now, a decade later, you still can't stop logging into Xbox Live to shoot uncommonly gifted 12-year-old gamers in China at all hours of the night. Master Chief Petty Officer John-117 is the reason why.
A major reason the internet is irresistible is the raw humanity of it—real, regular, incredible people the world simply can't get enough of. Tay Zonday, an ordinary guy, has a colossal voice that could speak for everyone. Honorary mention: Star Wars Kid, Numma-Numma guy, anyone else in a video you passed around in college.
Remember how awesome Digg used to be? For a while, it was the way that people discovered new stuff on the internet. Then it went to shit. Fuck that Digg bar. Kevin Rose hasn't been able to replicate his early success, and luckily, better things have taken Digg's place.
That's our list—who did we miss?
Kevin Rose image via Brian Solis.
Tay Zonday image via TheBuiBrothers.com.
Nick Denton image via ScriptingNews/Flickr.
Lowtax image via RiffTrax.
ebaum image via eBaum's World.
Matt Drudge image via Twitter.
Master Chief image via Wikipedia.
Bill Simmons image via David Shankbone/Wikipedia.
Shawn Fanning image via Joi/Flickr.
moot image via Wikipedia.
Cindy Margolis image via Wikipedia.