Origins of the Internet: Berners-Lee. Borges?

Borges with groupies

Most people involved in technology are familiar with Tim Berners-Lee and his role in pioneering the internet. But what about another three name genius: Jorge Luis Borges?

I first heard of Borges as a Latin American literary juggernaut, which prompted me to purchase the Penguin anthology. Inside the cover I noticed a quote by Umberto Eco.

Though so different in style, two writers have offered us an image for the next millenium: Joyce and Borges. The first designed with words what the second designed with ideas: the original, the one and only World Wide Web. The Real Thing. The rest will remain simply virtual.


I think Borges would be grinning tonight. Instead of writing a well-structured piece on his various works and how prophetic they were, I instead thought I would be productive and begin to hyperlink ‘Tim Berners-Lee’ to his Wikipedia page, which led me to read about the internet, internet founders, ‘internet vigilantism,’ back to internet pioneers, and the Berners-Lee salute at the 2012 Olympics. Then I thought I would be clever and hyperlink ‘The Real Thing’ from Eco’s quote above to a Faith No More YouTube video. But then I couldn’t find the real music video, so I watched a performance from the 1990 MTV music awards, then a clip of the band performing ‘Midlife Crisis,’ then I decided I needed to listen to them of Spotify, and then I was too tired to write a quality post.

Summer was drawing to a close, and I realized that the book was monstrous. It was cold consolation to think that I, who looked upon it with my eyes and fondled it with my flesh-and-bone fingers, was no less monstrous than the book. I felt it was a nightmare thing, an obscene thing, and that it defiled and corrupted reality.

—Borges, from The Book of Sand


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