Category: Optimist and utopian


Optimist and utopian

‘Optimist and utopian’.

The archive’s mission of creating “universal access to all knowledge” would appear to be a Sisyphean task at best, as well as a venture that’s not going to bring the 51-year-old entrepreneur and Internet pioneer the kind of money that would make a Mark Zuckerberg envious.

But Kahle isn’t motivated by the pursuit of money – he says he already has “plenty of that” from previous ventures, including Alexa Internet, a Web information company that Amazon.com bought for a reported $250 million in 1999.

He’s also earned plenty of accolades – in April, he was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame, an online-only hall established by the Internet Society of Reston, Va. He was part of an inaugural class that included tech luminaries Vint Cerf, Robert Kahn and Charles Herzfeld.

His real reward, he says, is creating a place for researchers – and anyone else with a curious mind and a thirst for knowledge – to have unfet-tered access to the fleeting cultural artifacts of the Internet age. The “optimist and utopian” in him believes his “Library of Alexandria, Version 2” ultimately will make the world a better place.

“It’s really meant to be a resource where you can come up with your own ideas,” he said. “We want people to think deeper and then create new things that are worthy of putting in the library.”
Computerized church

Kahle, a tall, balding, slightly rumpled-looking fellow, has been married for 20 years. His wife, Mary Austin, is co-founder of the San Francisco Center for the Book, a strictly analog venture that teaches classic bookbinding and letterpress techniques. They live near the archive in the Presidio and have two sons, Caslon, 18, (named for the Caslon typeface) and Logan, 15.