Even if he hadn’t founded the Internet Archive, Brewster Kahle – the co-founder of Alexa and Thinking Machines – would still be a first-round inductee in the Internet Hall Of Fame. But with the Internet Archive, Kahle has established himself in the pantheon of the true greats of the Internet. The Internet Archive stands as the web’s largest library, with 3 million users every day. It houses two million books and has collected two petabytes of data just in the last couple of months.
But Kahle still isn’t satisfied. He wants to collect everything – every book, every movie, every song, every webpage, every newspaper – in his digital library. That’s because, he told me, we need a counter to what he calls the “Orwellian world” of big government. And Kahle has a long track record of distrust in what he calls “downright creepy” government. Five years ago, he stood up to the FBI in their request for information about somebody who had visited the Archive. But Kahle actually lived to tell his tale – winning a court case against the government which allows him now to talk publicly about the case.
The best thing about the web, Kahle told me, is that it proves that people don’t only do things for money. And with his non-profit Internet Archive, Brewster Kahle epitomizes the spirit of the web’s true founders – guys like Tim Berners-Lee and Vint Cerf – who were interested in making the world a better place rather than just making a fast buck.