The Norwegian Nobel Institute yesterday announced there are 237 nominees for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. Though the the institute doesn't normally disclose who made the list, an official did confirm to Computerworld that it includes the Internet.
That's right. The Internet was nominated for the illustrious prize by the Italian edition of Wired magazine, according to the institute.
Geir Lundestad, director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, told Computerworld that while the Nobel Institute does not officially identify who or what was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, he did acknowledge that the Internet's nomination has become widely known.
Lundestad added that Riccardo Luna, editor-in-chief of the Italian edition of Wired nominated the Internet for the prize.
The 237 nominees, including 38 organizations, are part of the largest group to vie for the annual prize.
"It is easy to be nominated, difficult to win the prize," Lundestad said.
Luna last November told Wired that the Internet is a major tool for peace, citing its role in delivering news from within Iran during a tumultuous election last spring, and how it can be used to spread otherwise censored information.
The nomination of the Internet surprised veteran industry observers.
"Given the Internet isn't a legal entity, it's very surprising," said Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group. "This would be like putting Mother Earth or the ocean up for the prize and likely would indicate that the Nobel Prize process needs to be rethought. The point of the prize is to encourage good works. I doubt 'the Internet' can be motivated by financial awards even of you could figure out a way to give it the money. Maybe they could buy it some of those new Cisco high speed routers?."
Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, said he's not even convinced that the Internet is a major contributor to peace.
"It's not clear that the Internet is a net contributor to peace," he added. "And, if they think so, they could give the award to the few people who were critical to its invention. It's a major recruiting tool for terrorists. It helps disseminate hate speech. You could say it encourages abusive speech and depersonalization."
Enderle said the Internet is neither good nor evil. It's all in how it's used.
"The Internet makes both good and evil things possible," added Enderle. "It is up to the people to make the choice. This award should likely go to those people who made the correct one. Ideally, in this case, someone should be identified who used the Internet to foster peace and they should get the award."
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.