January 15, 2008


Mark Fortner, an open source web developer who blogs at IdeaFactory, has stumbled upon a potentially useful new analytical construct for historians. In a post entitled “WTF Moments in Java History”, Fortner introduces the concept of the “WTF moment” in which contemporary observers and later analysts of historic events can only exclaim “WTF.” He writes:

History is littered with WTF moments — the last election, the day Al Gore invented the internet, and the day I learned that teen aged dinosaurs had been having sex. The History of Java development is littered with such moments.

Unless you’re a hard-core Java geek, you many not find the rest of Fortner’s post particularly interesting. And I’m sort of joking that the “WTF moment” could really be useful to practicing historians. Nevertheless, I do think Fortner is on to something. At the very least, he has put his finger on one way by which ordinary people remember the past.


  1. Al Gore never said that he invented the Internet. In fact, he did play a very key role in *creating* the Internet. I find it very ironic that this myth is being perpetuated on this particular site.

  2. Thanks, Chris. Allow me to explain. The statement about Al Gore is quoted from another source. I do not make any claims about its truth or falsehood. I am not saying Mr. Fortner is correct or incorrect in any of his interpretations (about Al Gore, Java, etc.) I’m simply interested in the way he phrased his comments. Thanks for reading. –Tom

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