The Internet is not really a technology but rather a set of principles that have become embodied in a bunch of different technologies. I am going to quote at some length from a document that Cerf also co-authored about the history of the Internet:
The Internet as we now know it embodies a key underlying technical idea, namely that of open architecture networking. In this approach, the choice of any individual network technology was not dictated by a particular network architecture but rather could be selected freely by a provider and made to interwork with the other networks through a meta-level “Internetworking Architecture”
Albert Wenger discusses how the Open Architecture of the internet contributes fundamental rights and freedoms that it offers.
When we talk about “Government as a Platform”, we’re largely drawing a parallel between the architecture of government technology (and cities, more broadly) and the architecture of the Internet. The idea, described above, that an open architecture is not about any one technology, but rather about a set of principles that can be embodied by different technologies, is the key. By building around an open architecture, guided by open standards, new specific technologies can be inserted, replaced, and improved as necessary, without disrupting the overall structure. The freedom that this architecture embodies explicitly encourages innovation, by decreasing the cost of changing or improving any one component, or of adding something new on top of the system.
This all sounds a bit abstract, I’m sure, so for our part at Civic Commons, we’ll work on tying these concepts into more concrete examples.