How to internet 25 years ago

1 min video sound
#video #internet
Karl Auerbach diaspora
In our history of the Internet series our end date is 1995. A lot happened before that. Circa 1995 was the start of the World Wide Web.

By that date (1996) I had started five Internet companies, been merged into Cisco (first time of two), and published two full Internet Standard RFCs. ;-)
Whuffo diaspora
1995 was when the web got turned over to commercial interests. Prior to that it was a quite different place; I got my start online back in the DARPANET days. I remember connecting over a modem using Trumpet winsock on Windows 3.1 and the Mosaic browser. My first web page went live in about 1988.
Karl Auerbach diaspora
@Whuffo - You sure about that 1988 date? Tim B-L didn't present HTTP to the IETF until the 1992 meeting in San Diego and Mosaic wasn't released until 1993. (We first fired it up in the Interop NOC in San Francisco around that time.) I remember that San Diego IETF meeting quite well, there was an Americas Cup going on outside the hotel, my subject (network management) was being fought over tooth and nail, and I got bored with the presentation about the web idea, thinking it had no future. ;-)

BTW, in the photo it looks like a Hayes style modem. A lot of us were using Telebit ones that ran a whole lot faster, especially for UUCP.
grin ✅ diaspora
The first webpage was created by Ramses III, I read on the internet! ;-)

95? Yeah, I had my own internet company back then but we still used FidoNet for serious stuff. But modems were darn fast those days, with all the HST, ZyXel 19k2 and v.34; we started BBS and Fido around 90 on 1200 [bps, not baud] and later 2400MNP5. The modem on the photo looks modern [slim] but the large connector suggests otherwise; I can't recall the US-Robotics shape anymore.
grin ✅ diaspora
Oh my second internet company (which was using pre-docsis cabletv) in 97 sat on a 64kbps uplink with 100+ users. We haven't really got the bandwidth around... (It was still faster than Bitnet in 90s where we used a talk session with 50 seconds round trip time between Hungary and the United Kingdom of Great Britain. :-))
Adam Hunt diaspora
LOL, I was on a military predecessor to to the internet in 1988! All text, no pix, but we had email and chat, although it was called "computer telephone".
grin ✅ diaspora
We first had connectivity at the universities here around 1990, I guess it's been 9600 bps to "western europe" first, and I think it has been Bitnet but I wasn't there yet. I was writing a system (based on BBS tech) for my bachelors' final to exchange electronic mail using batch processing, phone modems and automated means for a company with 3-4 offices around Hungary, while ran my own FidoNet node. I guess internet (the "real" one) has come after 91-92. And we still were behind COCOM and the iron(y) courtain.
Whuffo diaspora
@Karl Auerbach That's why I said "about 1988". I'm having trouble placing the date accurately and it may have been as late as 92. The Mosaic browser I used was beta code - and my first web page was written in QEdit. I checked the Wayback Machine to see if they had a copy but there's nothing before 2001 available for that domain name.
Adam Hunt diaspora
I should have added that in 1988 it was all fibre optic, too, not dial-up!
In 1995, I climbed trees and played in my sandbox. Never thought about something like the Internet would be a thing in the future. Never thought about computers would ever become mainstream. I heard about something called the "cyberspace" , but I had no idea about what that means, probably some science fiction stuff. In fact, I thought computers were huge, talking and intelligent machines that are exclusively used by scientists and people doing James Bond stuff.
grin ✅ diaspora
@Adam Hunt fiber? In 1993 I have translated an article (from George Gilder, reposted in FidoNews) about something called "dark fiber", which was kind of sci-fi then and there. I think fiber was about 10 years away then, and dark fiber even more.
I actually have my email in the document: p1f15n370z2@gw1-x203.uibk.ac.at - using a Fidonet - Internet gateway.

While it's shocking to see that Gibson wrote Neuromancer in 1984 (and Stephenson his Snow Crash in 1992), both using concepts way before they've actually happened.
Adam Hunt diaspora
Yeah it was all military then!
Karl Auerbach diaspora
By-the-way, here's the video trailer for our paused project on the history of the internet 1965-1995:

Karl Auerbach diaspora
@Adam Hunt - The net was never really purely military. Since I was working for the Joint Chiefs and various 3-letter agencies the parts I touched were most definitely military, but there were other parts that were private or mixed.

One of the first private parts was The Little Garden - named after the Chinese restaurant in Palo Alto where we met over lunch to form it. And there were lots of pieces that came together that ran on various protocols, such as MFEnet, BARRnet, etc etc.

We started the Interop show networks in 1988 (actually in 1987 but it wasn't called Interop). Here's a link to a few photos I took from our 1989 effort. And there's a link in there to our 1993 handout, which can be interesting.

Interop 1989
Adam Hunt diaspora
Ah, this started out as a dedicated military network, closed to the outside world.
@Adam Hunt When it was #ARPA Net it was an information exchange network. :-) But nowadays it is more commercialized ... unfortunately. Without #uBlock I won't surf anymore.
Whuffo diaspora
@Adam Hunt That's a little before my time, but the network was only 8 nodes when I first got on it and it was a DARPA network used for research. It wasn't as much closed to the outside world as it was hidden behind some very expensive hardware; mere mortals couldn't afford the price of admission. You needed a mainframe with an IMP and a TIP and those things were incredibly pricey.
Adam Hunt diaspora
Ah this was a Canadian military network, only joined some HQs and used only mainframes.
Karl Auerbach diaspora
@Adam Hunt - I was at SDC in Santa Monica. Maps show that we had an IMP (but I never saw it); there were ARPAnet nodes over at UCLA (where I also worked) and at RAND just down the street. These were not particularly secret or locked up and were accessible to students of professors such as Lenny Kleinrock. I was part of the UCLA Computer club and we considered dropping IMP #1 off the top of Boelter Hall to test whether it was truly "ruggedized".

The ARPAnet was melded into the various academic networks, such as Bitnet and CSnet. Those didn't necessarily run IP or TCP until later on. The whole collision of the ARPAnet, NSFnet, and the academic networks is very complicated. I've video interviewed a lot of the people involved, but those are still sitting on several archived disks (and several copies of each of those.)
grin ✅ diaspora
I need a bookmark feature NOW!!
Whuffo diaspora
The IMP (Internetwork Message Processor) was a half-height rack cabinet, dark grey in color. It was usually located close to the TIP (Telephone Interface Processor) which had a modified telephone mounted on the top. The TIP was the same size, but light gray instead.
Karl Auerbach diaspora
IMP #1 at UCLA was more of a tan color. It was taller than me with big lifting hooks on top. Here’s a photo taken with Kleinrock and my friend/colleague Steve Casner, who I worked with to build one of the early network video companies starting in 1995. (When I was at UCLA I worked in the room next door down the hall.)
enter image description here
Karl Auerbach diaspora
By-the-way, back in the 1970's one of the consultants to my group at SDC was Vint Cert. (Another what Whit Diffie before his public key invention.) Vint and I worked late on the night of Dec 31, 1974 - yes, New Years Eve! - on the notion of splitting the then monolithic TCP proposal into a top transport and lower datagram layer, with a security/crypto layer in the middle, i.e. something much like today's IPSEC. Unfortunately our work was hidden under layers of gov't secrecy and paranoia: enter link description here
Whuffo diaspora
That's quite different than the one at Utah. That one looks like shipboard equipment, the one we had was in a ordinary rack cabinet.
grin ✅ diaspora
@Karl Auerbach “This computer networking article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.” ;-)
Karl Auerbach diaspora
@grin ✅ - Several of us would like to fill in the article. And the article that actually had some content (and is referenced from the wikipedia page) has vanished.

However, once one works for a three-letter agency between DC and Baltimore one gets a life-long fear of ever saying anything. I was nearly slapped with lifetime travel restrictions because I wrote an technical correspondence letter to Communications of the ACM about network security and used 100% open, unclassified sources. The spook agency did not like that I had done that. I swore off ever working on classified materials after that.

So all of us who worked on that kind of thing are still being quiet about it, even more than 45 years later. It was a sad thing that we had to be quiet. We invented a lot of stuff that had to be rediscovered later, such as key management, message digests, various forms of chained encryption, VLANs and tunnels, formally verified software and protocols, capability based computer architectures, etc. (The capability stuff has wonderful potential but remains largely forgotten.)
Whuffo diaspora
Yeah. The reason I got access to the DARPANET was classified and even at this late date I'm not going to talk about it.
grin ✅ diaspora
Well it does not work that way (I mean Wikipedia, not Uncle Sam): it does not help if you do know it, and even if you can talk about it.

There usually needs to be a published and publicly available source, preferably reliable too, and the article can be expanded using them.
I have "expanded" it from some other articles, but I am neither familar with the topic nor has emotional drive to start working on it. :-)

What you said, Karl, is the saddest (and most internationally widespread) thing of all of these stories: they have hidden stuff when it seemed better that way (say, cold war), but when it's gone they never had second thoughts and kept it secret. Same funky things were observed from No Such Agency when people started playing with crypto (may Phil Zimmermann's name endure forever ;-)) and from time to time some insider people commented that "yeah, we invented that a decade ago, too". (And many people do know that they have invented things we haven't, yet again.)

So I understand and accept your polite rejection.

I am fortunate that all the secrets I have seen were far from military so I will not be shot, only jailed, in case I talked too much. :-)
Karl Auerbach diaspora
@grin ✅ - I find the Wikipedia's policies about sources to be asinine. For instance, George Washington, who chaired the US Constitutional Convention, would not be allowed to add material to Wikipedia about what happened there because he would be a primary, not secondary source! (I've been trying for years to get the entry for Van Nuys High school updated to reflect that it was the high school from which many of the internet creators - Vint, Jon, Steve C., ... me - came from. But no, people keep editing that out and replacing it by the fact that a bunch of movie and baseball stars went there.

When I was doing secure stuff we were not allowed to talk about it. But we did have US State Dept (which implied DoD) approval to work with RSRE in the UK on that stuff. The RSRE people were not under our constraints, so they could come back with us to the US and publicly talk about what we were working on. Absurd!!!
grin ✅ diaspora
@Karl Auerbach you make the same mistake a lot of people are careless enough to do: you neglect to think about the whole problem, only see one side (or even worse, the little segment involves you).

The big picture contains a huge problem to resolve for Wikipedians: verifiability. In the golden years it was perfectly okay to write just about anything, no sources, no publication, since most of the editors wrote serious, real, honest about subjects they loved and knew.

Time has considerably passed (not very much unlike about Internet, which have changed considerably in the 90s, as you probably extremely well observed, changing from the friendly bunch of enthusiasts [apart from the mankiller guys in uniforms, but they were in the background anyway] to the masses of "I paid for it so I can do whetever I want" people); common Wikipedia topics were already filled and people wanted to have a new article written by them, so they have started to cover more and more obscure topics, and it quickly escalated to an unmaganeable mess. Other problem was that people came to edit out of their emotions, en masse, and it's pretty hard to handle objectively using only polite requests not to.

So, organically Wikipedians realised that an encyclopædia is not the right place for first publications of original research, since editors aren't possessing neither the knowledge nor the material to verify the claims and statements; Wikipedians are not professional publisher's readers or professional editors, they don't have the means to professionally fact-check research. Even more: other (paper) encyclopædias don't do that either. They either use sources or use paid professionals, and even then they have the huge problem of bias of the specific authors, which is often obvious comparing different encyclopedia articles.

So it is uncomfortable, granted. One needs some means to have the material independently verified, then it can be used in Wikipedia. Sometimes, when the statements are unquestionable, or conflict-free they are accepted anyway, but when doubts arise some aggressive editors may go full asshole and start demand sources. (It is not easy to prove that a topic will not have sources, ever.)

I usually advise people writing their memoirs using a different publishing medium, and if it's proofread and edited by professionals they may become external, verified sources in WP's point of view.

But this is all moot in our current case, since you are all gagged, so I just shared the point of view of the "other side of the fence".
Karl Auerbach diaspora
@grin ✅ - I agree that verifiability is a useful thing on the road to credibility, but so is accuracy and, to a lesser degree, comprehensiveness.

I am also a lawyer.

In law we have an even stronger interest in finding truth than does Wikipedia. In law we can take a person's property, or throw him in jail, or even take his life based on the evidence that is admitted into court.

Over the centuries law has developed various means to evaluate credibility of assertions while resolving a dispute.

One of those means is a body known as the rules of evidence.

In the rules of evidence we have a huge (and very complex) rule about the use of hearsay.

In general hearsay is not allowed as evidence (subject to a myriad of exceptions).

The denial of primary sources means that Wikipedia is effectively 100% hearsay.

Hearsay, like any other written/spoken material, can be accurate or it can be utterly wrong.

However, unlike primary sources, out of court (i.e. hearsay) statements can't be directly illuminated by cross examination.

Even a scholarly, peer reviewed, article in a honored journal is hearsay - but at least on those you can drag the authors in court and cross examine them, under oath and penalty of perjury, as primary sources.

Many of the "sources" in Wikipedia are articles by authors who themselves are largely accumulating, digesting, and then emitting material from others. All that a cross examination of those kinds of articles is that the author heard the material from someone else (who is usually not present for cross examination.)

A lawyer who came to a court trial with a bag of evidence collected using Wikipedia's rules could quickly find that very little, if any, of that evidence, would be acceptable.

In law we strongly insist on primary materials. Secondary materials may be acceptable in the absence of primaries, but only under limited (and often very complicated) conditions and often only for limited purposes.

We allow "experts" to testify but only after we have gone through a process to test their credentials and expertise - and even in those cases, those experts are subject to cross examination and rebuttal by other similarly qualified expert witnesses.

I can see no reason why George Washingtonian (were he alive) should be denied the power to add his recollections to a piece in Wikipedia on the Constitutional Convention.

Similarly those of us who were there at the start of the internet ought to be able to directly extend and emend Wikipedia entries about the internet.
Adam Hunt diaspora
On Wikipedia it is 100% vertifiablity, nothing else. If sources conflict we normally state that too.and also this really explains why we do not pursue the truth:
Adam Hunt diaspora
I can see no reason why George Washingtonian (were he alive) should be denied the power to add his recollections to a piece in Wikipedia on the Constitutional Convention.
Yeah we have run into that one, too. The short answer is that because Thomas Jefferson would say to Washington, "yeah I was standing right there when that happened and you are wrong..."
grin ✅ diaspora
@Karl Auerbach I am aware of who you are and indeed you have a lot of respect from me. That was my disclaimer (apart from that no guarantees from me, whatsoever, and if you break it you keep both parts, yada-yada).

Nevertheless, lawyering (which is a wee bit different from "law" itself in my not-so-humble opinion) has not been a nice thing for long, and you do know it as we also do know it. It is also not unbiased, not objective, and definitely consumes egregious amounts of resources, be that money, manpower or various things necessary to bend the result stronger than the other side. Also I am extremely familar with the answers of those lawayers agreed to help us (Wikipedia) in many cases, and almost every time their advice is "we do not know, so you better not do that". It is even more weird that we get the same sentiment here, in Europe, where we have real written law instead of case law, yet almost always the answer is "nobody knows until the judge says the result". (And I must confess that I am uncomfortably familiar with local law, and too much about US law which should not even have any effect on me, yet it has.)

Wikipedia chose a very different way: we try to be as neutral as possible and as objective as possible (yes, I know, impossible to the perfection but doable in best-effort way), also we try to rely on professionals (very similar as courts and judges do I am sure) and let them verify the statements in research materials. Science works pretty differently from law (and I am rather aware that you also do know that so I am a bit puzzled why you talk like you don't): in science your professional peers check your facts, verify your logic and accept or reject the parts or the whole packet of information you have created, then other peers use parts of them and check them again in due course. Wikipedia strives to use these at least twice verified results. It is the opposite of hearsay: it is first verified as research, then verified as a combined work of multiple related research.

If the peer review was mistaken then it is considered the exception, and if it comes to light Wikipedia can act swiftly and change/remove/update/fix the statements, always following the peer-reviewed or proofread sources. The key is always that we try to use independently verified statements. (I could say we "offload" the verification and the blame; the latter is probably very familar from law.)

I am sure there is serious difference between legal trust and scientific trust: while lawpeople need a "truth" which supports their agenda (and if it's false then it's false truth) science needs truths which stay true even if an "opposite" science team uses it. (Or in the case of unresolvable differences between professionals Wikipedia lists all the professional statements and let the reader using judgement of statements and referred sources.)

Those People Who Were There™ shall first publish their memoirs, since they are humans so they are unreliable by nature. :-) Sorry. We are. So they would let the Other People Who Were Also There™ to either agree or disagree, also The People Who Weren't There But Researching That Topic™ can chime in and also fact-check your memories. [And hopefully legal people stay away and do not start mentioning copyright, personality right, national safety, trademarks and patents, gag orders, and all the joyful fun of legal people keep bringing up everywhere.]

In my experience (and it goes back quite a while now) there are extremely well-known professionals who sometimes are wrong, remember wrong or even subscribe to an agenda which was proved wrong since they have invented it or subscribed for it, and it is a very hard and very thankless task to resolve such tension, keeping the respect for the Very Famous Professional while handling that s/he is wrong. (So yes, Jefferson would say "Sure, George, but…!".)

Similar to law, WP's guidelines are a result of countless trial-and-error, and adapted to the problem a lot of times now. Law required that direction and Wikipedia required this direction, and I would say if you accept that law works the way it does then you ought to accept that Wikipedia does the way it is.

I apoligise for my verbosity. It only happens when I start writing.
Adam Hunt diaspora
I should add that we absolutely would use Washington's written memiors as a reference, provided they weren't self-published...
Karl Auerbach diaspora
@Adam Hunt - I was suggesting that if Washington were still alive he could not fire directly edit Wikipedia to add his recollections of the Constitutional Convention because that would be a no-no primary. It gets "interesting" if he were to write an autobiography - that would still be kinda primary-ish, and it would not meet the Wikipedia standard of being independent.

(The example that just popped into my head was in the movie Young Frankenstein when Gene Wilder finds the volume by his grandfather titled "How I Did It" - that volume couldn't go into Wikipedia either, being a non-independent, publicly neither visible nor available, primary source. --- Hmmm, I wonder if I can get a copy via Amazon? ;-)

There's an old joke:
In the board room of Giant Corporation the Chairman asks the board members if they have any suggestions.

The lone women member hesitates but raises her hand.  She articulates a great, innovative idea.

The Chairman then says "Can we get a man to repeat that so we can take it seriously?"

Wikipedia is like that, primary sources can't directly speak into Wikipedia; they have to find a journalist (or journal) to act as their mouthpiece.
Adam Hunt diaspora
Actually that is not true, we do use primary sources and we have a policy on how we use them.

For instance we take Ford's primacy source (their website) as an acceptable ref for factual information, that they make a car called a Mustang, how much it weighs, how fast it is and what engine powers it, etc. What we don't use primary sources for is the company's opinions, "It's a great car, buy one...".

Karl Auerbach diaspora
@grin ✅ - There is much to be said that is wrong with the US legal system. It is slow, it is expensive, it works best for the wealthy. How did we get into that mess? Mostly in order to be fair and impartial. The most expensive part of many civil cases is what is called "discovery" - it is the stage in which the dueling sides can dig into information held by the other side (and third parties.) The goal was to have deep transparency. It does that, at least for people who have the time and money - which means that in large part "justice is for just us".

Legal procedure can can also be mind numbing - because of the ping-pong of motions and counter motions. Figuring out the context of any stage of procedure can be difficult even for lawyers. That's one of the reasons the media so often gets news about legal cases so embarrassingly wrong and why they tend to inflate procedures about some small point into something earthshaking.

(BTW, lawyers are trained to avoid giving clear answers - we are trained to give both sides and let the client pick. This is one way to reduce the risk of liability. That tends to turn lawyers into Iagos who can subtly manipulate the acts of their Othellos rather than acting themselves. And I doubt that any of us would consider Iago anything other than evil - the same way that many lawyers are seen.)

Legal procedures tend to make the art of questioning a proposition into something active, usually driving by money and calendars. Scientific review is more passive - and perhaps one of the strong driving forces is that of the pursuit of professional status. That makes academic review (usually) more relaxed, passive-voiced, and slow.

And we can't forget that in recent years a lot of academic articles have had to be withdrawn - for example the paper in Lancet about a relationship of vaccinations to autism - that was published and is used by many anti-vaxers but which had to be pulled because of significant flaws in the way it was generated and presented.

And as for more normal media - the Wikipedia rules allow for things like Fox News to be proposed as a source. Journalistic standards are not high these days; especially at certain outlets. How do we know which media to trust? The answer these days seems to come more from which tribal group one asks rather than some objective standards.

I've worked with various boards and panels of review. They help. But there can be the implicit bias created by the selection of that panel. For instance, in the area of internet history there is now a body of people who deny that one of the strong drivers of the early net was to have military communications that could survive nuclear holocaust. Many of us from that era don't like the notion that we were helping those who considered nuclear war a legitimate means of conflict, so it is human nature for use to use time to paint over that era. Many of those people have gravitated to various institutions. (Others of us who are more willing to face the past have not so gravitated.) So if one looks at a "history of the internet" piece from the former the story of war is diminished. My own intro to the period (link below) begins quite differently.

My point is that review by selected reviewers is nice, but I would assert that hard-ball advocacy pro and con is more likely to reveal nuggets of truth, but at a cost of time and money (and often damaging once friendly relationships.)

And that kind of pound-on-the-iron until its inner form is revealed works better if we begin with that iron - the primary - rather than a second-hand description of that iron.

I wish our era had better education in the art of expression and argument - I am one who supports the return of courses in rhetoric - but unfortunately most of us are not skilled in the art of clear and felicitous expression.

That lack of clear articulation makes any job of distilling an issue into a concise statement fraught with risk. But when we allow primary sources to speak - and confront one another - the risk is reduced as compared to secondary, even vetted secondary, sources. At least with primary materials the later reader can have a better foundation upon which to decide.

BTW, here's my take on how the internet began...

Karl Auerbach diaspora
@Adam Hunt - That ability to use "facts" directly is nice, but it does have risks. I don't know if you have ever participated in a regulatory proceeding to define things. For instance, there have been great battles fought over those nutrition labels found on US food products.

For instance, the size of that Mustang's trunk space could be measured by filling it with liquid water until it overflows. But that isn't the same thing as the space available for rectangular solids, such as boxes or suitcases. So rules had to be developed how to measure such spaces. (I pick this example because we have a knock-about Honda that has vast interior spaces - but largely not usable because there are two large shock absorber/suspension towers that intrude and that seem to get in the way of almost anything we try to stick in there.)

In one of my early chemistry classes at UCLA on group was taksed with making "pure water". Everybody failed at it because the prof, silently, meant "absolutely pure to the umpteenth decimal place". It was a useful lesson in how one should treat "facts".
Adam Hunt diaspora
We actually have pretty complete guidance on which journalistic sources can be trusted and for which subjects and which cannot:


For instance on your example of Fox News:
Fox News (news excluding politics and science): Generally reliable There is consensus that Fox News is generally reliable for news coverage on topics other than politics and science.

Fox News (politics and science) No consensus There is no consensus on the reliability of Fox News's coverage of politics and science. Use Fox News with caution to verify contentious claims. Editors perceive Fox News to be biased or opinionated for politics; use in-text attribution for opinions.

Fox News (talk shows) Generally unreliable Fox News talk shows, including Hannity, Tucker Carlson Tonight, The Ingraham Angle, and Fox & Friends, should not be used for statements of fact but can sometimes be used for attributed opinions. See also: Fox News (news excluding politics and science), Fox News (politics and science).
or, as another example:
RT (Russia Today) Deprecated There is consensus that RT is an unreliable source, publishes false or fabricated information, and should be deprecated along the lines of the Daily Mail. Many editors describe RT as a mouthpiece of the Russian government that engages in propaganda and disinformation.
Adam Hunt diaspora
Sure, information presented as facts may be more or less reliable or self-serving. In the case of the Mustang trunk space we normally accept manufacturer's data (primary source), unless another source (like a reviewer) has measured it and finds a disagreement, then that would be noted.

Washington's own accounts of his battles would be noted as his accounts and differentiating accounts would similarly be noted.
This video must become mandatory in school to watch, so people understand what #Internet was when it started and where it is all based on. #History
Adam Hunt diaspora
Yeah I use uBlock Origin as well, pretty much takes all the ads out.
And NoScript is also mandatory to kill most of the trackers.
grin ✅ diaspora
@Fritz-Ferdinand von Pinguin I use the uMatrix + uBlock Origin combo, NoScript was often problematic (years ago).
grin ✅ diaspora
@Karl Auerbach Thank you for that detailed legal summary. I am well aware of the reasons why lawyers act like they do, and I had no word against it; I have just pulled the topic in to be a counterpoint of your comparison of Wikipedia and the Courts, and how they are almost, but not quite entirely different.

Still I would like to underline my point, which is to offload the fact checking and professional (and scientific) verification. The courts can do it their way, basically use unlimited time, money and resources to assure and reassure and match and measure and resolve various "truths" (or "facts", in quotes as well) to reach an accepted result, which - despite the lengthy and convoluted process - may be subjective and wrong.

Wikipedia cannot and will not use this path. The scientific approach follow the notion that the quality of the material does not degrade by peer review but improve, so in Wikipedia's view Washington's own memoires written by him and handed over by himself are much worse than the same memoires read and corrected by six other founding fathers (secondary source), and even better is the historical volume written by respected historians of the era and pee reviewed by other historians of the era (tertiary source), since compared to the original the third volume has wider context, possibly restrospectively putting locally observed events into the greater perspective.

Mistakes aside, since everyone make mistakes. Courts, scientiests, Wikipedians, even his holiness the Satan himself. ;-)

Wikipedia guidelines - as @Adam Hunt amply explained - are way more detailed than "use tertiary sources, do not use primary sources", and there are suggestions (and lengthy essays as well) about various uses of special case sources, or suggesting lower or higher trust value to various methods of peer review, publication or topic coverage.

So, if you would write your memoires and it would get a review (of subjectively acceptable level of trust) and it would get published (in a way that makes you liable for any false or misleading statements) then Wikipedians may take this review and pubsher's self-restraint as a process suitable to do basic fast-check on your statements, and may accept it as a source.

There is no way around it: the sources have to be checked by someone we trust (to some level) to be accepted since we do not have the means to perform these checks. Primary sources, especially original research do not possess this absolutely required attribute.

I was pondering about responding to the part about language and rhetoric, but I believe it was not intended to offend anyone so... I agree, it would be good to have it, but I am afraid there are much more painful holes in the education than that. As for me, English is not my mother tongue so I possibly make a lot of grammatical and very probably a lot of rhetorical mistakes. I hope it does not annoy anyone to death.
grin ✅ diaspora
@Roland Häder There was a book published (now a decade ago) titled "The Origins of the Hungarian Internet" (or like that, in Hungarian), written by some people.

And some other people got really annoyed. These other people were, accidentally, those who were actually there in the beginning, those who actually smuggled and built the original stuff here, while the book authors came much later and have done, how to put it nicely, much less. They were the result of the 90s commercialisation of the Internet, businessmen, basically, while the "other people" were academics and engineers.

They became so annoyed that another book was born, titled something similar, except it was written by the people who were really there and the listed facts were often pretty dissimilar from the other: the events were the same but the narration was as different as possible.

So, it is not easy to see the one history, and as Karl described: people love to re-paint the past with the colors of the present. I have presented Internet history a few times and it DARPA never ceased to be a cold-war result of the military, and the main work were not done the mighty famous companies but various uiversities and academics. And I don't see why thruth would not be acceptable. History do not have to be pretty, it shall be true. (Often way better without explanations....)

I am younger - I am a pioneer of BBS systems and FidoNet here around, and started online communities before it was chic, and I can talk about the dark sides, too. Of course my memories are shiny happy now, but there were a lot of dark, illegal, sad or really unwanted stuff happening which was needed to get there were we are today.